Utah lawmakers are reportedly working with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and social rights groups to help pass a statewide law protecting gays and lesbians from housing and employment discrimination. Utah Governor Gary Herbert told reporters Tuesday he’s not involved in the discussions but will consider the bill.
After a year of studying winter ozone air pollution in Utah’s Uintah Basin, a team of scientists has determined that oil and gas wells are causing most of the problem.
The team at Utah State University’s Uintah Basin campus studied ozone last winter – when there were only a few inversion days and not much of a problem. It’s been worse this year, and Seth Lyman with the Bingham Research Center says a big part of the problem is the volatile organic compounds such as benzene coming from thousands of oil and gas wells.
Utah Republican Party leaders decided to table a discussion about a scandal affecting Attorney General John Swallow over the weekend. Swallow is being investigated by the US Attorney’s Office for allegedly helping business man Jeremy Johnson bribe US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Members of the GOP State Central Committee voted against holding a formal discussion on the issue, though some say it’s one of the most important issues facing the party.
The Utah Department of Health says that the privately contracted cost/benefit analysis of the optional Medicaid expansion is still not complete. The Social Services joint appropriations committee had planned to hear the report Tuesday morning.
Arguments over Utah’s immigration enforcement law were heard in US District Court Friday. It was the first hearing on the law in about a year. Judge Clark Waddoups was waiting to rule on the constitutionality of HB 497 until after the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on Arizona’s enforcement-only law.
Cecillia Wang is Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights Project, and a lawyer in the case against HB 497. Standing outside the US District Court in Salt Lake City after the hearing, Wang said the tide is turning in their favor.
The battle over access to fishing streams in Utah probably won’t be resolved in this legislative session, but that was welcome news to anglers who brought the issue to the state capitol on Friday.
About 400 people who had gathered on the capitol steps cheered the news that the sponsor of House Bill 68 will hold on to his bill for now. It would declare the state has met its obligations to keep streams open as a public trust.
Local government leaders call on the state legislature to act on cleaning up the air, nearly a dozen nonprofits working to end violence against women put on a dance show at the State Capitol, and a group of same-sex couples in Salt Lake use Valentine’s day to bring attention to marriage equality.
Some Utah couples marked Valentine’s Day with flowers, some even tied the knot, but some gay and lesbian couples in Salt Lake County chose the occasion to bring attention to the fact that they don’t have the right to marry. Same-sex couples submitted applications for marriage licenses Thursday, knowing that they would be turned away.
More than a dozen non-profit groups working to end violence against women and girls gathered at the state capitol this morning to bring focus to a harrowing United Nation's statistic; 1 in 3 women in the world will be raped or beaten in their lifetime. The gathering was part of the One Billion Rising anti-violence movement led by Eve Ensler, Author of the Vagina Monologues.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker joined Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell at the State capitol today in announcing their ideas on how government on both the local and state level can help improve air quality.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development announced new tax incentives for three companies on Thursday. One is doTerra, a company that makes essential oils – plant extracts that it sells through a network of independent distributors. It’s promised to bring 330 new jobs to its company headquarters in Pleasant Grove in product testing and development, customer support and other positions. For that, it will get 16-point-6 million dollars in tax credits over ten years.
Utahns are well-acquainted with the dirty air lurking beyond their front doors in a winter inversion or summer ozone day. A long string of unhealthy air days this winter has many residents saying "enough". Today KUER News and RadioWest begin “Clearing the Air,” a special series aimed at exploring the problem of Utah’s poor air quality and ways to improve it. One of the contributing factors is car emissions, but is public transit a viable option for those living on the Wasatch Front? Can people use their cars less without compromising their lifestyle?
A new report shows that Utah’s economy would benefit from an expansion of Medicaid, creating thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity.
The report comes from the national nonprofit organization Families USA and Utah Health Policy Project. UHPP Director Judi Hilman told KUER an expansion of Medicaid will allow millions of federal dollars to flow into Utah, stimulating the economy.
Accountants are urging the state to prepare for an economic crisis brought on by national debt. Conservative Utah lawmakers responded Tuesday by announcing legislation to assess the risks and develop contingency plans if federal funds disappear.
