Harper elected National Conference of State Legislatures vice presidentOct 01, 2022 08:53PM ● By Carl Fauver
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
Between the House (1997-2012) and Senate (2013-present), Wayne Harper has been representing the Salt Lake Valley’s westside on Utah’s Capitol Hill for a quarter-century.
For the past decade, he’s doubled up on his lawmaking duties as a Taylorsville City executive – his current title: economic and community development director.
And this summer, Harper put another duty on his already full public service plate – now serving as vice president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“I have been active in the NCSL since 1998 and am very honored to be elected vice president,” Harper said. “This was the first time I ever submitted my name and resume for consideration. That’s rare to get in on your first try – so I am excited.”
A bipartisan organization representing nearly 7,400 state lawmakers and more than 30,000 legislative staff, NCSL is the largest and most prestigious nationwide association of state elected leaders in the country.
“We’re so pleased Wayne is taking this (VP) position because he is so well-respected and looked up to,” Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson told city council members while announcing Harper’s new post at one of their recent meetings. “He works so hard for Taylorsville and also looks out for our needs at the state legislature. He knows so many people – and has such wonderful contacts – it is amazing. I’m very happy for him.”
Harper’s NCSL vice presidency actually sets him off on a 4-year executive leadership journey with the organization. Next summer he will become the association’s president-elect, followed by president in 2024-25 and president emeritus the following year.
“NCSL has done an exceptional job promoting legislative institutions and supporting legislators and staff,” Harper said. “As vice president, one of my principal goals is to continue enhancing the policy and processes NCSL has established to help elected officials, regardless of their party affiliation, work together and collaborate on the most challenging problems of our time.”
Harper follows three previous Utah lawmakers who ascended to the NCSL presidency: Curt Bramble (2015-16), Marty Stephens (2003-04) and Miles “Cap” Ferry (1983-84).
“Utah has always been one of the more active states in NCSL,” Harper added. “We generally have 15 to 20 staff members, and 20 to 30 members of our House and Senate, attending the association’s annual summer conference.”
The National Conference of State Legislatures actually holds two annual gatherings. Harper says the primary session is always in August, normally drawing 7,000 to 9,000 attendees. That “summit” moves to different cities each year. Salt Lake City hosted it in 2004. A second gathering – normally between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year – draws 1,500 to 2,000 people.
Harper hopes to spend his time as NCSL president helping to unite our politically-fractured country.
“We have a lot of contention in the country right now; but we are all Americans,” he said. “If you look at the voting records in all states, at least 80% of all votes are harmonious. We all agree we need to fund health and welfare, education, public safety, job development. My goal is to get people around the table and work on the 80% we agree on. I don’t want to see tribes and partisan riffs in our country.”
Additionally, Harper hopes to address what he considers to be “executive order overreach” in Washington, D.C.
“The Federal Government is expanding beyond its authority through executive orders,” he added. “This is a big concern the NCSL has already begun to look at – and I plan to continue that.”
Just a couple of weeks before Harper was elected NCSL vice president, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox was elected vice chair of the National Governors Association, another bipartisan group that collaborates to address many pressing priorities.
“There are seven large, national groups in our country that represent state legislators and governors,” Harper concluded. “I am now VP of one, while Gov. Cox is vice chair of another. I think that’s a pretty big kudo for our state.”