We are midpoint in the legislative session. From here on, it's all uphill, not downhill. The days will be longer and the pace faster.
This week, guns dominated much of the debate, especially in the judiciary committee, which I chair. Interestingly, the issue is not whether we support the right to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment, that is a given. Every member of the committee is fully committed to his/her oath to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The challenge stems from the fact that there are other constitutional principles that come into play and most notably the "Supremacy Clause" which in relevant part provides that if a conflict arises between federal law that complies with the U.S. Constitution and state law that conforms to the state constitution, state judges are bound to apply the federal law.
The bottom line is that we can't do whatever we please; our state law must conform to the U.S. Constitution.
That said, there will be several so-called "gun bills" that will be adopted and signed into law. There may also be some that fail because they would invite extensive and costly litigation with little chance of survival.
On an entirely different front, early in the week there was proposed a measure to shift all the counties from a calendar year to a fiscal year. It arose out of a perceived election problem in Salt Lake County last fall. The response from counties statewide was swift and sure.
Their collective view is that the system works just fine as is and should be left alone. The proposed bill died in committee so the counties will remain on the same schedule.
We are also considering whether we should pour more money into the state prison at the point of the mountain or go a different direction.
One approach suggests a smaller central facility in the metropolitan area for the most serious offenders with increased reliance upon outreach facilities in rural Utah. Whatever we do, it will be a huge undertaking. I will keep you posted on this.