—By Jaren Wood
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, has always thought it important to serve in the community and give a voice to the voiceless. From the time that he was in college, he made the decision that he was going to choose a place of residence, and there he would find work. Little did he know, he would end up much further than where he thought and as one of Utah’s most prolific lawmakers.
Bramble grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and attended the University of Notre Dame. While in school, he happened upon the missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. At the age of 19, he made the decision to be baptized a member of that church, and a few months later, picked up his belongings and having little connection there, traveled to Provo, Utah. Today, he represents a large swath of land and constituents that include Provo, Orem and Wasatch County.
“I decided that I would work where I chose to live,” Bramble said. “I love Provo, and decided to plant my roots there. . .I have been indoctrinated in the Provo culture.”
Bramble attended Brigham Young University, where he got both undergrad, and graduate degrees in accounting, with a tax emphasis. He also met his wife, with whom he has six children, 12 grandchildren, and has been married for 38 years.
Bramble and his wife served on many boards and leadership councils throughout their lives, from the Chamber of Commerce, the Provo Airport Board, the Provo Rotary Board, and the Utah Transit Authority Board. It wasn’t until he was working on a tax case, and he ran into a rut, where the law would need to be changed, that he found his place in politics.
After an unsuccessful first try at a spot in the Utah State Legislature in 1996, he was elected in 2000, and is finishing up his fourth term as senator. While it hasn’t always been easy, he is honored to be serving his district as a senator.
By most measures, Bramble is one of the most successful lawmakers on the hill. According to data compiled by Adam Brown, a BYU political science professor, Bramble has introduced the highest average number of bills from 2007-2015 — about 17 per year. He’s tied with 30-year legislative veteran Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, for the highest average number of bills passed in that same time period. According to Brown’s calculation, during the 2015 session, Bramble sponsored 32 bills and 28 passed. Bramble says the number of bills he sponsored is closer to 70, which includes those he co-sponsored.
“It’s an incredible privilege to be elected to serve in the Legislature,” Bramble said. “I think the most important thing for me is representing the district effectively, and then being able to return and report to the district, not just what I’ve done, but far more importantly, why I’ve done what I’ve done.”
Through the course of the four terms, Bramble has been the sponsor more than hundreds of bills, 73 in the 2015 session alone. While he said that picking a specific bill as one of the most meaningful, or his favorite, would be like “picking which child is your favorite”, he talked about protecting the unborn children as many of the most important bills he’s sponsored. In the 2016 session, the state’s legislative website shows his name attached as a sponsor or co-sponsor to more than 50 bills.
“I think some of the most important legislation I’ve run is protecting the life of the unborn child, prohibiting state funding of abortion, and prohibiting late-term abortions,” Bramble said. “I believe passionately in the value of life, and believe that the unborn child has a right to be protected.”
One of the bills that Bramble mentions specifically the 2015 “Utah Compromise.” The bill helped the LGBT community by banning discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation, while also protecting religious institutions that object to homosexuality. He cited this bill as one of the most important things they do in legislation.
“We passed one of the strongest anti-discrimination divisions for the LGBT community and at the same time, it was one of the strongest religious liberties provisions of all 50 states,” Bramble said. “We had the religious communities, and the LGBT saying ‘yes, let’s work together.’”
One of Bramble’s interns, Zach Brown, has learned a lot from Bramble in the short few weeks that he’s spent with the senator. He talked about his leadership skills playing a key role in success.
“His theory is that if I’m gonna fight you, I’m gonna tell you I’m gonna’ fight you the week before and so by the time it gets to it, you bring your ‘A’ game,” Brown said. That’s a big contributor for why he’s the most effective legislator on the Hill; if you look at the statistics, he is far outside the average effectiveness as in how much stuff they’re able to accomplish.”
Brown’s claims are backed up by Bramble’s credentials. Bramble has won many awards, including National Legislator of the Year multiple times, the “Hero on the Hill” award, the “Shining Light” award, and is currently the president of the National Conference of State Legislators. As part of this position, he is over the 7,293 state legislators from across the country, and was elected by representatives from each state.
“He’s on fire,” said Ric Cantrell, chief of staff of the Utah Senate. “He’s a true leader and there is so much that you can learn from him.”
Still, Bramble claims there is much to be done, but is happy with the way that the legislation is progressing in the state. In his own words, “it all is a process.”
“I think more important than one particular bill is finding a problem, whether it be immigration, the election process, tax reform, energy philosophy, and find a way to bring all the stakeholders together, and find a solution that’s an american solution, that without regard to whether you’re Tea Party, Reagan Republican, or Democrat, you put forward a solution that can be embraced,” Bramble said.
Bramble said he has many goals for this session, but one stands out, “Whether it’s protecting individual liberty rights, pursuing economic strategies that are the envy of the nation, the most important thing this session is being an effective voice for this district.”