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Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: What will Utah's 2013 legislative session look like?

Published: Sunday, Aug. 5 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Pignanelli: I served in the Legislature during the collapse of the Soviet Union. As with millions of Americans, I fully expected the demise of our nemesis to usher in a new era of thoughtful deliberations regarding the role of government and increasing prosperity for everyone. But without missing a beat, right-wing extremists began screeching about black helicopters, the New World order and the "socialist school lunch program." I have a great faith in the creative and conspiratorial juices of ultra right-wingers to concoct new demons (regardless of the election results) which will inspire fresh and exciting varieties of message legislation.

Is the tea party/far right going to fade away or is a big comeback being planned for 2014 when caucus turnout will likely be lower?

Pignanelli: Local activists in both parties know that turnout will be lower in 2014 precinct caucus meetings. They smell opportunity and are already developing loyalty oaths and litmus test questions for candidates.

Webb: My good friends on the far right will be vocal and will assume they have more clout than their election results warrant. Remember (where have you heard this before?): The mainstream won, so let's act like it. Certainly, the far right is planning and organizing for the 2014 election. That's why we need structural reform that facilitates broad, mainstream engagement in the political process. In 2014, we won't have Sen. Orrin Hatch spending $5 million on caucus turnout. We may not have the LDS Church make such a big push. If we leave Utah politics to the activists on the extremes, we will deserve what we get. Despite the big mainstream wins in 2012, we still need structural 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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