Special Session July 17
Governor Gary Herbert has called a Special Session for July 17. The full extent of the call is up to the governor, but the House of Representatives has asked him to include several items related to the investigative committee that was recently formed. Following is an e-mail from Speaker Lockhart to all of the representatives that addresses the House issues.
Governor Herbert is calling for a Special Session on July 17. The Call comes in part at the request of the House to ensure that our new investigative committee has all the tools needed to conduct a thorough and fair investigation of the allegations surrounding the state’s Attorney General. The Senate has been very supportive and I greatly appreciate their consideration.
I understand the call is on short notice, but it is necessary. You voted to create an investigative committee, and in order for that investigation to be successful, there are a couple of things that need to be addressed in statute:
• First, technical changes — specifically ensuring that subpoena powers and offers of immunity work hand-in-hand. There is also a minor word change to ensure we can use special counsel from outside the state if we so choose. Those changes are easily addressed.
• The second set of changes address a more sensitive subject matter: open meetings and records access. The committee needs certain records and open meetings exemptions to properly conduct interviews and gather information. These powers are essentially the same as afforded any investigation into sensitive matters. Remember, we have never created such a committee and therefore the statutes have not included references to a Legislative Investigative Committee.
We have been in close discussions with the Utah Media Coalition and Utah Press Association, as well as longtime open records attorneys Jeff Hunt and Michael O’Brien. They helped to craft the bill in question and are in full agreement with the proposed language used in the bill.
Majority Leader Brad Dee will be the primary sponsor of both of the bills. I have attached drafts of the bills so that you can read them over, get questions answered and have your concerns addressed. We have asked the Governor to call the Special Session on the July 17 Interim Day because it is quite simply the most convenient time. The vast majority of lawmakers will be in the building for interim session already, and there is no interim scheduled for August. We would rather not spend $30,000 to bring everyone in for August, especially during a month of heavy travel.
Progress on the committee has already begun. Legislative staff has issued the RFP for Special Counsel, and we expect to have a person hired by Aug. 6. At that point, we will release an additional RFP for special investigators. I will be announcing the members of the investigative committee on July 17, as well.
As I have stated many times, the people of Utah want answers and information. We are meeting that need. But we must do it the right way, so that everyone can have confidence in the outcome — whatever that may be. Thank you for all that you do, and see you on the 17th.