What do Rep. Marty Stephens and Sen. Al Mansell have in common - besides both being Republican, white male Utah legislators?
They are the most effective lawmakers in the 1997 and 1998 legislatures, a review of lawmakers' work by the Deseret News shows.Every two years the newspaper compiles a list of all the bills and constitutional amendments passed, and then compares that list against those introduced. (See charts page B2.)
The resulting ratios, combined with interviews with legislators, lobbyists and other legislative-watchers, make up a package - a legislative report card, if you will - aimed at educating voters about legislators seeking re-election.
Stephens, R-Farr West, is a longtime, top performer in the Deseret News' reviews in the 1990s. He has made the newspaper's "most effective" list since 1992. Mansell, R-Sandy, joins the elite 10 most-effective in the House and Senate for the second time.
Stephens, an executive with Zion Bank, is also the House budget chairman. In that position, he oversees the putting together of the huge $6.4 billion state budget. Over the past two years, Stephens introduced 12 bills: All passed for a perfect 100 percent effective ratio.
He said he couldn't say why he's had such success.
"I don't sponsor a lot of bills, only ones I think are really important, and then I work hard to get them passed. I guess you could say I don't like to fail," said Stephens.
Mansell is the owner of Mansell & Associates, one of the largest realty firms along the Wasatch Front. First elected in 1994, Mansell is now reportedly interested in a leadership post in the 29-member Senate. In the 1997 and 1998 sessions Mansell introduced 16 bills of which 15 passed, good for a 94 percent rating.
"I try to choose bills that make sense, and then I try to be willing to work with everybody to make them work," Mansell said. "I've had good luck, and I've probably learned what to work on and what not to."
Mansell made the Deseret News' most-effective list two years into his first term, despite tackling some controversial issues. His top ranking two years later proves it was no fluke.
"He exhibited good political judgment, and he will be rewarded for that," predicted one colleague.
Besides getting a perfect 100 rating, Stephens was also listed by a number of those interviewed by the Deseret News as an effective lawmaker. (See story on B2.)
Stephens clearly wants to be speaker of the House. He ran, but lost, a speakership contest in 1994 and has been waiting in the wings the past four years hoping House Speaker Mel Brown would step down from leadership. Brown, R-Midvale, however, has already announced this year that he'll seek another two-year term as speaker after the November legislative elections. Stephens said he has not yet decided whether he'll run for speaker this year.
The remaining top four effective lawmakers in the House include another perennial on the Deseret News list: Rep. Afton Bradshaw, R-Salt Lake City. But there's some newcomers as well - Reps. John Swallow, R-Sandy; Patrice Arent, D-South Cottonwood; and Keele Johnson, R-Blanding.
It's rare that freshmen lawmakers make the most-effective list, but one who did was Swallow, who was praised by members of both the House and Senate as a rising star. He sponsored 13 bills and 12 passed.
"For a freshman, he made his mark," said one. "He's a sound thinker. If he wants it, he should rise into leadership."
Arent is not only the sole Democrat on the "most effective" list, but she is also a freshman lawmaker. But many don't consider Arent a newcomer. In the 1980s she worked as an associate counsel for the Legislature itself, drafting bills for legislators and serving as a committee attorney. She later worked in the Attorney General's Office.
Over the past two years, Arent sponsored 11 bills, 10 of which passed. Arent is also mentioned by several of those interviewed as being an effective lawmaker.
"Patrice cuts a pretty broad swath through the Legislature," said one admirer. "She does her homework and people listen to her."
Another said Republicans are worried about Arent's future plans, in particular whether she will run for attorney general in the footsteps of her former boss, Attorney General Jan Graham. There is also considerable speculation she could be seeking a leadership role in the House, despite her lack of seniority.
Joining Mansell on the Senate's most-effective list are all Republicans: Sens. Steve Poulton, R-Holladay; Nathan Tanner, R-South Ogden; Lane Beattie, R-West Bountiful; and Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan.
Beattie, who is president of the Senate, and Hillyard have been on the Deseret News' list before, and both were listed by interviewees as influential, powerful and effective.
