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10 Stories To Watch In 2020

Illustration of 2020 shaped glasses with a podium and ballot reflected in the lenses.
Renee Bright / KUER
Voters are heading to the polls this year where they will cast ballots for presidential and gubernatorial races.

Impeachment. A pivotal presidential election. The 2020 Census. Tax reform. And … The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Along with the perennial topics of growth, environment and healthcare, those are a few of the stories — big and small — we’ll be following this year. Here are 10 other stories to watch for 2020.

Utah Votes

The White House

In the 2016 election, then-candidate Donald Trump had the worst performance with Utah voters of any Republican presidential candidate in more than two decades. But since taking the White House, the president has delivered on a number of core conservative issues. Whether that’s enough to capture Utah’s vote will have its first test in March, when the state holds a Super Tuesday primary. — Nicole Nixon

Congress

Utah Congressional District 4 is a swing district that voted for Trump in 2016, but elected Democratic challenger Ben McAdams in 2018. McAdams has a big lead in campaign contributions and name recognition over his Republican challengers. But the race could get competitive if Mia Love, the Republican incumbent McAdams booted, looks to take back her seat. — Sonja Hutson

Governor’s Race

For the first time in more than a decade, the state’s highest office doesn’t have an incumbent running. The Republican field is already crowded, which will make for an interesting primary in June, especially if three or more GOP candidates are on the primary ballot. — Nicole Nixon

Illustration of 2020 shaped glasses with apples and dollar signs reflected in the lenses.
Credit Renee Bright / KUER
Gov. Gary Herbert made increasing teacher pay one of his legislative priorities for 2020, but it remains to be seen what lawmakers will do on the issue.

Managing Growth, Education & Health

Education 

Utah faces a major teacher shortage. Last year the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission approved a minimum teacher salary of $60,000 as one of its legislative priorities. But there are no clear signs lawmakers will take the issue up in the 2020 Legislative Session. — Rocio Hernandez

Mental Health 

Mental healthcare is severely lacking in Utah. But more attention has come to the issue recently, including a new mental healthcare facility in the works and increased funding for suicide research. This could be the year that Utah starts to make progress. — Jon Reed

Medical Marijuana

Utah’s medical cannabis system is set to begin March 1. The state has now issued licenses for 14 pharmacies and eight cultivators. Will the system be able to keep up with and adapt to patient needs? — Sonja Hutson

Photo of 2020 shaped glasses with Lake Powell reflected in the lenses.
Credit Renee Bright / KUER
The Lake Powell pipeline is top of mind for both critics and supporters as a potential 2021 decision date grows nearer.

Big Projects, Big Cases & Big Money

DACA Supreme Court Case

This year the U.S. Supreme Court will decide a program to shield an estimated 700,000 DACA recipients from deportation, including about 9,000 in Utah, according to the Center for American Progress. In September 2017, President Donald Trump moved to terminate the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. The ruling on the case is expected before the summer recess. — Rocio Hernandez

White Mesa Mill 

Uranium production at the lone operating uranium mill in San Juan County has been nearly negligible for years. The company that owns it, Energy Fuels, petitioned the Trump administration to revive the domestic uranium market. A decision on that could come any day, but in the meantime, the company — one of the largest private employers in San Juan County — recently laid off nearly one-third of its employees there. —  Kate Groetzinger, Southeast News Bureau

Lake Powell Pipeline

Utah has been talking about the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline for over a decade, and the state could see a decision on the controversial project as soon as January 2021. Its proponents argue that the pipeline is needed to create alternative water sources for fast-growing Southwest Utah. Its critics contend that the pipeline is short-sighted. The extent to which the bureau takes these factors into consideration and the public’s ability to weigh in are key questions to watch in 2020. — David Fuchs, Southwest News Bureau

Church Finances 

Following the explosive IRS whistleblower report that alleged the investment arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is misusing over $100 billion in reserves, there will likely be heightened scrutiny on how the LDS Church spends its money. Whether the IRS investigates the LDS Church or other whistleblowers step forward, that $100 billion number won’t be forgotten. — Lee Hale

Have other ideas on what we should be watching? Tips? We’d love to hear them. Drop us a line: news@kuer.org.

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