Ten years ago when Arnold Christensen was toying with the idea of running for the Legislature, he asked then-Rep. Norm Bangerter how much time was required to do the job.
"Not very much," Bangerter replied."That's about the only time the governor ever lied to me," Christensen quipped Saturday. "It takes a lot of time. But it's public service and our greatest responsibility is to serve the public."
It's that message that Christensen, Senate president, passed on to some 18-20 new legislators who gathered Saturday at the Capitol to learn the ins and outs, and ups and downs of their jobs.
The new kids on the hill got lessons on taxes, appropriations, paychecks, protocol and the press. There were endless discussions on bills - those things on which they'll act, amend and adopt.
The freshman lawmakers also learned about fiscal analysts, fiscal notes, fiscal years - and fun.
"Let's not kid the public. It's fun being involved up here," said House Majority Leader Craig H. Moody, R-Salt Lake. "Although it's time-consuming and takes a lot of sacrifice, income and otherwise, it's worth the sacrifice when you look at the long-term benefit that we receive from it.
"And it's fun being involved with great people, and that's what you see in this body."
What was seen among lawmakers Saturday was bipartisan enthusiasm for their new part-time jobs.
"In fact, I have never seen a more excited group of new legislators," Moody told the gathering.
Legislative leaders hope that enthusiasm doesn't wilt in January when they're faced with some of the state's most formidable challenges.
"Our most pressing challenge will be the budget; how we can live within our means," Christensen said. "I think we will address that and will come up with the right answers. That will occupy most of our time."
According to Moody and Christensen, tax limitations, AIDS, hazardous waste, health care costs, insurance and education will also be priorities of the 1989 Legislature.
Moody is convinced new lawmakers will effectively tackle the issues.
"We have a great new body there. I say that in terms of both sides of the aisle. There is a lot of competence out there and a lot of people who have worked hard to have the opportunity to represent their constituents," he said.
The Republican believes that the fact that the legislators agree to disagree is healthy.
"That's what the system is all about. It's built on conflict," said Moody, who dispelled the rumor that " `to get along (means to) go along.' That has changed in Utah politics."
What's also changed is the increasing number of women being elected legislators.
"It's a first to have this many. I don't suppose we are here in any effort for the ERA and a big women's push so much as much as we would like to represent the women of Utah," said Rep. Dionne P. Halverson, D-Ogden, one of the newly elected lawmakers at Saturday's daylong seminar.
Halverson has served as a committee secretary on Capitol Hill for two years during legislative sessions, so "I'm pretty adept to what's going on.
"But any time you go into a situation like this you learn," she said. "I will learn today."
According to Christensen, Saturday's orientation was also designed to make the new legislators feel comfortable.
"It's to make them realize that this is their Legislature, but the public's business and our greatest goal is to serve the people," he said. "So as we address legislation, its not for any self-interest or for any specific company.
"Our purpose is simply to help make Utah a better place for people to live."