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BISHOP LEAVING LOTS OF MEMORIES BEHIND AS HE NEARS THE END OF A 21-YEAR ASSOCIATION WITH UTAH’S HOUSE

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Rob Bishop proposed to his wife in the Utah House chambers. He served in the chambers as a University of Utah intern. Now he's retiring from serving 16 years in the House, the past two as speaker.

"These chambers hold a lot of emotion for me," he said. "It's hard to leave. My life has been tied to these chambers for 21 years."Bishop has always had a hankering for politics. He doesn't know what it will feel like to be away from it. "You may see me up here next year. But I don't know now what I'll be doing."

Bishop is a longtime high school teacher. But he figures he'll try a change of career after he leaves office at the end of 1994. Maybe he'll end up a lobbyist, maybe an employee of the state or maybe something else.

"You have to learn your limits of power up here, and there are limits. But the great thing about serving in the Legislature is that you can change some things for the better. You really can. Maybe that is what I'll miss the most - finding a problem, finding a solution and convincing others (in the House and Senate or executive branch) to adopt the solution."

Why do so many politicians refuse to quit voluntarily and are finally voted out of or die in office?

"You never finish anything completely. There's always more to do. Already this year - after my retirement announcement - I'm seeing things that I want to do next year. And I won't be here to do them. I see solutions to things. Now others must carry on."

What is he proud of?

The state retirement system was "completely revamped" under Bishop's watchful eye. Always a baseball fan ("as a kid I dreamed of catching for the New York Yankees"), Bishop helped persuade the state to kick in more than $1 million to build Franklin Quest Field so Triple-A baseball could return to Utah.

Maybe it's not something some would brag about, but Bishop is glad he "lightened up the House."

He made goony jokes from the speaker's chair. He had sweater days so the representatives wouldn't wear suits all the time. He even had a crazy shirt day last session - and some of the ugliest shirts imaginable were worn on the House floor.

"I hope the legislators and staff members had some good times the last two years (when he was speaker). I know I had a lot of fun. And I tried not to take too many things too seriously.

"This can be a pretty heady place, with people calling you `representative' and having the title `the honorable' before your name. It's best not to let that go to your head, and I tried to keep it from doing that for me and others."