19 Republicans Switch Vote on HB 76 – Who and Why?

HouseLast Friday, legislators officially decided not to override Governor Herbert’s veto of the controversial gun rights bill, HB 76. Had the legislature decided to hold a veto override session, it would have been the second time in as many years and would have called into question the power Herbert has as the Chief Executive compared to the Legislative branch.

In all, 19 Republicans who had supported the initial passage of HB 76 opted not to challenge Herbert’s veto, allowing current state law surrounding concealed weapons permits to stand.

Some of the more interesting switches included Senator Curt Bramble, long considered to be one of the more pragmatic lawmakers on the hill, signaling that popularity for the bill waned in the final days and weeks of the legislative session. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser also changed his mind on the matter, no doubt knowing that an override was unlikely in the Senate and wishing to avoid diminishing the power within his own chamber.

The majority of House members swapping their votes and opting to allow current law to stand fall into two main camps: Moderates and Libertarians. On the moderate side Representatives such as Edwards most likely switched due to concerns from their constituents; Libertarian leaning lawmakers such as Powell struggled with the bill from early on and may have changed their vote due to increased debate.

One vote change of note was Democrat Larry Wiley who initially voted against passage of HB 76 but opted to vote for a veto override session.

If the override were to pass, Utah would have been one of the select few states known as a “Constitutional Carry” state. Constitutional Carry states allow any citizens legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon without a concealed weapons permit. Proponents relied heavily on Second Amendment rights whereas opponents noted that there are many public safety concerns that could easily avoided by maintaining the status quo. The bill sponsor, Representative John Mathis, often spoke of his commitment to the bill and will, most likely, attempt to bring the bill back in some form in future years.

In all, the following Republicans changed their vote: Senators Bramble, Knudson, Okerlund, Valentine, Vickers, and Niederhauser; Representatives Cox, Draxler, Edwards, Frorer, Handy, Ipson, Pitcher, Powell, Redd, Snow, Stanard, Stratton, and Tanner.

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