Deseret News
Utah House of Representatives Lynn Hemmingway (R) and Mark Wheatley talk at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City.

Pignanelli & Webb: Tomorrow begins the 2012 General Session of the Utah Legislature. This is an especially busy time for religious leaders of all faiths, because so many Utahns request divine intervention for a speedy conclusion of this annual ritual — before widespread destruction occurs.

Because even the most intelligent citizens are easily confused by the organized chaos we call the "legislative process," we hereby continue our annual tradition of interpreting political speak — what politicians at the Legislature are saying, and what they really mean.

Gov. Gary Herbert: "The Legislature and I are united in our approach this year, and working closely together." (If I have to take heat in the convention from the right wing, those lawmakers are taking it with me.)

Lt. Gov. Greg Bell: "Our office is making effective use of the tools of technology to foster openness and ethics in government." (I love to force high-priced lobbyists — especially Pignanelli — to take our on-line ethics test every year. It's fun to hear them whine.)

Highly loquacious legislators: "Perhaps I love my country and state too much ... but I challenge all of us to stand on our principles." (I lost my train of thought and I'm desperately trying to recall where I was going with my grand analogy.)

All partisan elected officials: "Party caucuses are democracy at its best and I emphatically support the delegates and convention system — what a bulwark of freedom!" (Those people are crazy! How can we dump them?)

Senate President Michael Waddoups: "I will leave this session with fond memories as I retire from public life." (Free at last, free at last!)

House Speaker Becky Lockhart: "I hold the legislative process in high regard and will defend it with vigor again this year." (No matter how stupid your bill, it gets a hearing.)

Governor's campaign manager: "We welcome a spirited election season." (We hope more right-wingers file; it dilutes the opposition.)

Senate Republicans: "We appreciate the contributions and enthusiasm of our friends across the aisle." (We don't have to fight the Senate Democrats because they're busy backstabbing each other.)

Veteran lobbyist: "Nothing happens around here without Sen. Curt Bramble's input." (If you don't suck up to Bramble you get Brambo'ed.)

Nervous lobbyist: "I just had an uncomfortable conversation with Sen. Steve Urquhart." (I tried to pull a fast one on Urquhart. I think I was hit by a freight train.)

Male lawmaker: "I respect the passion Rep. Jen Seelig brings to her causes." (She terrifies me.)

Republican lawmakers: "We know the education community is pleased with our efforts to fund growth this year." (Teachers, be grateful for what you're getting, and don't push your luck.)

Democrat lawmaker: "We have shortchanged public education for too long — our children deserve better." (I need the UEA to fund another election mailer for me.)

Advocates for low-income and disabled citizens: "We look forward to working with Sen. Wayne Niederhauser on Medicaid reform." (Dang! We get rid of Dan Liljenquist and along comes another numbers guy pushing real reform.)

House Majority Leader Brad Dee: "I look forward to orienting all these new freshmen." (Here are the keys to the men's room. That's where the business gets done.)

Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins: "I rely upon my professional experience in providing leadership in important situations." (I'm a plumbing contractor and I know how to pump it out when the doo-doo gets deep.)

House Majority Whip Greg Hughes: "We can really focus on the issues this year." (My beloved Steelers were cheated out of another Super Bowl, so no distractions for me.)

Conservative lawmakers: "This year we must defend states' rights and our liberty." (Delegates love this stuff.)

Liberal lawmakers: "I am outraged about how we treat the impoverished and those without a voice." (Expressing outrage is cheap and gets me media coverage.)

Democratic caucus: "Our caucus meetings are always open and we believe in transparent government." (You're welcome to attend, but nothing we say or do there has much consequence.)

Republican caucus: "We are responsible to get the state's business done, and sometimes private meetings are required to forge a consensus." (You wouldn't want to see the bloody rear-kicking that goes on in there.)

Ambitious male lawmakers: "I have a newfound respect for Speaker Becky Lockhart." (If she can be compared to the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, maybe people will liken me to Winston Churchill!)

House Minority Leader David Litvack: "I am proud to be the symbol of the loyal opposition." (There may be a lot more Republicans, but I have better hair and superior fashion tastes than any of them.)

Sen. Ben McAdams: "Sen. Ross Romero is a veritable institution on Capitol Hill. I greatly appreciate his seniority and good judgment." (Drop out, Ross, and support me for county mayor.)

Sen. Ross Romero: "With a little more seasoning, Sen. McAdams has the makings of a legislative star." (He's too young and overly ambitious to run for county mayor.)

House Clerk: "Warning, a tornado has been sighted!" (Rep. John Dougall has arrived.)

Legislative leaders: "When the gavel bangs sine die we can all leave this great building with a sense of pride that the public has been well served." (We hope we don't get HB477ed like we did last year.)

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: [email protected]. 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: [email protected]