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By Wayne Niederhauser
Utah Senate President
Last month, Senator John Valentine decided that he will accept an appointment from Governor Herbert to serve as the Chair of the Utah State Tax Commission.
Upon his confirmation to the position (likely on Wednesday), he’ll resign after 26 years of legislative service.
John’s departure is bittersweet. While it may be a net win for Utah, it’s certainly a loss for the legislature in terms of institutional memory, depth of experience, and bandwidth. He is undoubtedly one of the brightest and most capable men ever to have served in the Utah Legislature.
Senator Valentine was appointed by Governor Norm Bangerter to serve in the House in 1988. Ten years later he moved to the Utah Senate. From 2004 to 2008, he served as our Senate President. During his term, he established an atmosphere of openness to the public and elegant policy craftsmanship that continues to be present today. As president, he was integral in the renovation and rededication processes of the capitol building.
[Speech: Senate President John Valentine Speaks at the Capitol Dedication]
Innovative, dedicated, and driven to succeed, John has championed many reform efforts throughout the years.
Senator Valentine has served in many leadership roles including, most recently, the Chair of the Senate Rules committee since 2012. When it comes to policy and process, he uses the care and precision of a seasoned attorney. John has brought fiscal and tax expertise to our balanced budgets, bonding decisions, transportation funding, and state agency funding. He led out on the process by which we changed Utah’s tax structure from a progressive tax to a modified flat tax, which made Utah exponentially more attractive to businesses, and is one of the reasons why we maintain such a strong economic outlook throughout the years.
Valentine has always encouraged transparency and connectedness, and he is innovative about it. He embraced opportunities to try new things – to go where no other government had gone before. Under his administration, the Senate began live media briefings held daily during the session, and they continue to this day. His take on transparency was novel, rare, and has helped shaped the culture of the Utah Senate. In 2006, he put a webcam in his office that anyone could access online at any time.
The idea here is simple: You own the government. You pay for it. You elect us and pay us and you live with the consequences of what we do. Yet, many citizens are fundamentally detached from the policy work of the legislature. That can be dangerous. The new SenateCam is one more little tool to try to bridge that gap — to try and break down a little of the “inner-corridors-of-power” mystique. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We’ll see.
The depth of experience he has contributed to the legislature and the legislative process has been invaluable – but even more than that, his personality, interests, and dedication to service has touched many lives outside of the political realm. He is truly a renaissance man: an attorney, a CPA, a Utah State Bar Examiner, an adjunct professor, and more. When crisis strikes, John steps up and helps takes care of the situation. His expertise helps those around him to stay calm. He volunteers his time to work with Utah County’s Search and Rescue team and in church service. Whether you’re hanging off a cliff or your legislation needs a rescue, John Valentine is and has always been the man to help.
He always has a good story to share and a hand to lend.
His work in alcohol policy reform has created waves and encouraged productive discussion. John has always worked to strike the right balance between the preference and sensibilities of these seeking alcohol and the harm and social costs associated with its use and abuse. His work has helped to keep our families, children and streets more safe, while protecting every citizen’s freedom to choose their lifestyle.
Last year, he orchestrated a touching reunion for Utah family whose father had been serving in Afghanistan for 9 months – a classic example of the kindness and good heart that he possesses.
The people of Utah’s Senate District 14 have been well served by John Valentine. We will miss his energy, enthusiasm, and intellect. We hate to see him go, but we know that John’s enthusiasm for public service and unmatched experience base will make him a phenomenal Tax Commissioner.
Best of luck on the new adventure, Senator Valentine.
I would invite readers to post their good wishes and favorite John Valentine memories in the comments, below.
Coverage of the August announcement
– Thoughts from Senator Valentine on his 26 years of service, Daily Herald
– Sen. John Valentine tabbed to head Utah Tax Commission, Deseret News
– Valentine Resigning from Legislature to Head Utah Tax Commission, Utah Policy
– Longtime state senator John Valentine to become head of Utah tax commission, The Republic
– Herbert taps Valentine for top tax commission spot, Daily Herald
– Valentine to step down from Senate to chair tax commission, Fox 13
– Utah’s ‘Mr. Liquor’ leaving Legislature to head Tax Commission, Salt Lake Tribune
– Veteran legislator to step down after 26 years to lead Utah Tax Commission, Salt Lake Tribune
– Governor appoints new chair of Utah Tax Commission, KCSG
– State senator Valentine to head tax commission, Standard-Examiner via Associated Press
More John Valentine throughout the years
– From Brian Schott, Valentine on Record Number of Bills in 2014.
– A 2008 YouTube video from President Valentine on the passing of LDS Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley.
– A 2008 Picasa Album that includes some quintessential John Valentine moments.
– A 2008 interview with UtahValley360 about taxes, vouchers, and Mitt.
– Senator Valentine outlining DABC legislation in 2012.
– Speaking at a Higher Education Rally in 2009.
– Senator Valentine’s profile from the old Senate Site.