Hillyard is one of the great workhorses in the Senate, carrying many bills - some of them complicated tax matters - and still achieving a high success ratio. The assistant majority whip, Hillyard has already told colleagues he plans to run for majority leader later this year.
Unlike former Senate presidents who liked to play it safe, Beattie continues to take on some of the most controversial issues in the Legislature. In 1998 it was concealed weapons. But he reluctantly killed his gun bill after saying it couldn't pass the House.
While some say he has mellowed some over the past two years, Beattie is also considered one of the most controlling leaders in recent times.
As one lobbyist characterized it, "There is only one boss in the Senate," and Senate Republican leaders "do what Lane tells them. And that's it."
Another observed, "His Achilles heel is he is not a gracious winner. He is powerful, he is bright and he controls the agen-da. He can afford to be magnanimous. But he isn't."
Tanner also was listed as effective by a few of those contacted by the Deseret News. "Nathan stretched out this year, broadened his sights and surprised a few people," said one lobbyist.
Poulton is a perfect example of how a legislator can learn and grow in office. Just two years ago, Poulton was on the Deseret News' least-effective list with only a 16 percent success ratio. But over the past two years the insurance agent got wise - he sponsored fewer bills and was more careful about his subjects. He was 11 for 12, a 92 percent success ratio for 1997 and 1998.
However, Poulton has his detractors, as well. Several of those interviewed said Poulton is confrontational, sometimes erratic. He is very conservative when it comes to spending and led the failed effort in the Senate in 1997 to stop a gasoline-tax increase. That didn't win him points with Gov. Mike Leavitt's administration.
Not measuring up
The flip side of a good bill-success ratio, of course, is a poor one.
As has been the case in previous Deseret News' legislative report cards, once again several House members failed to get any of their bills passed. No senator was shut out altogether, but some came close.
Reps. Tammy Rowan, R-Orem; Loretta Baca, D-Salt Lake City; Richard Walsh, R-Union; and Duane Bourdeaux, D-Salt Lake City; all failed to get any bills through.
Rep. Glenn Way, R-Spanish Fork, had a miserable 11 percent success ratio that could have been much better if he hadn't crossed swords with Leavitt. Leavitt recently vetoed two of Way's bills that passed the 1998 Legislature.
While it is possible GOP leaders could call the Legislature into an override session and reverse Way's failures, it's very unlikely. And with those two vetoes, Way's success rate dropped way down.
Besides falling into the least-successful category, Way was also singled out by several of those interviewed as being controversial, very conservative and inflexible. Some of the fights Way seems to pick are not those a seasoned lawmaker would tackle, said one of those interviewed.
"He butts heads with the governor almost at every opportunity," said one colleague.
Rowan was criticized by several fellow lawmakers for forcing her English-As-Official-Language bill this past session. "She showed disrespect for the House when she demanded roll-call votes on the matter" after apparently telling some colleagues she would let stand the action of a committee that voted down her bill, said one House colleague.
"Her personal views are not more important than the process," this legislator said.
The least effective Senate list include Sens. Lorin Jones, R-Veyo; Ed Mayne, D-West Valley City; Craig Taylor, R-Kays-ville; and Millie Peterson, D-West Valley City.
Mayne, who just two years ago was praised in the Deseret News' report card by some of those interviewed, was criticized by several interviewees this year. One said Mayne simply talked too much during Senate debates. But the detractor admitted that Mayne, a large man who is also state president of the AFL-CIO, carried more legislative weight than his physical size.
Mayne was also involved in a nasty fight within Democratic Senate ranks. "Eddie and several other (Democratic) senators were so busy indicting each other they didn't keep their eyes on their work," said one lobbyist who watched the mess.
Taylor wasn't criticized for his work in 1998 but was for some of his 1997 efforts. Taylor, said one legislative-watcher, had apparently learned a lesson. "Instead of `hot button' issues (like gay student clubs Taylor has fought before), Craig stuck with bills reforming the judiciary (in 1998). A great improvement."
One Senate colleague observed that moderate Republicans had largely written off Taylor a year ago as an embarrassment to the GOP, and there were even reports the party was actively recruiting candidates to run against him.
