Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Sen. John L. Valentine speaks to the Senate as Utah legislators meet Friday, March 25, 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY — Though his Senate colleagues said it was hard to let him go, they unanimously confirmed Sen. John Valentine to head the Utah Tax Commission on Wednesday.

Gov. Gary Herbert nominated him to the job last month. Valentine will resign his seat at the end of the month after 26 years in the Utah Legislature.

Senate Minority Assistant Whip Pat Jones, D-Holladay, had one question for Valentine: Why?

"This is a poignant moment for me. This has been my life and this has been family. It's been a very tough decision," Valentine said.

The Orem Republican said he wrestled with the decision for several months before deciding with his wife, Karen, that it was time for someone else to have the seat and for him to serve in another capacity.

Senators on both sides of the aisle described him as a mentor who brought wisdom, guidance and character to the Senate.

"I think Utah is way better off for having John Valentine serve these past 26 years," said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross.

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Valentine, 65, has served in the Legislature since September 1988, when he was appointed to the House by then-Gov. Norm Bangerter. He served there for 10 years, including stints as chairman of the rules and executive appropriations committees, as well as majority whip.

In 1998, then-Gov. Mike Leavitt appointed him to the Senate, where he served two terms as president. He is the second-longest serving current lawmaker behind Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan.

An attorney, Valentine specializes in tax law at Howard, Lewis & Petersen in Provo. He will give up his practice while working for the tax commission.

Valentine replaces Bruce Johnson, who served four four-year terms on the tax commission.

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