Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser stepping down from Legislature at year’s end

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser not only won’t run again for his leadership position but he won’t be in the Legislature at all.

The Sandy Republican previously announced he wouldn’t run for another term as president but as recently as last week said he intended to seek re-election to the Senate.

But Niederhauser said Wednesday he started to question that decision as the 2018 Legislature adjourned late last Thursday.

“For the last few days, I have carefully evaluated the pros and cons of seeking another term in office. The pros outnumbered the cons almost 3 to 1,” He said.

“While on paper the decision seemed obvious, an inner voice said, ‘This is the very reason you shouldn’t run for office again,'” he said. “This message may seem confusing, but to me the meaning is clear: When you begin to think you are even a little indispensable, it is time to step away.”

The Legislature is now losing its two most powerful leaders.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, announced before the 2018 legislative session that he wouldn’t seek re-election to his House seat.

Niederhauser, 58, was elected to the Senate in 2006, representing Sandy, Alta and Cottonwood Heights. He has served as Senate president since 2012. His current term ends this year.

“It is time for a new face with fresh energy and ideas,” Niederhauser said, adding that representing his district and serving as Senate president has been one of the great experiences of his life. He said it changed him as a person and enhanced his character and abilities.

Niederhauser, a CPA and real estate broker, brought an easygoing style to legislative leadership. He expressed gratitude to his colleagues for “taking a chance on me — a bean-counting budget wonk.”

This session, he pushed a bill to expand Utah’s ability to develop toll roads — including in the Cottonwood canyons — as way to raise money for transportation to offset the state general fund from subsidizing highway maintenance.

Niederhauser also thanked voters for their support, and business colleagues and his wife, Melissa, for their patience during long legislative sessions and hours away from work and home.

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