For his efforts in pushing HB397, the bill that attempts to address the inequity in the Utah property tax picture through the Legislature, Rep. John L. Valentine, R-Orem, has received the Taxpayer Advocate Award from the Utah Taxpayer's Association.

The honor was announced by Howard Stephenson, Utah Taxpayers Association executive director, during the group's 13th annual tax conference in Little America.HB397 was passed by the Legislature earlier this year in response to a Utah Supreme Court opinion that said property assessed by the state is assessed at a higher rate than property assessed by local taxing entities, violating the Utah Constitution.

Amax Magnesium Corp. filed a lawsuit because of the inequity and HB397 has been called the "Amax bill."

"I will be the first to admit that HB397 isn't anything to brag about. It inflicts a little pain on all taxpayers. The Amax solution is ugly, but it's the least ugly of the alternatives," said Stephenson in announcing the award.

Stephenson said Valentine has served on the Revenue and Taxation Committee since his election in 1988, showed an unusual grasp of complex taxation issues and "quickly gained respect and effectiveness as sponsor of several key tax bills."

In pushing HB397, Stephenson said Valentine had to choose between politics and statesmanship. "Fortunately for taxpayers, he chose statesmanship," Stephenson said.