Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Foggy weather and inversion herald legislative session

Published: Sunday, Jan. 26 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

Air quality suffers as an inversion covers the Salt Lake valley Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Pignanelli & Webb: Much mythology surrounds Utah’s Legislature and also Utah’s smoggy weather inversions. But one scientific fact is that murky air is nature's way of warning us of the imminent arrival of a legislative session. If the air is especially bad, it portends an especially contentious session.

So get out your gas masks, because lawmakers swing into action bright and early tomorrow. Although we can’t provide relief from gunky air, we can, as a public service, offer our annual interpretation of what they say at the Capitol — and what they really mean.

All politicians: "I will focus my energies to develop sound initiatives that attack the air pollution plaguing Utahns." (“The only real way to get clean air would require dramatic lifestyle changes and government forcing massive driving reductions. But I ain’t delivering that message.”)

Republican legislators: "For decades the gas tax funded road construction, but with the advent of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, further study is needed to find a new way to pay for highways." (“I love blaming green energy as a reason not to raise taxes in an election year.”)

Gov. Gary Herbert: "I'm excited to re-engage with the Legislature." ("I’d really like to ignore them, but they’re invading for 45 days.")

GOP legislative leadership: "We appreciate the input of Gov. Herbert and his staff in the legislative process." ("We’ve been running the show for years and it ain't changing now.")

Democrat Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis: "The minority party will offer creative and reasonable alternative solutions to Republican policies." (“Please don’t ignore us; we actually have something to say.")

The news media: “We will provide in-depth coverage of important public policy issues that affect the citizenry.” (“We will be all over the sensational and titillating stuff, even if it has no chance of passing, and then we’ll write editorials blasting the Legislature for wasting time on message bills.”)

Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser: "The Senate has tremendous ideas with experienced and steady leaders." ("The governor and the House need to grow up and follow our leadership.")

House Speaker Becky Lockhart: "In my final session I will look out for the interests of all Utahns.” ("As speaker, I dispatched a corrupt attorney general, restored budget prosperity, opened the legislative process, enhanced the reputation of the Legislature, and promoted innovations in education. Anything else I need to buff my reputation as gubernatorial candidate?")

House Majority Leader Bradley Dee: "I will not allow the opposition to push us around." ("By opposition, I mean the real enemy, the Senate, not the Democrats.")

Capitol Hill reporters: "We intend to scrutinize every meal, gift or perk that legislators receive." ("We expect those ultra-convenient reserved parking places will be ready for us.")

Conservative firebrand legislators: "I demand that every legislative proposal be strictly reviewed for constitutional purity and fiscal functionality." ("All my bills are stuck in committee and I have to sound like I'm accomplishing something.")

Liberal firebrand legislators: "I am the tireless voice for the underclass and those without representation." ("All my bills are stuck in committee and I have to sound like I'm accomplishing something.")

Lawmakers responding to citizen lobbyists: "Thank you for the information, I will give careful consideration to your concerns." ("I hate these interruptions on my way to the bathroom.”)

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