1993 - goodbye to another political year. But this past year was relatively mild, certainly nothing like 1992, which arguably was the most active campaign season since statehood.

We've watched a number of "freshmen" officeholders shape their futures these past 12 months. Gov. Mike Leavitt, Attorney General Jan Graham, U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett and U.S. Rep. Karen Shepherd all had a successful time.We saw citizens of two counties - Salt Lake and Iron - turn thumbs down on increasing their sales tax to help the arts.

And we also saw in the November elections a large number - by some accounts, a record number - of city mayors and council members retire, either voluntarily or through voters kicking them out.

Through court decisions, two large issues seem to have been taken off the table. The U.S. Supreme Court, a year ago, basically upheld a woman's right to an abortion but this year clarified that right by allowing states to require parental consent for minors seeking abortions. Lawmakers may fine-tune Utah's abortion law to accommodate that possibility, but no other great changes are planned.

The Utah Supreme Court - in what many saw as a welcome, but surprising, decision - ruled that local government agencies can have public prayer before their meetings. That appears to negate the need to change the state Constitution's separation of church and state clause to allow the practice.

The federal retiree issue came to a head this year, both in the courts and in the political process. While the case is still before the Utah Supreme Court upon rehearing, it appears Leavitt's offer to retirees to settle the matter will fail. What the courts ultimately decide is still before us, but unless there is some kind of reversal, federal retirees who paid state income taxes on their pensions from 1985 to 1988 will get back taxes with 12 percent interest (costing the state $63 million). Leavitt offered them back taxes with 6 percent interest (which would have cost $50 million).

In the same October special session that saw Leavitt put forward his retiree offer, lawmakers and the governor passed a number of new laws aimed at helping fight youth gang violence. Those efforts were compounded by several city and county governments adopting new, tougher handgun control laws.

Next year will feature another round of county, state and federal elections. Leavitt and other state officers aren't up for election - their terms end in 1996 - but all of the 75-member Utah House and half of the 29-member Senate are up for election. After November's legislative elections, there may well be leadership changes.

Rumor has it that Senate President Arnold Christensen, who has held the top Senate post for 10 years, the longest tenure in state history, will not seek another two-year term as president. He hasn't said yet whether he'll run for another four-year term to the Senate or retire. House Speaker Rob Bishop hasn't announced his future, either, but it would be a break with tradition for him to run for a second two-year term. In recent history only one man, former Gov. Norm Bangerter, has served more than one term as speaker.

On the county level, Salt Lake County Commissioners Randy Horiuchi and Jim Bradley, Democrats both, will seek re-election. Their GOP opposition is yet unclear.

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Of course, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will seek a fourth six-year term in 1994. Democrat Grethe Peterson has already announced she'll run against him. Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, is still making up his mind whether he'll run against Hatch, seek re-election or retire from politics.

Shepherd will run for her House seat. A freshman, Shepherd made a name for herself her first year in D.C. - a name her old GOP nemesis Enid Greene Waldholtz hopes will lead to her success and Shepherd's downfall.

Finally, Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, will try to win more consecutive terms to the U.S. House than any other Utah representative. His Democratic opposition is also up in the air right now.

So, a relatively mild political year is gone, a more active one on the horizon. Will Hatch win 24 years in the U.S. Senate? Will Shepherd overcome the political odds in her district and win re-election? Will the Salt Lake County Commission remain in Democratic hands? We'll watch the outcomes together.

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