Sen. Okerlund’s health issues trigger leadership changes

February 16, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund is temporarily stepping down from his leadership role because he is being evaluated for possible heart and kidney transplants.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said in a news release Thursday that Sen. Kevin Van Tassell will become the Senate majority leader for the time being while Okerlund attends to his health. Okerlund will continue his regular duties as a legislator.

Okerlund is a Republican from the small central Utah town of Monroe. He has been a state legislator since 2009.

In 2014, Okerlund collapsed during a meeting at the Capitol and was rushed to a hospital. Officials said it was a “medical event” but didn’t elaborate.

Sen. Evan Vickers will take over Van Tassell’s role as the vice chair of the Executive Appropriations Committee.

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