But after 1998, they are quietly crossing their fingers that Taylor can be rehabilitated into the GOP mainstream.
And the great thing about politics is there is always room for redemption. It may even show up on their report card.
Rep. Marty Stephens
R-Farr West (Weber)
Sponsored and passed 12 bills over the past two years. It's been seven years since a Stephens bills did not become law.
Sen. Al Mansell
Fifteen of the 16 bills he introduced during 1997 and 1998 passed the Legislature and were signed by the governor.
Rep. Patrice Arent
Although just in her first term, she is the only Democrat to have introduced 10 or more bills and had almost all pass (10 of 11).
Sen. Lyle Hillyard Sen. Craig Peterson
Always two of the workhorses in the Senate, Hillyard and Peterson each has 27 bills pass during 1997 and 1998. Hillyard's ratio is a little better, having succeeded on 27 of 30 attempt; Peterson's 27-of-33 ratio also is well above average.
Rep. Gerry Adair
Had more bills pass -- 23 -- than any other member of the House of Representatives. He also introduced the most -- 33.
The majority of bills introduced in the Legislature the past two sessions passed. Republicans have more success than the minority Democrats.
HOUSE PASSED INTRODUCED PERCENT PASSED
Republicans 383 634 60%
Democrats 70 121 58%
Republicans 211 291 73%
Democrats 48 88 55%
Note: Does not include legislators who have announced they are leaving office
Senators seeking re-election
Totals for four-year term (1995-98) of bills passed, bills introduced and percentage:
... Passed/Introduced Percent passed
Dave Buhler (R-Salt Lake City) 35/67 52%
Al Mansell (R-Sandy) 24/27 88%
Eddie Mayne (D-West Valley City) 6/22 27%
Millie Peterson (D-West Valley City) 7/19 37%
Steve Poulton (R-Holladay) 15/36 42%
Dave Steele (R-West Point) 28/40 70%
Howard Stephenson (R-Draper) 28/61 46%
Nathan Tanner (R-Ogden) 15/18 83%
Craig Taylor (R-Kaysville) 26/60 43%
Bills introduced and passed by the 1997-98 Legislature
... Passed Introduced Passed
Lane Beattie (R-West Bountiful) 91% 11 10
Leonard Blackham (R-Moroni) 69% 23 16
David Buhler (R-Salt Lake City) 66% 29 19
Mike Dmitrich (D-Price) 72% 18 13
R. Mont Evans (R-Riverton) 89% 18 16
Lyle Hillyard (R-Logan) 90% 30 27
Scott Howell (D-Granite) 50% 14 7
Joe Hull (D-Hooper) 71% 7 5
Lorin Jones (R-Veyo) 29% 7 2
Al Mansell (R-Sandy) 94% 16 15
Eddie Mayne (D-West Valley City) 31% 13 4
Robert Montgomery (R-North Ogden) 53% 17 9
Robert Muhlestein (R-Mapleton) 56% 9 5
Howard Nielson (R-Provo) 50% 8 4
Craig Peterson (R-Orem) 82% 33 27
Millie Peterson (D-West Valley City) 33% 13 4
Steve Poulton (R-Holladay) 92% 12 11
David Steele (R-West Point) 67% 18 12
Howard Stephenson (R-Draper) 62% 21 13
Pete Suazo (D-Salt Lake City) 63% 24 15
Nathan Tanner (R-South Ogden) 92% 13 12
Craig Taylor (R-Kaysville) 31% 13 4
Michael Waddoups (R-Taylorsville) 69% 13 9
Not seeking re-election: John Holmgren, R-Bear River City; George Mantes, D-Tooele; LeRay McAllister, R-Orem; Alarik Myrin, R-Altamont; Robert Steiner, D-Salt Lake City; and Blaze Wharton, D-Murray.
