State Sens. Paul Rogers, R-Orem, and Jack Bangerter, R-Bountiful, have decided not to seek re-election this year.
Sen. Ivan Matheson, R-Cedar City, has already announced his retirement, so with the departure of Rogers and Bangerter there will be at least three new faces in the 29-member Senate next year. Fourteen senators' terms expire in January.Bangerter and Matheson both entered the Senate in 1976. Rogers served four years in the Utah House before moving up to the Senate in 1982.
Rogers is a well-known senator who has been in the news off and on during the 1980s. He sponsored the controversial cable TV regulation act in the early 1980s. And he sponsored the act's repeal this past session after it was declared unconstitutional by the federal courts.
Bangerter and Matheson are two of the most conservative members of the Senate. With their departures, the arch-conservative voice in the body is dimmed. "I hope we can get someone as conservative as myself in the seat," Bangerter said.
Matheson was one of the most colorful speakers in the Senate. "I'm agin' it," is one of his favorite expressions.
All three senators said they are leaving public life to spend more time with their families. Bangerter and Rogers added that their growing businesses need their attention.
Rogers is seen as an inside power player. He was finance chairman of Gov. Norm Bangerter's 1984 election campaign and closely associated with the governor thereafter. As Senate Rules Committee chairman, Rogers was able to control the flow of legislation in the upper body.
After a run-in with Attorney General David Wilkinson several years ago, Rogers was investigated and cleared by a Senate ethics committee over charges by Wilkinson that Rogers inappropriately tried to influence Wilkinson's investigation of Utah Power & Light Co.
Recent complaints of conflicts of interest against Rogers aren't making him leave, he said. "I'm a fighter, and that kind of stuff just makes me want to stay, it eggs me on instead of diminishes my resolve. But I've given the state 10 years of good work. Now my family and business deserve my undivided attention."
Rogers is a business consultant specializing in community and government relations. One of his current clients is U.S. Pollution Control Inc., a hazardous waste disposal company interested in expanding its Utah operations. In the last session, Rogers was criticized for suggesting changes to a bill that would regulate hazardous waste operations, and thus affect his client.
Rogers said he doesn't know if he will return to Capitol Hill as a lobbyist next year. "It's not on my agenda, although it would be a natural offshoot of my business."
He said he feels good about his accomplishments, including among them leading the fight to create a separate State Health Department, welfare reform, a flat-rate Medicaid reimbursement program that saves the state millions of dollars and reorganizing how water board members are appointed. As chairman of the Economic Development Committee, Rogers said he helped double the department's budget and create the Centers of Excellence and federal procurement board.
Bangerter said he's proud of writing the first joint operation law for ports of entry. Under his direction, the first such agreement on the Utah-Arizona border is successfully operating.
Bangerter is president of J.C. Bangerter & Sons, a Bountiful trucking company. He's been active in transportation and motor fuels legislation. "I also got the right to die law passed. That allows terminal patients to die with dignity if they and their families wish it. And I started driver license renewal by mail, so you don't have to go in person," he said.