Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: The hits, home runs and errors of the legislative session
Ravell Call, Deseret News
From Major League spring training to Little League tryouts, baseball is in the air — signaling long anticipated warm weather. From their respective bleachers, Utahns also cheered and cried through a season of another spectator sport — the legislative session. Here are the hits, home runs and errors of our "insider baseball" analysis (shameless analogy):
MVP: Speaker Becky Lockhart secured respect with the caucus and garnered appeal from the general public by openly demanding transparency and accountability in big-ticket items.
Unforced errors: Despite expectations, the federal sequestration did not impact budget final numbers, and the "Zion Curtain" did not come down as predicted.
If you build it they will come — and if you don't, they will come anyway: After a hard-fought battle between business associations/Salt Lake County and taxpayer associations/competitors, legislators declined to give government subsidies for a convention center hotel.
Foul ball: Although introduced to much fanfare, the anti-discrimination amendments were not voted on in the Senate (this could be considered a pop fly since it did pass committee).
Free agent: Beloved former representative and recently retired state budget officer Ron Bigelow was spotted numerous times roaming the hallways offering experienced insight. His opinions rankled some appointed officials but were appreciated by legislators — especially because he was not-self serving.
Rookie of the year (National League): Sen. Bryan Shiozawa's dispensation of medical expertise changed the direction of many political debates.
Rookies of the year (American League): Rep. Rich Cunningham is a mini-tornado of energy and enthusiasm who was just fun to watch, while Mike McKell utilized his legal training without being obnoxious.
The "Natural" older but wiser rookie: Although an appointed freshman, Lowry Snow impressed all with his natural sagacity. Plus he just looks the part.
Best utility player: Sen. Curt Bramble provided his team reliable and energetic leadership on a host of issues.
Stolen base: Fear of federal action against gun owners opened an emotional opportunity for lawmakers to steal home and repeal permit requirements for concealed weapons.
Best umpire: As Senate Rules chairman, John Valentine provided the usual competent control of legislation (when he wasn't influencing the liquor debate).
Best imitation of Babe Ruth: Rep. Francis Gibson enjoys the physical presence and gregariousness of the "Bambino," providing him a role — when he wants — in debates on key issues.
A "League of Their Own": Veterans Minority Leader Jen Seelig, Sen. Margaret Dayton, Sen. Luz Robles, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, along with "fresh-women" Sen. Deidre Henderson, Rep. Dana Layton and Rep. Angelo Romero served reminder that either gender can deliver excellence in politics.
Republican batting average: Wayne Harper went to bat multiple innings by sponsoring numerous bills. He lost a few, but also got many hits.
Democrat batting average: The odds are against the minority party, but these three women excelled in "getting the taters": Sen. Pat Jones, Sen. Karen Mayne, Rep. Patrice Arent.
Best imitation of Texan player Nolan Ryan: Similar to Ryan, St. George Sen. Steve Urquhart is famous for a charming Texan drawl and fast insightful hard balls in debates.
Best slide: The Prison Relocation and Development Authority (PRADA-interesting acronym for a correctional facility) will initiate the process to move the Draper prison. At the bottom of the ninth inning on the last day, PRADA was stuck on third base. But after a contentious conference committee, it slid into home and was called safe.