Senate passes bill to name law enforcement scholarship after retired Sen.  Karen Mayne

Senate passes bill to name law enforcement scholarship after retired Sen. Karen Mayne

Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, hugs former Sen. Karen Mayne after a bill that created a scholarship for law enforcement officers passed at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. The scholarship is named after Mayne, who retired earlier this year. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A potential scholarship for law enforcement officers was renamed in honor of longtime Democratic state Sen. Karen Mayne, who retired last month for health reasons.

Mayne, D-West Valley City — who previously served as Senate minority leader and minority whip — retired before the start of this year’s legislative session, nearly a year after she announced she had been diagnosed with cancer. She had served in the Legislature for 15 years.

On Friday, the Senate gave initial approval to SB128, which creates a public safety officer scholarship program for high school graduates who are enrolled in a law enforcement agency cadet program and seek a degree of higher education.

Under a recent change to the bill, the Republican-controlled Senate opted to name the scholarship the “Karen Mayne Public Safety Officer Scholarship Program.

Former Sen.  Karen Mayne embraces Sen.  Don Ipson, R-St.  George, in the Senate after a bill that created a scholarship for law enforcement officers passed at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday.  The scholarship is named after Mayne, who retired earlier this year.
Former Sen. Karen Mayne embraces Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, in the Senate after a bill that created a scholarship for law enforcement officers passed at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday. The scholarship is named after Mayne, who retired earlier this year. (Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Mayne returned to the Senate floor Friday and sat in a wheelchair next to bill sponsor Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, during an emotional hearing on the bill. Ipson said the bill was the “brainchild” of Mayne — she passed the work on to Ipson when she retired.

“I was lucky enough to be the guy who got to present it,” Ipson said.

He explained that the bill provides scholarships for prospective law enforcement officers who are under the age of 21 and can’t officially join law enforcement. It would help cover tuition for university law enforcement programs or a Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST, certification.

“As you all know, Sen. Mayne has always been one to promote things for the worker, blue-collar guy, and this does exactly that,” Ipson said.

Before voting on the bill, several senators shared personal thoughts with Mayne, and the chamber gave Mayne three rounds of applause throughout the discussion and voting.

“It’s an honor to have her with us today,” Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, said. “This is really really sweet.”

“Sen. Mayne has empowered Utahns across the state through her legislation, wisdom and courage,” Escamilla said in a statement. “Naming the scholarship to the Karen Mayne Public Safety Officer Scholarship Program is a fitting tribute to a woman who has fought for law enforcement on Capitol Hill throughout her career as a legislator.”

Former Sen.  Karen Mayne receives a standing ovation in the Senate after a bill that creates a scholarship for law enforcement officers passed at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday.  The scholarship is named after Mayne, who retired earlier this year.
Former Sen. Karen Mayne receives a standing ovation in the Senate after a bill that creates a scholarship for law enforcement officers passed at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday. The scholarship is named after Mayne, who retired earlier this year. (Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, held back tears several times while introducing the bill, and shared a hug with Mayne after its passage.

“One of my best friends in the Senate is Sen. Karen Mayne,” he said. “We may not share ideas … we may not have political philosophies in the same way, but I hope that we have the same goal of trying to be civil, kind and have great friendships.”

“It’s been one of the greatest honors of my life to get to know her and get to work with her,” said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross.

“I miss you,” said Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City. “… She always had words of wisdom for me, and even today as I spoke with her, she said, ‘You’re not going to make any stupid mistakes now that I’m gone, are you?'”

After SB128 passed, Mayne stood for several photos, and addressed her former colleagues.

“Thank you all so much,” Mayne said. “I miss you all. Do a good job, take care of this good state we all love.”

“I’m still funnier than Sen. Weiler,” she added.

SB128 passed unanimously, but needs to clear a final vote in the Senate before being sent to the House.

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Bridger Beal-Cvetko covers Utah politics, Salt Lake County communities and breaking news for KSL.com. He is a graduate of Utah Valley University.

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