Utah Legislators Who Listen | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Cover Story

Utah Legislators Who Listen

City Weekly-approved starter list of approachable lawmakers.


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If you’re still scratching your head about how to negotiate the legislative maze, fear not. Below is a starter list of legislators that merit approaching. City Weekly wouldn’t want to necessarily “out” these legislators with a scarlet “M” for “moderate,” but let’s just say these lawmakers present good lobbying options. Because of their approachability and a history of stepping outside of the party lines to compromise with lawmakers on the other side of the aisle, these are solid bets with whom to test your convictions.

Keep in mind, of course, that most legislators will listen to you. But unless you’ve got mad skills of rhetoric, let’s face it, there are some legislators you’re never going to sway from their ideology or constituent base.

On the flipside, there are the legislators who eat up almost everything you say, and even high-five you after hearing your pitch. Unfortunately, these legislators probably agreed with your position before you ever showed up, so you really haven’t advanced your cause. Therefore, consider this short list as worth approaching to sway votes on certain key underdog issues at the Legislature.


Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George
634 E. 100 South, St. George
Office: 435-668-7759

• This August, Urquhart was a firm backer of Amanda Smith, Huntsman’s pick for director of the Department of Environmental Quality, a known greenie who once worked for the Nature Conservancy.
When Urquhart was chairman of the Senate Rules Committee in 2007 and 2008, he allowed Democrats to pick the same number of bills for committee assignment as the Republicans.

Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem
857 E. 970 North, Orem
Home: 801-224-1693
Office: 801-373-6345

Passed legislation in 2009 prohibiting candidates from pocketing their leftover campaign savings.
Senate sponsor for legislation that reformed Utah’s liquor laws and got rid of private-club memberships.

Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful
620 Larsen Drive, Bountiful
Home: 801-295-8576
Work: 801-402-5184

An ethics reformer before ethics were cool. Although she didn’t sign it, Allen was one of the representatives at the center of an ethics complaint against Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper—which served as a catalyst for the current (attempted) ethics reforms.

Rep. Steve Mascaro, R-West Jordan
3075 W. 9050 South
Home: 801-569-2719

Mascaro was a vocal critic of the private school vouchers.
For years, Mascaro worked with Democrat Pat Jones (when she was in the House) to reform taxes to boost funding for education.

Rep. Brent Wallis, R-Ogden
5145 S. Waco Dr.
Home: 801-479-6183
Cell: 801-452-3217

Wallis was the only Republican to vote in favor of 2009’s House Bill 267, sponsored by Rep. Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake City, which would have extended housing and workplace protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Utahns. Also, he is a champion for higher education funding.

Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan
9241 S. Lisa Avenue, West Jordan
Home: 801-561-0535

• Buttars may not be a big fan of “the gays” but he is an ardent supporter of sensible treatment for drug offenders. He was a sponsor of the embattled Drug Offender Reform Act of 2006 that created community treatment options that would be an alternative to prison for drug offenders.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan
595 S. Riverwoods Parkway, Logan
Home: 435-753-0043
Office: 435-752-2610
• Hillyard might not be too crazy about the current citizen’s ethics initiative, but in 2008 he was receptive to at least to increasing severance taxes on oil and natural gas to help bolster the state’s trust fund, instead of taking a purely ideological stance on the position.

Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns
5438 W. Stonyridge Circle, Kearns
Home: 801-963-2639
• Hutchings has proven his ability to cross party lines, since he was actually elected as a Democrat in a special election and then switched parties. In 2009, he proposed a bill that would have required legislators obtain their own health insurance from the private market instead of enjoying the state government insurance.

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy
3182 E. Granite Woods Lane, Sandy
Home: 801-942-3398
Office: 801-558-4766
• Niederhauser is expected to sponsor a 2010 bill to offer low-interest loans for promoting home energy conservancy. A fiscally smart bill that would help promote energy efficiency—which is about as a green as a Utah republican will likely get.
• Niederhauser also sponsored the 2009 bill creating the transparency website for tracking state government spending (transparent.utah.gov).

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden
1233 E. 2250 North, North Ogden
Home: 801-782-5600
Cell: 801-710-0315
• Christensen was the only Republican to vote against the controversial immigration omnibus bill, SB81, in 2008. Christensen argued the approach was overbroad, choosing instead to support more surgical immigrant-crime measures, such as legislation out of the 2009 session that created a taskforce for targeting violent and major crimes from undocumented immigrants.