SALT LAKE CITY — House Speaker Brad Wilson left office, praising the part-time Utah State Legislature for their work to advance important policy issues for the people of the state.

"I've had the chance to have my fingerprints on some things we're really proud of," he told reporters in a news conference on Wednesday.

Speaker Wilson pointed to tax cuts, the Point of the Mountain and Inland Port development projects, higher education reforms and significant shifts in water policy.

It was Speaker Wilson's efforts to save the Great Salt Lake that earned him a unique parting gift. The Utah Department of Natural Resources named an air boat it will use on the lake after him. He broke a bottle over "Wilson's Water Warrior" to christen it. As he and fellow lawmakers sipped sparkling cider (alcohol isn't allowed on the Utah State Capitol grounds nor does Speaker Wilson imbibe), he thanked them for the honor.

Speaking on water policy in his news conference, Speaker Wilson said he was proud of the accomplishments with bills and a billion in spending focused on water conservation measures. He personally pushed bills designed to reverse the Great Salt Lake's historic declines.

But he warned that the decisions elected lawmakers have to make would only get tougher.

"I think we're two to three years in on a 10-year journey of focused effort on water policy. In some ways, the low-hanging fruit has been picked and it’s going to get harder," he said. "But we all know that water is one of those issues that will never go away and we’ve got to change the way we think about it. The good news that I feel really matters the most is the high degree of commitment, across the aisle, across the Capitol, in both chambers around water."

Asked if he believed the Great Salt Lake could still be saved, Speaker Wilson replied: "Absolutely."

Speaker Wilson is leaving the Utah State Legislature to campaign for the open U.S. Senate seat being left by retiring Sen. Mitt Romney.

Fox 13 Reporter
Ben Winslow is FOX 13's reporter on Capitol Hill covering a wide variety of topics including politics, polygamy, vice and courts. He has been in the news business in Utah for more than 20 years now, working in radio, newspaper, television and digital news. Winslow has received numerous honors for his reporting, including a national Edward R. Murrow award; the Religion Newswriters Association Local TV News Report of the Year; the Utah Broadcaster's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Readers of Salt Lake City Weekly and Q Salt Lake have named him their "Best TV news reporter" for many years now. He co-hosts "Utah Booze News: An Alcohol Policy Podcast," covering the state's often confusing and quirky liquor laws. Winslow is also known for his very active Twitter account keeping Utahns up-to-date on important news.

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