Security threat forces Utah legislative session online, Gov. Cox endorses move

Armed militia members cross the lawn of the Utah State Capitol Jan. 6. 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 13, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has issued a statement endorsing the Utah Legislature’s move to conduct business virtually during the upcoming session due to security concerns.

“I fully support the Legislature’s careful decision to shift legislative business online,” Cox said. “We appreciate the counsel of the Utah Highway Patrol in monitoring potential social unrest and keeping the public, state employees and the Capitol building safe.”

The statement from the Cox’s office indicated the Utah Highway Patrol would provide additional security over the weekend due to planned protests at the Capitol and the “Utah national guard will be available to help, if needed.”

The Utah Legislature announced the decision in a press statement issued Wednesday, one week after the deadly riot in Washington, D.C., the same day armed men joined a pro-Trump demonstration at the Utah State Capitol.

“Out of an abundance of caution public participation in legislative proceedings will be temporarily conducted virtually,” the statement said. “The decision comes after the Utah Highway Patrol raised concerns with legislative leadership about protests planned at the Capitol, coinciding with the opening of the 45-day annual general session.”

Utah Speaker of the House Brad Wilson is quoted as saying, “Our primary concerns are for the safety of those who would be in the Capitol under ordinary circumstances and for the Legislature to be able to conduct the business of the people without interruption.

“It’s unfortunate we have to take this step but we have procedures and technologies in place to allow us to adjust and move forward,” Wilson said. “We will work closely with the Utah Highway Patrol as we evaluate conditions and determine when in-person options can resume.”


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