Keep in mind, of course, that most legislators will listen to you. But unless you’ve got mad skills of rhetoric, let’s face it, there are some legislators you’re never going to sway from their ideology or constituent base.
On the flipside, there are the legislators who eat up almost everything you say, and even high-five you after hearing your pitch. Unfortunately, these legislators probably agreed with your position before you ever showed up, so you really haven’t advanced your cause. Therefore, consider this short list as worth approaching to sway votes on certain key underdog issues at the Legislature.
Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George
• When Urquhart was chairman of the Senate Rules Committee in 2007 and 2008, he allowed Democrats to pick the same number of bills for committee assignment as the Republicans.
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem
• Senate sponsor for legislation that reformed Utah’s liquor laws and got rid of private-club memberships.
• An ethics reformer before ethics were cool. Although she didn’t sign it, Allen was one of the representatives at the center of an ethics complaint against Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper—which served as a catalyst for the current (attempted) ethics reforms.
Rep. Steve Mascaro, R-West Jordan
• For years, Mascaro worked with Democrat Pat Jones (when she was in the House) to reform taxes to boost funding for education.
• Wallis was the only Republican to vote in favor of 2009’s House Bill 267, sponsored by Rep. Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake City, which would have extended housing and workplace protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Utahns. Also, he is a champion for higher education funding.
Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan
9241 S. Lisa Avenue, West Jordan
• Buttars may not be a big fan of “the gays” but he is an ardent supporter of sensible treatment for drug offenders. He was a sponsor of the embattled Drug Offender Reform Act of 2006 that created community treatment options that would be an alternative to prison for drug offenders.
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan
595 S. Riverwoods Parkway, Logan
• Hillyard might not be too crazy about the current citizen’s ethics initiative, but in 2008 he was receptive to at least to increasing severance taxes on oil and natural gas to help bolster the state’s trust fund, instead of taking a purely ideological stance on the position.
Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns
5438 W. Stonyridge Circle, Kearns
• Hutchings has proven his ability to cross party lines, since he was actually elected as a Democrat in a special election and then switched parties. In 2009, he proposed a bill that would have required legislators obtain their own health insurance from the private market instead of enjoying the state government insurance.
Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy
3182 E. Granite Woods Lane, Sandy
• Niederhauser is expected to sponsor a 2010 bill to offer low-interest loans for promoting home energy conservancy. A fiscally smart bill that would help promote energy efficiency—which is about as a green as a Utah republican will likely get.
• Niederhauser also sponsored the 2009 bill creating the transparency website for tracking state government spending (transparent.utah.gov).
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden
1233 E. 2250 North, North Ogden
• Christensen was the only Republican to vote against the controversial immigration omnibus bill, SB81, in 2008. Christensen argued the approach was overbroad, choosing instead to support more surgical immigrant-crime measures, such as legislation out of the 2009 session that created a taskforce for targeting violent and major crimes from undocumented immigrants.