House speaker criticizes governor in opening address to Utah Legislature
Lockhart's speech also included calls for technological innovations in education and action on air quality that focuses on voluntary measures to curb driving, as well as a rejection of an increase in the state's 24.5-cent gas tax, unchanged since 1997.
“A gas tax increase is neither fresh, nor new, nor right,” Lockhart said, proposing instead that lawmakers look for other ways to fund the state's transportation infrastructure.
Herbert has expressed frustration that lawmakers appear to be putting off that discussion until after this November's election.
Niederhauser said lawmakers need to address transportation funding, but said the chance for a tax increase of any kind is "very low."
In his opening speech, Niederhauser told his colleagues that returning to fundamental principles is essential to securing individual rights and free government.
"There are voices which are often convincing that weaken the pillars of the past in favor of the new world that we face. Old-fashioned are the adherents of a time gone by," he said.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave the opening prayer in the Senate. The Calvary Baptist Church choir sang "Amazing Grace" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
In a 10-minute video posted to the LDS Church's website last week, Elder Christofferson said the state's liquor laws are effective and don't need to be changed.
Lockhart, however, has called the required barrier to drink preparation in restaurants "weird" and said again Monday the so-called "Zion Curtain" needs to go.
Asked about going against the church's position, the speaker said, "I’m comfortable having my own position on all kinds of issues."
Lockhart also said she might not vote again for Amendment 3, the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman that was struck down by a federal judge. The case is now being appealed.
"I'd have to really think about both parts of it," Lockhart said, referring specifically to the portion of the amendment that bars legal recognition of any other domestic union.
In the midst of the first-day pomp and politics, there also was a surprise. Sen. Luz Robles' fiancé, Juan Carlos Escamilla, who serves in the Arizona Legislature, proposed to the Salt Lake City Democrat on bended knee in the Senate chamber. Robles said yes.
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