Utah’s 2014 legislative sessions ends on an up note

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By Miranda Collette, Collin Smith and Jenna Neeley

SALT LAKE CITY — Capitol Hill was blustering with activity by lawmakers, lobbyists, and a bunch of little kids as this year’s 45-day session came to a timely close at exactly midnight Thursday.

For some it means nothing, besides a short walk down the hall to an office where more laws must be prepared for the coming year, while for others it could justify a well-deserved vacation.

Leaving the Capitol Building behind from the year, the view from State Street Photo by: Mallory Jesperson
Leaving the Capitol Building behind, the view from State Street
Photo by Mallory Jesperson

Mike Mitchell, who has acted as the House of Representative head sergeant of arms for the past 18 years, plans to hit the open road with his wife to go camping. One of the things he will miss most about the session is mingling with the representatives.

“I don’t care what party their with, they are all good people,” Mitchell said, “Just because you have a “D” or an “R,” some people don’t like either party but I’ve found they are nice people.”

When the Legislature is not in session Mitchell works for Murray’s Parks and Recreation Department and coaches his granddaughters 14and-under girls softball team.

Located on the opposite side of the rotunda, the Head Sargent for the Senate, Tom Shepherd, has been on the hill for 19 years now.  He said his favorite part of the last month and a half has been following the excitement surrounding Sen. Steve Urquhart’s SB100, which addressed housing and employment opportunities regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The bill stalled a week ago.

Senator Robles sees her daughter. Photo By: Collin Smith
Senator Robles sees her daughter.
Photo by Collin Smith

“I’m glad to see it over by the end of 45 days,” he said. “It’s almost like a circus in here, this last day is just so unorganized.”

A lot of times, the chaotic, unorganized atmosphere of the last day goes unnoticed. Utah’s very own boy-band, Beyond 5, had never been to the Capitol before but made its debut appearance in the Senate Chambers Thursday morning to sing the National Anthem.

The Legislative staff was also recognized on the final day for all of its hard work.

As midnight approached on Capitol Hill, Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser, R-Sandy, raced the clock to literally speed read and pass as many final bills of the 2014 Legislative Session as possible.

An eighth gradernamed  Joselyn described the last frantic minutes in the House as, “I feel like they are going so fast, like ah what did they just do?! So hopefully those last bills aren’t anything too crazy.”

Neiderhausser was tongue tied with final riddles and remarks as the sound of gavel-knocking rang through Capitol doors. But surprisingly, that wasn’t the only thing to be heard, as music from Taylor Swift, Macklemore and even Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out,” began the “party” on the House floor.

And finally, amidst the tears and laughs, lawmakers finally sat back and enjoyed the company of their fellow legislators, and even amongst party differences, new friends.

Hi-Five, the fourty-five day legislative session ended at midnight on March 13. Photo Credit: Aaron Butler
A high five as the 45-day legislative session ended at midnight on March 13.
Photo by Aaron Butler

Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, had fun with a JimmyFallon-inspired thank you note roast, lightly mocking both the representatives and the issues from the session, closing with “#sorrynotsorry.”

The House rang true with not only legislation, but also in a rousing rendition of, “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to hold office,” where all legislators belted the words, “let them be doctors or lawyers or such!”

Gifts of appreciation in the form of Wonder Woman dolls with Speaker Lockhart’s face on them were given to leadership, and a 3.6 lb. bag of Skittles being passed around gave the floor a “sweet” and oddly sentimental feel.

“You’re a lot of fun people, this is like camping with the Boy Scouts,” Sen. Pat Jones, D- Salt Lake City, said.

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