Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: The hits, home runs and errors of the legislative session

Published: Sunday, March 17 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

The Moneyball Managers: Budget co-chairs Sen. Lyle Hillyard and Rep. Mel Brown ran the numbers, calculated the odds and balanced the state budget despite federal funding uncertainty.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser played the role of League Commissioner with his cool calm demeanor.

"The Sandlot": The House, with unprecedented numbers of freshman representatives, fostered comments from observers "Wow he's young!" and "What's his name again?"

Strike-out: Utah is the second most arid state in the country, so the mechanics of water are important to agriculture, industry and government. Daily high-pitched and emotional debates among farmers, lawyers, governments and others dominated discussions in committees, in the hallways and on occasion — in bathrooms. The ultimate result was always in question until the last day when the legislation failed in conference committee.

Last inning relief pitcher: The state's largest water rights holder, The LDS Church, weighed in at the very last minute on the issue, causing temporary consternation. (Apparently they were distracted by another liquid issue-alcohol)

Double-play: Rep. Greg Hughes grabbed the attention of the media and political underworld with two bills that blew open anonymous campaign activities.

Phantom ballplayers: The ghosts of the attorney general and federal investigators were invisible but felt.

Trapped runner: The Medicaid Office of Inspector General succeeded in recapturing overpayments through his audit activities. But this year the OIG was unwittingly caught in a political struggle between legislators and the governor's office, with added prodding from providers upset at audit results. He made it to second base … barely.

Coach of the year: Utah Medical Association CEO Michele McOmber deftly maneuvered the election of four physicians who possess a great bedside manner: Reps. Michael Kennedy, Edward Redd, Stuart Barlow and Shiozawa. This crew caught many fly balls defending their profession.

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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