Julia Ritchey | KUER 90.1

Julia Ritchey

Senior Editor

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her three regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she continues to preach the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. 

iStock.com / bernardbobo

Utah drivers could soon be able to throw their wallets out the window under a new law permitting digital driver’s licenses.

Austen Diamond for KUER

Utah lawmakers often pride themselves as a deliberative, decision-making body, spending just 45 days each year to pass legislation, but new research may suggest otherwise.

File photo / KUER

Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law a controversial ban on abortions performed after 18 weeks of pregnancy on Monday, joining a handful of red states pushing a host of new abortion restrictions that are likely to be challenged in federal court.

Image of courthouse.
Julia Ritchey / KUER

The Utah Supreme Court is considering whether to overturn the state Legislature’s replacement for voter-approved Proposition 2 that expanded patient access to medical marijuana.

istock

Utah’s top elected officials are taking to social media to share their reactions to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation concluding that neither President Trump nor his campaign associates conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential campaign.

Brian Albers / KUER

For a third year in a row, efforts to fund the state’s affordable housing dearth once again fell short during the 2019 legislative session, as lawmakers struggle to tackle a 40,000-unit shortage.

Photo of Mayor.
Julia Ritchey / KUER

Updated 4:56 p.m. MDT 3/18/19

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski says a family situation led her to withdraw her bid for a second term, an abrupt reversal that leaves the mayoral race wide-open.

Renee Bright/KUER

The 63rd session of the Utah Legislature concluded last night — a little early in fact — drawing to a close about an hour before midnight. Lawmakers outdid themselves this year, passing a record 573 bills. Not to mention balancing a record-setting budget of $19 billion, with bigger investments in air quality, school counselors and retirement benefits for public safety workers. Republican leaders set out with an ambitious agenda to tackle tax reform, which fizzled out. But they did a bunch of other stuff: hate crimes, a beer bill, criminal justice reform and a controversial overhaul of voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

Photo of Herbert.
Paul Edwards

Utah lawmakers wrapped up their annual 45-day legislative session last night. Before the gavel fell, KUER’s political team Nicole Nixon and Julia Ritchey talked with Gov. Gary Herbert for his take on the session … Successes, setbacks, and more.

Cory Dinter for KUER

The Utah Legislature wrapped up its 45-day general session an hour early — just after 11 p.m. on Thursday — in a session defined by big fights over Medicaid expansion, tax reform and the direction of state government in a period of explosive population and economic growth.

Brian Albers / KUER

Updated 2:20 p.m. MT 3/14/19

Utah lawmakers on Thursday quietly axed a proposed $1.5 million in funding for a center honoring retired U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch after mounting public criticism.

Mitt Romney at microphone in KUER studios.
Kelsie Moore / KUER

Sen. Mitt Romney voted resolution disapproving of President Donald Trump’s National Emergency Declaration, joining Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who also broke with the president.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher hugs Troy Williams
Courtesy Ben Winslow of Fox 13

The Utah Legislature has passed a significant overhaul to the state’s hate crimes statute, a measure Gov. Gary Herbert said he was eager to sign and would provide a “powerful tool” for protecting vulnerable communities.

House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams
Nicole Nixon / KUER

Following days of closed-door meetings, top House and Senate leaders reached a tentative deal on Tuesday that would fund the state’s $19 billion budget.

Woman speaks at an outdoor podium as three men stand behind her.
Julia Ritchey / KUER

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski has mounted a legal challenge to the state’s new inland port, accusing state leaders of usurping the city’s taxing and land use authority.

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Utahns lost an hour of sleep over the weekend with Daylight Saving Time, a twice yearly disruptive change of the clocks that at least one state lawmaker has proposed putting an end to — eventually.

Renee Bright/KUER

This week three major bills — tax reform, conversion therapy, and 4.8 percent beer — were killed in some form or another. We talk with Katie McKellar from the Deseret News about lawmakers’ efforts to address homelessness and affordable housing, and we’ve noticed a new buzzword popping up in Utah politics recently.

 

Bills & Issues Mentioned in this Episode:

Photo of speaker wilson.
Nicole Nixon / KUER

Gov. Gary Herbert and top Republican leaders announced Thursday they will not pursue tax reform this session, an about-face coming just hours after the bill’s chief sponsor expressed confidence about its chances.

Renee Bright / KUER

From ominous speeches to political message bills, the specter of socialism is haunting the Utah Legislature this session.

Tenna Hartman
Julia Ritchey / KUER

House lawmakers will determine the fate of a sweeping tax reform package scheduled for debate today.

SCOTUS
KUER File Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear an appeal from the Utah Republican Party over the state’s five-year-old election law, S.B. 54, allowing a candidate multiple pathways to the primary ballot.

House Revenue and Taxation Committee
Julia Ritchey / KUER

A parade of critics from a cross section of Utah industries swarmed a House committee hearing on Friday to object to a Republican plan that would add new taxes for a raft of services.

Renee Bright/KUER

We know we’re nearing the end of the session when two major bills with big implications drop as the clock winds down. One is the widely anticipated tax reform package and the other bill proposes some significant changes to the inland port created just last year. We sit down with Rep. Robert Spendlove to dive into the new tax bill and find out what things Utahns might soon have to start paying taxes on. Plus, we examine the mixed signals lawmakers are sending about traffic safety.

Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost
Cory Dinter / Ku

Gummy bear, cotton candy, bubblegum, butterscotch, funnel cake. The ever expanding menu of e-cigarette flavors are clearly targeted at children, says Democratic Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost.

Rep. Brad Daw
Cory Dinter / KUER

After the success of three citizen-led ballot initiatives — legalizing medical marijuana, expanding Medicaid and creating a redistricting commission — and the resulting pushback by the Legislature, lawmakers are now proposing a host of changes to the way initiatives get on the ballot.

Photo of money costume in UT Senate.
Utah Senate

With little more than two weeks left in the legislative session, Republican lawmakers released a massive sales tax reform package late Wednesday that would expand state revenue sources while lowering the overall sales and income tax rate.

Cory Dinter for KUER

With the Utah Legislature now half over, bills are starting to pick up steam headed into the final stretch. Meanwhile, lawmakers are preparing to debut a large tax reform package that could deliver an even larger tax cut to Utahns — among a host of other changes.

Rep. Angela Romero
Austen Diamond

A bill to raise the legal age of marriage in Utah from 16 to 18 is making its way to the full House after a committee gave its initial support on Monday.

Photo of Carol Moss.
Julia Ritchey / KUER

When Janice Perry Gully learned that her mentally ill stepson had killed his father during a hunting trip in 2004, she immediately forgave him.

Renee Bright / KUER

We’re more than halfway through the legislative session and bills are chuggin’ along. In this week’s episode, we update you on the status of various bills dealing with social issues including hate crimes, abortion, guns and LGBTQ protections. We grab (nonalcoholic) drinks with the beer lobby to talk about their push for heavier brews in grocery stores. And we ask: Why do people care about flags so much?

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