Before StatehoodThe Utah Territory was established by an act of Congress on Monday, September 9, 1850 which provided for a territorial government made up of a territorial governor chosen every four years, a territorial Assembly with a 13-member council chosen every second year and a 26-member House of Representatives chosen annually, and a territorial Judiciary made up of a Supreme Court, District Courts, Probate Courts, and justices of the peace. The creation of the Territory of Utah was part of the Compromise of 1850 seeking to preserve the political balance of power between the slave and free states. Following the organization of the territory, Brigham Young was inaugurated as its first governor on Sunday, February 9, 1851 and the first territorial assembly met Monday, September 22, 1851. The legislative body of the Utah Territory continued to act until 1896 with the successful passage of the Utah Constitution and Utah achieving statehood. The first President of the Utah Territorial Senate was Willard Richards and the first Territorial Speaker of the House was William Wines Phelps. In 1870, the length of a Representative’s term was extended to two years, and in 1896 the Utah Territorial Council became the Utah Senate with a four-year term.
About the Current BodyThe Utah Constitution assigns legislative power to a part-time citizen legislature that meets each year, beginning in January and ending in March. When the legislative session adjourns, senators return home to their homes, families, and regular occupations to live under the laws they created. Senators occupations include attorneys, businessmen, businesswomen, bankers, educators, an engineer, CPAs, homemakers, a pharmacist, a nurse, a doctor, a dentist, an orthodontist and former university president. The political makeup of the Utah Senate is about 80 percent Republican and 20 percent Democrat.
Running for the Senate
Do you want to serve? The State Constitution outlines the qualifications to become a senator:
- A citizen of the United States
- A resident of the state of Utah for three years
- At least 25 years old
- A resident of the district from which they are elected for six months
- A qualified voter in that district
- Senators are elected to four-year terms, with roughly half the Senate standing for election every two years.