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After 20 years in the legislature, Rep. Patrice Arent to retire

Posted at 10:20 AM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 13:58:57-05

SALT LAKE CITY — One of Utah’s longest-serving lawmakers is retiring.

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, announced that she will retire at the end of 2020.

“I’ve had a wonderful career in the legislature and I’ve been able to work on a lot of great things. But this will be my 20th session and I’ve also spent another decade in public service beyond that so after three decades it’s time to move on and see what other opportunities are available,” she said in an interview Thursday with FOX 13.

Rep. Arent has been treated for multiple myeloma, but said she is not retiring because of her health condition. She said she is undergoing immunotherapies that still allow her to “work 15-hour days” and continue to ski.

Rep. Arent was first elected to the legislature in 1996 and has served in both the House and Senate.

Speaking to FOX 13, Rep. Arent said she looks back on her long career with pride at creating the bipartisan Clean Air Caucus on Capitol Hill that has championed air quality legislation. She also said her Newborn Safe Haven law that allows people to safely drop off an infant at a hospital — no questions asked — has saved lives and prevented babies from being abandoned.

She has also pushed for bills making it easier for people to vote, and ensured Utah joined other states on Super Tuesday for the presidential primary. This year, she said, she intends to push for her bills to eliminate straight-party voting, air quality, gestational agreements and an update to the safe haven law.

“I’ve got a full slate,” she said.

Utah is the only western state that still has straight-party voting and her bill died in the Senate on the last night of the 2019 session.

“I’m hoping this is the year,” she said.

Rep. Arent has, at times, been the only Jewish member of the legislature. During her last campaign, an opponent sent out a mailer that suggested she didn’t support freedom of religion. It prompted Republican Governor Gary Herbert to back her by issuing a statement of support for the Democratic representative (and her opponent apologized).

“It’s important for people to see that everyone up here isn’t the same,” she told FOX 13 on Thursday. “Also, to be a woman up here, is an important thing. But I bring a different perspective just like people do with their backgrounds. I think it’s important we reflect our society.”

Rep. Arent said in retirement she plans to “ski more, travel more, and I’m hoping to have some opportunities to help our state.”