POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah’s citizen legislature is an advantage, not a burden

Sep 26, 2023, 9:30 PM | Updated: Sep 27, 2023, 12:33 pm

Utahns responded to a survey that will help state and local decision-making guide Utah's developmen...

The Utah State Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. This year, there are eight seats open on the Utah State Board of Education, and 20 candidates are hoping to fill them. (AP photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — At 45 days in length, the Utah legislative session is the shortest in the nation. And for this reason, some people say the state has a citizen legislature instead of career politicians.

Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan told KSL NewsRadio that a citizen legislature is a positive. 

 

“(What) I love about serving in the legislature is that …  it’s full-time for about two months out of the year,” he said. “Then it becomes kind of like a part-time gig for the rest of the year.

“Because it’s only part-time for the vast majority of the year, we in the legislature can’t help but interact with our constituents and neighbors every day.”

Citizen legislature and spending time with residents

Fillmore says he appreciates the quality of time spent with the people he serves.

“I really value the time that I spend with my neighbors,” he said. “At church, at the park, and at little league games. And when we run into each other at Costco or where we might be, I think that’s a real strength. And it helps Utah’s legislature be connected to the people we represent in ways that other states just don’t have.”

Fillmore acknowledges that maintaining a full-time job, while serving in the state legislature can be challenging. He says it’s especially difficult when you go in for a job interview and tell them that you need two months off every year in January, February, and March. 

“So, the legislature does because of that reality,” he said. “We tend to get people with a lot of job flexibility.”

He says that difficulty is actually a strong point.

“That difficulty is a strength,” he said. “The fact that we have regular turnover in our legislature is part of what truly makes it a citizen legislature.”

And there’s another aspect to the Utah Legislature that assures continued contact with constituents. Fillmore said the state turns over roughly 25% of the legislature every two years. 

“And that means we’re always getting a fresh perspective,” he said. “Fresh ideas from people who are fresh out of the trenches of their neighborhood.”

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

 

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Utah’s citizen legislature is an advantage, not a burden