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Salt Lake Lawmaker Rebecca Chavez-Houck To Retire Next Year

Utah Democrats

Longtime Democratic state lawmaker Rebecca Chavez-Houck will not be running for re-election next year.

Rep. Chavez-Houck said she had hoped to share her plans for retirement later this year, but confirmed the news in an email Monday after it appeared on the website Utah Policy.

She said she looks forward to a productive final year.

The Salt Lake Democrat was first elected to the state legislature in 2007, representing House District 24, which covers most of downtown — from the Rio Grande district to Temple Square to the Avenues.

Chavez-Houck was well-known for advancing progressive legislation focused on access to health care and election reform.

In the last session alone, she proposed bills on ranked-choice voting, same-day registration and a redistricting.

Although her bills didn’t always get very far in the GOP-controlled legislature, House Minority Leader Brian King said Chavez-Houck knew how to start conversations.

“I think she felt like many of us in the caucus feel, that just having an individual in the legislature to give voice to policies that substantial numbers of people want to have discussed, want to have presented and raised, is in and of itself a very critical function,” he said. 

King said that included more difficult issues like the death with dignity bill she’d pushed for over the last few sessions to give terminally ill patients access to life-ending drugs. He called her retirement a huge loss for their caucus.

"She's so smart and she's such a good human being and she's so hard-working, and yet she also makes it clear where she stands putting first and foremost — at all times — the policies that we're dealing with," he said.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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