UTAH HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Bills introduced and passed by the 1997-98 Legislature
... Passed Introduced Passed
Gerry Adair (R-Roy) 70% 33 23
Jeff Alexander (R-Provo) 70% 10 7
Brian Allen (R-Cottonwood Heights) 52% 29 15
Sheryl Allen (R-Bountiful) 69% 13 9
Eli Anderson (D-Tremonton) 83% 6 5
Patrice Arent (D-South Cottonwood) 91% 11 10
Loretta Baca (D-Salt Lake City) 0% 5 0
Tricia Beck (D-Sandy) 100% 4 4
Ralph Becker (D-Salt Lake City) 50% 4 2
Ron Bigelow (R-West Valley City) 71% 7 5
Duane Bourdeaux (D-Salt Lake City) 0% 2 0
Bud Bowman (R-Cedar City) 83% 6 5
Afton Bradshaw (R-Salt Lake City) 91% 11 10
Mel Brown (R-Midvale) 57% 7 4
Katherine Bryson (R-Orem) 57% 7 4
Perry Buckner (D-Oquirrh) 55% 11 6
Judy Ann Buffmire (D-Millcreek) 100% 5 5
Don Bush (R-Clearfield) 86% 7 6
Craig Buttars (R-Lewiston) 50% 8 4
Mary Carlson (D-Salt Lake City) 30% 10 3
Blake Chard (R-Layton) 79% 19 15
Gary Cox (D-Kearns) 64% 11 7
Greg Curtis (R-Sandy) 60% 15 9
*Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake City) 32% 19 6
Margaret Dayton (R-Orem) 50% 6 3
Marda Dillree (R-Farmington) 69% 13 9
*Beverly Evans (R-Altamont) 48% 21 10
Lloyd Frandsen (R-South Jordan) 67% 12 8
Kevin Garn (R-Layton) 75% 8 6
David Gladwell (R-North Ogden) 50% 8 4
Brent Goodfellow (D-West Valley City) 80% 5 4
James Gowans (D-Tooele) 56% 9 5
Wayne Harper (R-West Jordan) 71% 14 10
Tom Hatch (R-Panguitch) 78% 18 14
Brent Haymond (R-Springville) 50% 28 14
Neal Hendrickson (D-West Valley City) 100% 7 7
Bill Hickman (R-St. George) 33% 12 4
David Hogue (R-Riverton) 36% 11 4
Bryan Holladay (R-West Jordan) 60% 10 6
Dennis Iverson (R-Washington) 56% 9 5
Brad Johnson (R-Aurora) 70% 10 7
Keele Johnson (R-Blanding) 91% 11 10
David Jones (D-Salt Lake City) 40% 10 4
Brad King (D-Price) 67% 3 2
*Peter Knudson (R-Brigham City) 57% 14 8
Susan Koehn (R-Woods Cross) 53% 19 10
Joseph Murray (R-Ogden) 80% 5 4
Lowell Nelson (R-Highland) 30% 10 3
Evan Olsen (R-Young Ward) 43% 14 6
**Loraine Pace (R-Logan) 100% 2 2
Tammy Rowan (R-Orem) 0% 7 0
Carl Saunders (R-Weber) 42% 12 5
Jack Seitz (R-Vernal) 57% 7 4
Ray Short (R-Holladay) 86% 14 12
Richard Siddoway (R-Bountiful) 38% 8 3
Marty Stephens (R-Farr West) 100% 12 12
Nora Stephens (R-Sunset) 35% 17 6
Michael Styler (R-Delta) 69% 13 9
John Swallow (R-Sandy) 92% 13 12
Jordan Tanner (R-Provo) 54% 13 7
LaMont Tyler (R-East Millcreek) 64% 11 7
David Ure (R-Kamas) 54% 28 15
John Valentine (R-Orem) 83% 18 15
Richard Walsh (R-Union) 0% 3 0
Glenn Way (R-Spanish Fork) 11% 9 1
Bill Wright (R-Elberta) 64% 14 9
David Zolman (R-Taylorsville) 44% 9 4
*Running for state Senate
**Appointed halfway through term
Not seeking re-election to Legislature: John Arrington, D-Ogden; Steve Barth, D-Salt Lake City; Orville Carnahan, R-Taylorsville; Chris Fox-Finlinson, R-Lehi; Robert Killpack, R-Murray; Pat Larson, D-Ogden; Swen Nielsen, R-Provo; and Dan Tuttle, D-Magna.