Lawmakers adjourned Utah's 45-day regular session, having spent most of their time balancing the state's nearly $10.9 billion budget. In order to keep Utah out of the red in 2009 and 2010, legislatures had to cut state programs across the board and utilize $561 million
from the Federal stimulus package. Despite budget woes the legislature
did find time to pass hundreds of pieces of legislation, including the
most sweeping changes to the state's liquor laws in 40 years, which
eliminated a much criticized system under which customers were required
to fill out an application and pay a fee before being allowed to enter
a bar. All in all the 2009 legislative session in Utah produced mixed
results. Some bills produced small steps forward, but on the whole,
the session fell short of creating necessary reform.
In a positive step forward for federal respect of state regulatory powers, President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider a previously denied waiver to allow California to set more stringent auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards than required by federal law. In a statement by the White House, President Obama said "the federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." The directive represents not only greater respect for state authority, but also a sharp break from the climate policies of President Obama's predecessor.