What exactly was the purpose of the special legislative session held this week?
Generally speaking, when a governor calls for a special session, it is because either an emergency requires immediate action, or a newly passed law needs to be tweaked before it causes unintended harm. And if it's the latter, the session isn't called until the governor and legislative leaders have worked out a solution for any item put on the agenda so that bills can be passed quickly, with little pain.
Granted, no one can guarantee that even a well-planned solution won't go awry once lawmakers meet and begin debating, but Wednesday's session lacked focus from the start and ended up accomplishing virtually nothing. Even the animal-cruelty bill, known as Henry's law, was bogged down by arguments that showed no one had worked out anything near a consensus ahead of time. Why was that bill placed on the agenda?
The debate over whether to split the Granite and Jordan school districts along east-west boundaries to form new districts did in fact warrant a special session. As the law is written, only the people wishing to form new districts on the east side would get to vote, and yet the folks left over on the fast-growing west end of the valley suddenly would find themselves having to pay the total cost for all new school construction.
A main purpose of the session, ostensibly, was to solve these problems problems so serious they caused the Salt Lake County Council to refuse to allow a public vote. But again, the special session convened with no concensus in sight. Lawmakers ended up sending the matter to a task force for further study, which seemed prudent in light of all the disagreements. They did, however, pass a bill that takes away the county's power to stop a vote in the Jordan District.
As a result, voters in at least the east side of the Jordan District are likely to go to the polls this November to decide whether to break away. People on the west side are likely to file a lawsuit that demands they get a right to vote, as well.
And the folks who once urged everyone not to worry because lawmakers eventually would make sure west-siders are taken care of look naive, at best.
In other words, the district-split issue is as much of a mess now as it was before Wednesday.
So, the state went through the expense and trouble of a special session because ...?