- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - After approving a budget and tearing through dozens of bills until midnight, Utah lawmakers are headed home after wrapping up this year’s legislative session late Thursday.

“I think we’re done,” Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said at 11:59 p.m., despite at least 35 bills waiting to be addressed. “There’s just no way.”

The House, too, called it quits with at least 10 bills waiting for immediate action.

Gov. Gary Herbert addressed both chambers after adjourned and took time to recognize House Speaker Becky Lockhart, who is not planning to run for re-election this fall and is widely considered to be a possible challenger for Herbert in 2016.

Herbert acknowledged Lockhart’s 16 years spent in the Legislature and called her role as the state’s first female speaker of the House “a history making event.”

Lockhart cried several times while addressing the House.

“This house is practically my home,” she said.

Several other representatives announced Thursday and early Friday morning that they were not seeking re-election in 2014.

Legislators adjourned for the year without passing bills tackling several high-profile issues, including a sweeping school technology plan, Medicaid, gay marriage and liquor laws.

SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY

Lockhart came forward with an ambitious technology plan this year that could get tablets in the hands of every Utah public and charter school student. Lockhart was seeking about $200 million for the project, which Senate leaders balked at. Gov. Gary Herbert threatened to veto the measure if cost much more than $26 million - the amount the Senate was willing to pony up.

The issue stalled budget talks until Lockhart pulled the issue from the negotiating table.

LAWMAKER REACTION:

Lockhart said earlier this week that senators were only offering “change out of the couch cushions” to pay for the proposal.

Niederhauser said the idea is a good one, but it wasn’t ready. He expects they’ll take up the issue next year or beyond, once they’ve had more time to study it.

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