Republican leaders note economic expansion and mental health are priorities for 2021 legislature

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The 2021 general session of the Utah Legislature began Tuesday with a familiar face from Utah politics.

Recently retired Representative Rob Bishop, R-Utah – who also served as Speaker of the State House in the 1990s – sworn in new and old members of the House of Representatives.

“Congratulations. You are now part of this body,” Bishop said. “You will find that you are now part of the fastest and longest 45 days of your life.”

Bishop then handed the reins over to Speaker of the House Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville. In her opening remarks, Wilson touched on the challenges of the past year, from the pandemic to natural disasters to civil unrest.

“But in the midst of all of this tragedy, we’ve seen the Utahns face adversity with determination, overcome challenges with innovation, and uplift others with compassion,” Wilson said.

He also said it was a time of “great opportunity” and wanted to build on Utah’s economy by revising business regulations.

“In a hyper-competitive market, we just can’t afford to crush new industries before they can even take off,” Wilson said, “forcing them into a regulatory framework that never envisioned the innovations of tomorrow’s economy.

In the Senate, President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said he wanted to focus on the state’s mental health efforts.

He mentioned a drop-in center in Davis County that diverts people facing mental health crises from prison and said he wanted to see more programs like this statewide.

“Through the pandemic, mental health needs have increased,” Adams said. “We cannot ignore this growing concern. Utah should create models the country can use to help solve this important problem. “

Republicans hold a qualified majority in both chambers. Adams and Wilson have each said they want a tax cut for the Utahns this year.

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