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Dougall announces his retirement from the House

By Billy Hesterman - Daily Herald - | Mar 9, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, announced that he will retire from the Legislature when his term expired on Thursday night.

Once the House adjourned for the final time for the 2012 session Dougall rose up to announce to the body that the time had come for him to move on to the next thing in his life.

“It has been a privilege to serve in my district, House district 27,” Dougall said. “I come from the perspective that I think lots of people can do this position. It isn’t just for one person.”

Dougall, who was elected in 2002, said he made the decision to retire from the Legislature during the 2011 session and that his family and House Speaker Becky Lockhart have been the only ones who have known about his plans since.

In an interview with the Herald Dougall said that he has had in mind that 10 years was long enough for him to serve and that he is proud of the work he has accomplished over his tenure.

“From a certain perspective, I’m coming off the best session ever,” Dougall said.

Dougall drafted more legislation than any other lawmaker this session and had many bills pass. He passed legislation dealing with tax credits for dependents with a disability, midterm vacancy appointments of local elected officials and motor vehicle safety inspections.

Dougall says his main theme for his tenure has been to be a defender of the taxpayer.

“I try to remind folks how we get taxes,” he said. “People don’t pay taxes because they want to. They pay because we threaten to take away their property and throw them in jail. … let’s not forget who pays the taxes. Let’s not forget how we get them, let’s minimize the burden on the taxpayer.”

In the spirit of that attitude, Dougall ran one bill this year that called for a $600 million cut to the budget in an effort to lower taxes. At the time he admitted the bill was a long shot but he felt the conversation on how to cut taxes should be had every year.

Lockhart, R-Provo, said Dougall will be missed.

“The taxpayers in the state of Utah owe John a huge debt,” Lockhart said in a released statement. “There hasn’t been a lawmaker more dedicated to demanding accountability and finding ways to keep the government spending in check.”

Dougall will likely be most remembered for being the chief sponsor of House Bill 477, the GRAMA bill that caused so much controversy in 2011 that the Legislature reconvened in a special session to repeal the law. Dougall said he felt the bill addressed some issues he thought needed to be dealt with in Utah’s open records law.

“I thought there were some issues that needed to be raised,” he said. “Some might have approached it a little bit differently, but I usually tackle things head on for better or for worse.”

Dougall said he plans to wake up on Friday and get back to his day job, but didn’t close the door on his political career; when asked if he was done with public office he said he didn’t think so but didn’t offer any more comment.

Dougall’s seat will now be an open seat in the upcoming election. Mike Kennedy and Sarah Nitta have announced they will run for the seat.


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