Merrill (Merrill) F. Nelson (R-SH68)
Email - Web Site

Capitol: 801.538.1029
FAX: 801.326.1544
District: 801.971.2172
Suite 350 State Capitol 350 North State Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84114

District Office:
164 South 800 East
Grantsville, UT 84029
Elected: 2012    Next Election: 2022
Spouse: Karen Olpin   DOB: 7/16/1955
Committee Assignments
ChairmanHouse Committee on Health and Human Services
ChairmanJoint Interim Committee on Health and Human Services
MemberHouse Committee on Transportation
MemberJoint Interim Committee on Transportation
MemberJoint Legislative Committee on Redistricting
MemberSubcommittee on Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations
Counties Representing
Beaver / Juab / Millard / Tooele / Utah


Personal Married to Karen Olpin 36 years; 5 children; 12 grandchildren.

I grew up on a small farm in Grantsville, Tooele County, where I learned the values of hard work, self-reliance, church and community service, and respect for law and good government. Karen and I chose to rear our five children here because we love the rural lifestyle, with small towns and schools where children are not anonymous and may learn shared values. I graduated from BYU in Agricultural Economics and went on to graduate from the BYU Law School. I clerked a year on the Utah Supreme Court and went to work at Kirton McConkie, now the largest law firm in the state. For the past 30+ years, I have practiced constitutional law, representing school districts, hospitals, religious entities, and individuals in protecting their rights and resolving their legal disputes.

Qualifications Background- Growing up in a large family, I learned the values of independence and hard work. As a youth, I had daily chores of milking the cow and feeding the animals, in addition to responsibility for irrigation and hauling hay. I also had a daily paper route for several years. I was active in school, sports, and church activities. I served a church mission and worked my way through college as a salt plant and construction laborer. We have tried to rear our family with these same rural values, serving in school, church and community activities, and maintaining a small farm on the side.

Professional Experience- Constitutional/appellate lawyer at Kirton McConkie; 30+ years experience in legal issues involving religious and other nonprofit entities, education, healthcare, government, property, insurance, adoption, child protection, and risk management. Lead attorney on Church legal help line, advising clergy, social workers, and educators on a wide variety of legal issues.

Served three years on the Guardian ad litem Oversight Committee appointed by Utah Judicial Council; acting chairman. Member of American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. Served on Utah Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Appellate Procedure. Author and presenter on constitutional issues; chapter author, "Confronting Pornography." Clerked on Utah Supreme Court. Editor of BYU Law Review.

Legislative Experience Served in Utah House 1991-92- Vice-chairman of Judiciary Committee; passed life-without-parole sentencing option for convicted killers; extended UTA bus service to Tooele County; supported balanced budgets and protection of individual rights.

Served in Utah House 2013-Present- Vice-chair of House Judiciary Committee; Government Operations Committee; Executive Offices, Courts and Corrections Appropriations Committee; past service on Natural Resources and Public Utilities Committees. Legislation to improve local government budgeting process, to allow judicial review of peace officer discipline, to provide rural representation on UTA Board of Directors, to allocate hazardous waste regulatory fees, to deter theft of lead batteries from farm and construction vehicles, to increase penalty for poaching livestock, to strengthen local industries such as IPP and ATI Metals, and to protect children from sexual predators. Procured funding for Topaz and Wendover Airfield Museums and for J. Reuben Clark Farm. Served on House Special Committee on Marriage Litigation and Legislation; published op-ed providing legal basis for laws favoring traditional marriage; helped draft legislative briefs to Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court supporting traditional marriage. Appointed as Utah delegate to Assembly of State Legislatures and Convention of State Legislators to consider rules and proposals for an Article V Amendment Convention to limit powers of the federal government and restore sovereignty to state governments.

Legislative Priorities- Protect individual freedoms, particularly freedom of religion, property and water rights, and right to bear arms; strengthen and defend education; protect families and children; strengthen state sovereignty against federal encroachments; support free enterprise to foster economic growth; improve transportation and health care in rural Utah; and improve the redistricting and electoral process to ensure fair representation of rural Utah.

Other Education- BYU Law School (Editor of Law Review); BS in Agricultural Economics at BYU; Grantsville High School.

Public Service- High school community council; youth baseball coach; BSA scout master and committee member; LDS bishop; Project Guatemala Agricultural Program; Spanish LDS mission.