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Davis Journal

Former legislator undergoes emergency surgery

Jan 03, 2022 09:17AM ● By Becky Ginos

Former Rep. Paul Ray (left) listens to Sen. Scott Sandall at a press conference about redistricting. Ray and Sandall served as co-chairs of the Legislative Redistricting Committee. Photo by Becky Ginos

SALT LAKE CITY—Former Rep. Paul Ray, a long-time member of the House of Representatives, underwent emergency surgery last weekend after suffering a bleeding issue in his brain. Ray was in the hospital recovering as of Wednesday.

“Our prayers are with former Rep. Paul Ray and his family at this time,” said House Speaker Brad Wilson in a statement. “He is a good friend and honorably served our state for two decades. We wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

“If anyone I know can set a record for the fastest post-surgery healing time, it’s former Rep. Paul Ray,” Senate President J. Stuart Adams said. “My prayers for a full speedy recovery are with him.”

Ray recently resigned from the legislature to take a new position with the Department of Human Services. Before leaving office he co-chaired the Legislative Redistricting Committee, traveling the state to receive public input and considering proposed maps by the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission. After months of work and a great deal of push back, the Committee submitted the final maps to the legislature in November for approval.

Ray was elected 20 years ago to represent District 13. He said he became a legislator because of his desire to serve. “I grew up in extreme poverty. My father couldn’t read or write and my mother only had an eighth grade education. I was the first person to graduate from high school and the first one on either side to go to college.”

As a freshman legislator he asked to be on the Health and Human Services Committee. “They were surprised because no one usually requested that,” he said. “I’ve been on it the entire time. I’ve enjoyed it.”

During his service on that committee, Ray has pushed hard to put the tobacco industry out of business. “The reason I have had a heart condition is because my mother smoked two packs a day while she was pregnant with me,” he said. “I had open heart surgery when I was 10, 14 and 16 years old.”

In addition to Health and Human Services, Ray has also served on the Law Enforcement Criminal Justice Committee all 20 years he’s been in the legislature. He was instrumental in passing the “move over” law and getting death benefits for the families of officers killed in the line of duty.