Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: In a quiet year, here are some courageous lawmakers

Published: Sunday, March 4 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

— After winning a legislative seat in a special election, Sen. Aaron Osmond dived deeply into public education reform, bringing long-warring parties together to find common ground. He and Sen. Howard Stephenson are using this momentum with the State Office of Education and the Department of Workforce Services to utilize technology in outreach to students and parents.

— Sen. Stephen Urquhart is quietly but effectively driving higher education change with a mission-based focus. The process started last year, but his efforts in 2012 are moving needed reform forward.

— Sens. Ben McAdams and Ross Romero are engaged in a tough battle for the Democratic Salt Lake County mayor nomination. But each lawmaker is sponsoring legislation that would make a real difference to gay and lesbian Utahns. McAdams has a statewide nondiscrimination bill (similar to what a number of local governments have passed), while Romero is sponsoring a bill to provide rights of co-parents.

— Rep. Jim Dunnigan is recognized as the ultimate authority on health insurance at the Capitol. He is utilizing this credibility and support of his colleagues to develop a strong state market-based alternative to federal health care reform.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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