Former Utah lawmaker hospitalized in 'very serious condition,' recovering after brain surgery

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, talks on the phone during the Utah Legislature’s 2021 general session at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on March 3. Ray was hospitalized in serious condition on Tuesday and underwent surgery for bleeding in his brain. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Utah lawmaker who helped spearhead the state's legislative redistricting effort and recently resigned to take on a new role as a state employee has been hospitalized in serious condition, according to the House speaker.

In an optimistic call to the Deseret News from his hospital bed, former Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said he is recovering.

House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, sent an email to House members Tuesday asking lawmakers to keep Ray "in your prayers."

"Paul went into the hospital over the weekend suffering from an intense headache and it was determined he was suffering from a bleeding issue in his brain that required an emergency surgery." Wilson wrote in the email, obtained Tuesday evening by the Deseret News. "He remains in a very serious condition."

Wilson, in a statement to the Deseret News, said "our prayers are with (Ray) and his family at this time."

"He is a good friend and honorably served our state for two decades. We wish him a full and speedy recovery," the speaker said.

Later Tuesday evening, Ray called the Deseret News from his hospital bed and said he was "actually feeling pretty good." He said he underwent a "brain bleed" surgery and is now recovering.

"They did a CT scan, (and) it looks like they stopped the bleeding and relieved the pressure," Ray said. "It's looking good."

Ray was in high enough spirits to crack a joke about the criticism he's received from opponents to the state's redistricting decisions, which he helped lead.

"This actually proves Better Boundaries wrong, I actually do have a brain," he joked.

Ray served 20 years in the Utah House of Representatives before he resigned earlier this month to take on a new role as the assistant director of legislative affairs for the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

Before his resignation, Ray played a crucial role in the state's contentious redistricting process last month. He chaired the Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee, which oversaw the passing of the Beehive State's newly reconfigured voting districts. The process brought hundreds of Utahns to the state Capitol to criticize the committee's proposed maps, urging them to instead adopt maps proposed by an independent redistricting commission.

Despite the outcry, the Republican-controlled panel approved the maps, and soon after the Legislature accepted them during a special session. The reconfigured districts will remain in place for the next 10 years.

Ray also sponsored the legislation nicknamed the pandemic "endgame" bill, which spelled out the end to the state's COVID-19 restrictions.

Katie McKellar


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