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PM News Brief: Expanding FrontRunner Rails, Utah County Mobile Voting & Nevada's Early Caucuses

Photo of a Frontrunner train.
Lyman Clark
Two Utah congressmen are pushing to make federal grant money available for UTA's FrontRunner for projects aiming to help with state growth.

Tuesday evening, Feb. 18, 2020


Senate Unanimously Passes Bill To Decriminalize Polygamy

A bill to effectively decriminalize polygamy for consenting adults unanimously passed the Utah Senate Tuesday. It would change consensual bigamy, which is rarely prosecuted in Utah, from a felony to an infraction — the equivalent of a traffic ticket. The bill also downgrades bigamy “under false pretenses” from a second degree to a third degree felony. If someone is found guilty of bigamy along with crimes like child abuse and human trafficking, the bigamy charge remains a second degree felony. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Family Planning Bill Moves To The Senate Floor

Tuesday morning, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed a bill that would expand family planning coverage to nearly 10,000 uninsured women in Utah. The bill aims to limit unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions in Utah through family planning, which includes increased access to birth control. It passed on a 4-1 decision and moves to the Senate floor for debate. — Grace Osusky


Curtis And McAdams Team Up On Utah Funding Bill

Utah Congressmen Ben McAdams and John Curtis are pushing a bipartisan proposal to make federal grant money available for Utah Transit Authorty’s FrontRunner. It would go towards adding a second set of tracks to portions of the commuter train service. Most of FrontRunner’s double tracking exists only at stations, and McAdams says adding more would provide transportation solutions to help with Utah’s growth. UTA could also be getting some state money to help with double tracking. Gov. Gary Herbert recommended $34 million for it in his budget proposal, which is still being considered by the state Legislature. — Sonja Hutson

Utah County Mobile Voting

The Utah County clerk's office has announced it expects to use a mobile voting application in elections this year despite concerns raised by cybersecurity researchers. The Daily Herald reported Monday that the Voatz app utilizes blockchain and facial recognition technology. It allows certain people — like overseas military personnel and residents with physical disabilities — to vote without having to submit a ballot by mail or in person. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say the application is vulnerable to attacks that could violate election integrity. — Associated Press


Susan Powell Family Lawsuit Underway In Washington State

A final chapter has begun in the saga of a Utah woman who vanished a decade ago and the killings of her young sons years later. A trial in a lawsuit against Washington state began Tuesday. Josh Powell was suspected in the 2009 disappearance of wife Susan Cox Powell when he killed his sons in 2012. Susan Powell's parents have sued Washington's Department of Social and Health Services, alleging negligence helped contribute to their grandsons' deaths. A caseworker had brought the children to their father's home for a supervised visit, but he locked her out and killed the boys and himself in an explosive fire. — Associated Press

Nevada’s Early Caucuses

The first wave of Democratic voters are casting their ballots in Nevada’s early caucuses. But this year, the process looks different. Nevada Democrats instituted a four-day early voting period for the first time this year to increase turnout. And, after issues with the app used in the Iowa Caucus, party officials in Nevada scrapped plans to use the same app. — Noah Glick Mountain West News Bureau

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