Nicole Nixon | KUER 90.1

Nicole Nixon

Reporter

Nicole Nixon holds a communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos. 

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Nicole Nixon / KUER

Thursday was the last day to file for candidacy in this year’s elections in Utah. Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney stopped by the State Capitol Thursday morning to file. Romney is hoping to nab the Senate seat currently held by Orrin Hatch, who’s retiring.

View of great salt lake from foothills.
iStock / TerryJ

Utah lawmakers want to create a commercial trading hub in Salt Lake City. They approved a bill late in the legislative session to oversee that and broader development of 20,000 acres in the city’s northwest quadrant. 

Julia Ritchey / KUER

The Utah Republican Party adopted a new rule last month that targets candidates who gather signatures to get on the primary ballot – and it only applies to two federal races. Now the Lt. Governor says he won’t allow the party to enforce the rule.

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That's a wrap! The Legislature passed 534 bills this session, just one bill shy of their record during the 2017 session, and left hundreds more behind. Here are the highlights, plus a conversation with Gov. Gary Herbert.

Austen Diamond / KUER

 

The 2018 Utah Legislature drew to a close on Thursday night, wrapping up their 45 day annual session with a $16.7 billion budget that increases funding for education, overhauls public transit and continues the fight against homelessness.

Austen Diamond / KUER

Utah lawmakers are using their last two days of the legislative session to finalize a $16.7 billion budget plan that includes $10 million to help tackle homelessness and $8.5 million to get the state's Winter Olympics facilities ready for another bid for the games.

Austen Diamond / KUER

The 2018 Utah legislative session ends Thursday night, and lawmakers are passing bills at a breakneck pace. More than 60 were passed on Tuesday alone. Here’s a look at some of them:

Austen Diamond / KUER

Sen. Diedre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, used to bring a calculator to the grocery store.

Austen Diamond / KUER

Utah lawmakers advanced a bill Monday giving the Lt. Governor authority to ignore the state GOP’s controversial rule change targeting candidates who gather signatures.

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Now, this is the story all about how Week 6 of the Legislature got flipped-turned upside down? Utah's beatboxing lawmakers are gearing up for their final spurt to the finish line with several big items still left on Republican leaders' to-do list. Notably, two proposals to add work requirements to Medicaid, the federal low-income health care program, are racing through the chambers as we speak. One lawmaker is also getting support for a last-minute bill to establish a "red flag" law to confiscate guns from people who pose a credible threat to public safety. The Legislature is also doing some Arnold Schwarzenegger-level flexing of power over a number of entities, including cities, the executive branch and — albeit unsuccessfully — the press. 

Screenshot / Youtube

Updated Fri., March 2, 3:50 p.m.:
Sen. Orrin Hatch is apologizing for an expletive-laden rant against supporters of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. 

Austen Diamond / KUER

There are six citizen-led initiatives making their way to the ballot this year, addressing everything from medical marijuana to election laws. But even if some of those pass, Utah lawmakers are looking at delaying their implementation.

Austen Diamond / KUER

Utah lawmakers may take legislative action after the Utah Republican Party passed a controversial bylaw over the weekend.

Austen Diamond / KUER

The Utah House passed a controversial bill this week that would allow colleges and universities to report sexual assaults to law enforcement, even if victims ask for confidentiality.

Nicole Nixon / KUER

U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney was at the Utah State Capitol Tuesday meeting with Republican lawmakers. While the meetings were held behind closed doors, Romney said he spoke with Republican lawmakers about  his campaign and challenges facing rural Utah.

Julia Ritchey / KUER

The Utah Republican Party passed a new bylaw that would target candidates who gather signatures to get on the primary ballot.

iStock

On Friday Utah lawmakers considered two very different bills dealing with plastic bags. They rejected one that would impose a fee on the bags, and approved another that would ban cities from imposing their own plastic bag bans.

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Nothing in this world is certain but death and taxes, and legislators are tackling both in Week 5 of the session. This week we talk with reporter Whittney Evans about some surprise backers of a new death penalty repeal effort. We also look at the state's big budget surplus and try to divine what lawmakers might do with all that extra scratch. The Utah Legislature's bluest member Sen. Jim Dabakis announces he's done after this session, joining several other incumbents on their way out the door, like Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, our featured guest on 'Better Know a Lawmaker.'

Nicole Nixon / KUER

Last year the Utah Legislature made bars and restaurants serving alcohol put signs up near the front door declaring which kind of liquor license the establishment holds.

Screenshot / Jim Dabakis Facebook

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, confessed to Senate colleagues that he was legally impaired while presenting a bill to delay implementation of the state’s strictest-in-the-nation DUI law.

Austen Diamond / KUER

The state will have more than half a billion dollars extra to spend this year. Lawmakers learned Wednesday afternoon that they’ll have a large budget surplus of more than $563 million.

Austen Diamond / KUER

Utah’s TV stations could lose some authority to impose non-compete agreements on their employees under a bill approved by lawmakers Wednesday.

Nicole Nixon / KUER

Suicide is now the leading cause of death for Utahns aged 10 to 17. After learning that 44 teenagers in Utah died by suicide last year, Gov. Gary Herbert formed a special task force last month.

Kelsie Moore / KUER

President Trump has endorsed Mitt Romney for Utah’s open Senate seat. Trump tweeted his support Monday night and called Romney a “worthy successor” to outgoing Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Nicole Nixon / KUER

Many Utahns were excited when Mitt Romney finally made his candidacy for the seat currently held by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch official. Ogden resident Paul Henstrom, who voted for Romney for president in 2012, hopes he can be a bridge in a deeply divided Congress. 

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This week lawmakers paused to honor the 17 lives lost in a school shooting in Parkland, Fla. But the latest school violence is unlikely to persuade Republican leaders to propose any big changes to gun laws this session. Meanwhile, a committee finally approved something close to a resolution acknowledging climate change without actually using the phrase "climate change." We also talk about some air quality bills and medical marijuana. Rep. Steve Eliason joins us on 'Better Know A Lawmaker' and explains how he's tackling Utah's youth suicide problem. 

Kelsie Moore / KUER

Mitt Romney launched his political comeback on Friday, announcing a widely anticipated run for Utah's Senate seat. 

Pool Photo / Salt Lake Tribune

Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday he’s working with Utah lawmakers on a bill that would ban abortions of a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome. Legislative attorneys have flagged the bill, saying if it passes, it would likely face a legal challenge.

Kelsie Moore / KUER

Mitt Romney is postponing a highly anticipated announcement for U.S. Senate after 17 people were killed in a school shooting in South Florida

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Every legislative session a few bills pop up that generate a lot of buzz, but never quite make it to the finish line. For the last few years, that has been the case with proposed legislation to toughen the state's penalties for hate crimes. So what invisible forces propel some bills while squashing others? Some critics say it's the Mormon Church, whose membership includes almost 90 percent of the Utah Legislature. Others say their influence is overstated. And then there's Steve Urquhart, a former Republican state senator from St. George, who observed this phenomenon firsthand.

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