A Salt Lake City-based anti-bullying coalition called Flip the Script kicked off a long-term campaign to help reduce bullying. City Council Member Charlie Luke says it started last year when he got a call from a neighbor with a son who was being bullied and didn’t know what to do. He says the police, the parents and the school got involved to successfully stop Highland High School student JT Hiskey from being bullied.
Unified Police officers found three people dead this morning at a home in Midvale. Lieutenant Justin Hoyal says they’d been shot. One woman who survived was taken to a hospital in critical condition. Hoyal says they weren’t sure initially whether there was a danger to the neighborhood.
“Early on in this situation, before we had any information," Hoyal tells KUER, "we didn’t know if the suspect was out on foot in the area, we put our local schools on lockdown and we sent officers over there to help with security.”
After considerable debate Monday, the state House of Representatives approved legislation making it illegal for Utah drivers to smoke in their cars if they have a child as a passenger. The debate centered not around the effects of second hand smoke, but on the role of government in our lives.
The bill would make it a secondary offense to smoke while driving with someone under 16 years old. Democratic sponsor Patrice Arent argued that it’s lawmakers’ responsibility to protect children from harm.
Utah's Roman Catholic bishop, as well as some non-Catholic religious leaders, were stunned by today's announcement that Pope Benedict the 16th will resign at the end of February.
Bishop John Wester met Benedict the 16th on a couple of occasions during his eight-year papacy and said he was always impressed by Benedict's kindness. Wester says he was also impressed by the pope's commitment to speaking the truth and by the way he confronted the most difficult issues facing the church.
A group of Democratic legislators are introducing six new bills in an effort to help tackle Utah’s poor air quality.
The content of the proposed bills ranges from offering free passes for UTA Buses and TRAX trains to allowing the state to put in place stricter restrictions than the Environmental Protection Agency already requires. Representative Joel Briscoe is sponsoring the bill that would fund giving away free UTA passes. He says even with a tight budget this is something that should be attainable.
When Utahns file their state taxes this year, they can also donate to help the homeless. The Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund Tax Campaign was officially launched at Saint Vincent De Paul dining hall in Salt Lake City Friday.
“This project can have a huge impact,” said Pamela Atkinson, a long-time advocate for the homeless, “Every dollar that comes in, it means we can leverage that dollar and get private funds also, but it also means that we’re able to deliver these services for all of our homeless friends.”
Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz told members of the Utah Legislature to be prepared for an imminent cyber-attack during remarks made in both the House and Senate chambers Friday.
Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz says the future of economic development in Utah depends on the growth of high tech companies but with that comes the increased threat of cyber-attacks. He also stressed the importance of being prepared for such an attack telling legislators it’s not a matter if, but when.
A bill that would mandate insurance coverage of autism testing and treatment in Utah will advance to the floor of the state Senate. The Senate Business and Labor Committee approved the bill 5-2 Thursday, despite lawmakers concerns that the bill would not only cost taxpayer money, but would also drive up health insurance premiums.
Lawmakers, the state forester, local law enforcement and the Utah Farm Bureau Federation are trying to build support for two bills that deal with an intense wildfire season expected again this Summer. Both are sponsored by Republican Senator Margaret Dayton. Senate Bill 62 would expand the governor’s ability to authorize all water sources needed to fight fires while SB 120 would put time and place restrictions on target shooting. State Forester Dick Buehler says just a small fraction of the 1528 wildfires last year were started by target shooters.
Utahns crowd into Governor Herbert’s Capitol office demanding clean air, the LDS church weighs in on boy Scouts and gays, and local political and environmental leaders give their take on President Obama’s new Secretary of the Interior appointment.
Utah citizens and activists gathered on the steps of the Capitol Wednesday to demand action to clean up the state’s polluted air. The rally was part of a grassroots effort, including a Facebook campaign and petition.
University of Utah student Carl Ingwell started the Facebook campaign, urging people to inundate the Utah governor’s office with calls and e-mails, demanding action. His campaign led him to the steps of the Capitol, speaking to about 150 concerned citizens.
The Leonardo in Salt Lake City welcomes the Mummies of the World-The Exhibition complete with Hollywood-style motorcade and security detail as one of 8 tractor-trailers arrives. The unloading of the actual artifacts Wednesday is all in preparation for the upcoming opening of the exhibition. Heather Gill-Frerking (who prefers to be called Dr. Heather) says visitors will be surprised to learn that these mummies aren’t considered lifeless.