Republicans Sen. Stuart Adams and Rep. Brad Wilson will return to the Utah Legislature as Senate President and House Speaker next year.
Days after the 2022 midterm, and as final votes are still being tallied, state lawmakers have started to elect their leaders for the 2023 Utah Legislature.
House and Senate Republicans met Thursday evening to pick their leadership teams, with few surprises emerging from those closed-door votes.
Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, both won a third term in chamber leadership.
Wilson is just the second House Speaker in Utah history to serve three terms. The last was Marty Stephens, who was elected in 1998 and served in that role until 2004, when he launched an unsuccessful bid for governor.
Adams also won a third term as Senate President, which is a recent tradition in that chamber. His two immediate predecessors also served three two-year terms on the dais.
The rest of the Senate majority leadership team remained unchanged. Republican Sen. Evan Vickers of Cedar City was selected to continue as majority leader. State Sen. Ann Millner of Ogden is the majority whip and Sen. Kirk Cullimore ofSandy is the majority assistant whip.
During a Thursday night press conference, Adams repeated his well-worn talking points about the strength of Utah’s economy and promised another round of tax cuts in the session which begins in January.
“I would predict 2023 will be another year of the tax cut,” Adams said, while also promising an effort to increase teacher salaries in the coming session.
The only change from last year on the House majority was Clearfield Rep. Karianne Lisonbee replacing Orem’s Rep. Val Peterson as majority assistant whip. Peterson reportedly did not run to retain his leadership spot. Instead, he will become the House chair of the Legislature’s top budgeting committee, replacing Brad Last who is retiring from the Legislature at the end of the year.
Lisonbee’s anti-abortion stance put her at the center of high-profile controversies earlier this year. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, throwing the question of abortion rights back to the states, Lisonbee said Utah women bore some responsibilities for unwanted pregnancies, and she trusted them to “control their intake of semen.”
In September, Lisonbee and Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, sent cease and desist letters using legislative letterhead to abortion providers warning them that they could face prosecution if they continued to provide those services. Lisonbee is the co-author of Utah’s abortion trigger law that banned nearly all abortion in the state, which is currently on hold pending a legal challenge.
Utah House Majority Leader Mike Schultz of Hooper and House Majority Whip Jefferson Moss of Saratoga Springs were selected by their colleagues to remain in those positions for the next two years.
Utah Senate Democrats picked an all-female leadership team for the 2023 session on Thursday morning.
State Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, will be the new Senate minority leader, swapping places with Sen. Karen Mayne, D-Salt Lake City, who moved into the number two slot as minority whip.
Senator-elect Jennifer Plumb, D-Salt Lake City, will be the new assistant minority whip, while Senator-elect Stephanie Pitcher, D-Salt Lake City, is the Minority Caucus Manager. Pitcher, who currently represents Utahns in House District 40, is projected to win her race for the Utah Senate.
House Democrats won’t meet to elect leaders until Nov. 22, after the election results have been officially certified. Current House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, tells The Salt Lake Tribune that he won’t seek a fifth consecutive term leading the minority party.