Most lawmakers not only passed resolutions honoring former Govs. Scott M. Matheson and Herbert B. Maw, both of whom died in the past year, they also gave the men standing ovations for their years of service to the state.

"It was an appropriate thing for this body to do," said House Majority Whip Byron Harward, R-Provo.But what about the well over 100 other resolutions introduced in the 1991 Legislature?

"It would be safe to say many are a waste of money, and more importantly they are a waste of our time up here. And we've got less time than we do money," Harward said.

Nevertheless, lawmakers will take the time to address such weighty resolutions as recognizing St. George as a nice place to retire, designating April 17 as "we need a neat environment day," starting a state Christmas song competition and thanking those who remodeled the House offices and meeting rooms.

One resolution even encourages a reduction in frivolous lawsuits, but it says nothing about frivolous resolutions.

Senators and representatives are finding themselves buried beneath an avalanche of resolutions - despite the fact leaders in both bodies have publicly admonished their members to exercise restraint.

Privately, many are furious that resolutions - which cost an average of $769 each to draft and print - have become a frivolous political tool that is needlessly costing taxpayers thousands of dollars each year.

So far this session there have been 92 resolutions filed, with requests that staff draft another 16. And even more resolutions are expected before lawmakers adjourn Feb. 27.

"Leadership is quite concerned that it has gotten out of control," Harward said. "We have a very limited amount of time to address real legislation up here, and needless resolutions detract from that."

For example, one resolution, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Jorgensen, D-Midvale, honors the Boy Scouts of America on its 81st anniversary.

"What is so significant about 81?" Harward said. "There are many, many, many organizations worthy of commendation, but we don't pass resolutions every year honoring them."

Another resolution, also sponsored by Jorgensen, commends Israel for exercising restraint in the face of Iraqi missile attacks. "Do you really think Israel cares what the Utah Legislature has to say about that?" Harward said.

Many lawmakers have criticized the litany of resolutions encouraging Congress to take one particular action or another. Not only are such resolutions a waste of lawmaker time, but Congress never listens anyway.

"In most cases it probably is a waste of time," said Rep. Kim Burningham, R-Bountiful.

But that hasn't stopped lawmakers. Rep. R. Mont Evans, R-Riverton, has sponsored several resolutions honoring current or retired public employees, including one who was recognized "for her caring, enthusiastic and cheerful approach to life." Evans also has one honoring Bingham High School for winning back-to-back state basketball championships.

"There are literally thousands of good people who deserve attention," Harward said. "But it is not appropriate to use the legislative process in the way it is being used."

Leadership is looking at different options to the growing tide of resolutions, including citations that can be signed by the speaker of the House and the Senate president without taking up floor time.

"There are things this body and the Senate want to express joint feelings on, things we all feel very strongly about," Harward said. "Unfortunately, a lot more resolutions mean something to one particular legislator, and they pass because no one wants to dishonor the people. But that doesn't make it right."

Harward adds that the proper role of resolutions is to ratify interstate compacts, enact rules by which the Legislature operates and to honor extraordinary individuals and organizations on behalf of all citizens of the state.


(Additional information)

Resolutions under consideration

-Recognize St. George as a nice place to retire.

-Designate a "we need a neat environment day."

-Start a Christman song competition.

-Honor Bingham High School basketball team.