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PM News Brief: Doctors And Cannabis, Clean Air Legislation & Lyman Pushes Romney Censure

Photo illustration showing a marijuana leaf on top of a stethoscope.
A Utah-based medical marijuana advocacy group is warning medical providers of the risks of enrolling in the state's cannabis program.

Tuesday evening, Feb. 11, 2020


Managing Higher Education 

Two Utah lawmakers announced Monday that they are sponsoring a bill to bring the state’s public higher education institutions under one umbrella. Currently, the state’s public colleges, universities and technical colleges are governed by two separate entities: the Utah System of Higher Education and the Utah System of Technical Colleges. Republican Sen. Ann Millner and House Speaker Brad Wilson’s bill would create a new statewide leadership body: the Utah Board of Higher Education. The sponsors said the merger would allow students to transfer credits between the institutions more smoothly, reduce loan debt and increase graduation rates. — Rocio Hernandez

Doctors & Cannabis

A Utah-based medical marijuana advocacy group has penned an open letter to medical providers, warning them of the risks of enrolling in the state’s cannabis program. The group TRUCE, which has been central in the push for medical marijuana in Utah, said the way the state law is written would put doctors in direct violation of federal law. Among the changes they’re hoping to see is a shift from requiring doctors to “prescribe” medical cannabis to allowing them to “recommend” it, an action TRUCE says is protected by free speech. TRUCE founder Christine Stenquist also called on the U.S. Attorney for Utah to affirm he will not pursue sanctions against qualified medical providers who take part in the state's cannabis program. — Elaine Clark

Clean Air Legislation

Members of the Utah Legislature’s bipartisan Clean Air Caucus are sponsoring 18 bills this session. They run from a tax credit for heavy-duty vehicles using alternative fuels to an energy storage grant program. The caucus also has three appropriations requests this session, including one for $34 million to build a network of electric vehicle chargers. — Sonja Hutson

McAdams Falls In Polls

Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams’ approval rating fell in Utah’s 4th Congressional District since October. That’s according to a new poll from Utah Policy and Y2 Analytics. Adams’ approval rating among voters was 54% in October. In the wake of the Impeachment hearings that number has dropped to 43%. McAdams voted for both articles of impeachment. Support from “strong Republican” voters fell from 28 to 10%. — Grace Osusky


Lyman Continues To Push Romney Censure 

State Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, says he’s not backing down from his attempt to censure Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, through a joint resolution in the state House and Senate, despite pushback from legislative leaders and Gov. Gary Herbert. In an interview with KUER, Lyman said many Republican legislators agree with him but don’t want to take a public position on such a divisive issue. Still, the first-term lawmaker says it’s important to send the message that “We don’t want Sen. Romney to do this again.” The joint resolution is still in the drafting process and has not yet been introduced in the House. — Kate Groetzinger, Blanding


Department Of The Interior Budget Cuts 

President Trump unveiled his budget proposal Monday. It includes a 16% cut to the Department of the Interior which translates into a loss of nearly 1,000 jobs and more than half a billion dollars of funding for the National Park Service alone. It also significantly cuts funds for a bipartisan favorite under the Interior Department — the Land and Water Conservation Fund. That federal program puts royalties from oil and gas leases toward protecting forests, water and wildlife habitat. — Noah Glick, Mountain West News Bureau

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