A Look At Utah Legislature From Afar-And Too Close

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My first trip to the floor of the Utah state legislature was a real smash-literally.

While trying to duck into the tiny press box on the floor of the House I smacked my head on the giant steel tote board that keeps track of all the pending bills and put a nice-sized welt on my forehead.

The leftover welt was nothing like the headache Utah credit unions were feeling as they work to fend off the biggest tax threat in years.

The scene at the Utah Statehouse is one repeated at many capitols throughout the country and refreshing to see for one who regularly follows the high-stakes, big-money politics in Washington. It was of regular people, some wearing overalls and blue jeans, mingling with their representatives as they exited the House floor; pressing the flesh, along with their pet issues. "Doing the people's business" is how one participant put it to me. And lawmakers in both the House and Senate have little compunction about stopping and talking with their constituents, or even an out-of-state reporter.

What a wonderful concept; the average citizen able to lobby and talk with his or her legislator just before or after debate takes place on an important issue.

And the scenery at the Utah capitol, also known also as Capitol Hill, as it sits atop the majestic city of Salt Lake City, is remarkable. The capitol building and the city itself are ringed by the snow-covered mountains, most of it the Wasatch Mountain Range. The statehouse itself is overseen by giant full-color murals depicting Brigham Young and the Mormon trek that founded the state.

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