Sonja Hutson | KUER 90.1

Sonja Hutson


Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER. She’s been reporting on politics ever since the 10th grade, when she went to so many school board meetings the district set up a press table for her. Before coming to Utah, Sonja spent four years at KQED in San Francisco where she covered everything from wildfires to the tech industry. When she’s not working, you can find her skiing, camping, or deeply invested in a 1000 piece puzzle.

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Photo of the Utah state capitol building and a branch of cherry blossoms
Roddy Nikpour / KUER

The Utah Legislature plans to call itself into special session late this week to potentially make changes to local stay at home orders, expand vote by mail, make budget adjustments and appropriate federal aid to fight coronavirus. 

Photo of gary herbert wearing a mask
Francisco Kjolseth / The Salt Lake Tribune

People traveling to Utah will be asked to fill out an online form and answer questions about their possible exposure to the coronavirus under an order announced Wednesday by Gov. Gary Herbert. 

Photo of large assembly room with rows of desks with people.
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Chris Wilson owns a car dealership in Logan and has never run for elected office before. Now, he’s looking to unseat the sponsor of a controversial tax reform bill passed during a special session in December. State lawmakers eventually repealed it, but only after a referendum to overturn the law gained enough signatures to get on the ballot. 

Renee Bright / KUER

Accidental cross talk on video calls has become common for many Utahns now working at home. But things can get a whole lot more complicated when politicians and governmental bodies hold public meetings virtually. 

Photo of a man standing behind a podium speaking
Screengrab from video via Facebook Live

A state partnership with a group of tech companies will get Utah close to its goal of 7,000 coronavirus tests per day in the next couple of weeks, Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday. 

Phot of young girls in front of shelves of canned goods.
Courtesy Emily Cottam.

When coronavirus hit Utah, people started panic buying — stocking up on food, supplies and lots of toilet paper. Empty shelves have become a defining image of the pandemic. 

But for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stockpiling food and supplies is nothing new. Some are even using their food storage to help others in this moment of crisis. 

Photo of gary herbert speaking from behind a podium
Screengrab from video via Facebook Live

Utah plans to issue a Major Disaster Declaration Wednesday due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Photo of Gov. Gary Herbert
File photo / KUER

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed 125 bills into law Monday, including a bill to to spend more than $16 million in state money to expand mental healthcare and one banning the prosecution of minors in certain instances. 

Herbert has now signed 459 of the 510 bills passed in the 2020 legislative session.

Man in a suit and red tie stands at podium with the Utah state seal.
Pool Photo

Gov. Gary Herbert signed 151 bills Saturday, including a $10 million affordable housing bill, a bill essentially decriminalizing polygamy and a controversial bill to ban elective abortions should Roe v. Wade be overturned. 

Screengrab from a video of Erin Mendenhall talking to the camera
Screengrab from video via Twitter

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued a stay at home order Friday evening, with exceptions for essential travel like grocery shopping, seeking medical care, and outdoor recreation. 

Screengrab from a live video showing Gary Herbert holding up a piece of paper
Screengrab from video posted on the Salt Lake Chamber Facebook page

Utah’s economy has been suffering as the state responds to the coronavirus pandemic. An economic plan released by the state Tuesday said as people stay inside to prevent the spread of the virus, there have been severe impacts to small businesses, and hourly workers are seeing significant layoffs.

Photo of a sign in a restaurant window explaining that dine-in operations are suspended.
Renee Bright / KUER

California and New York have both ordered people to shelter in place or stay at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Photo of the Utah State Department of Health building.
Andrea Smardon / KUER

A Davis County man has died after testing positive for COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health announced Sunday. 

Department officials said he was at least 60-years-old and had underlying medical conditions. He had been hospitalized for two days before he died and tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. 

Photo of the Salt Lake City and County building
Brian Albers / KUER

Salt Lake County plans to modify its public health order that limits gatherings to 10 people in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Congressman Ben McAdams
Kelsie Moore / KUER

Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, has coronavirus, according to an announcement made Wednesday night.

Photo of Salt Lake City skyline at night
Brian Albers / KUER

The Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday tentatively approved a 0% interest loan program for small businesses affected by the coronavirus. It came on the same day as federal loans from the Small Business Administration became available. 

Man wearing a black t-shirt walking across a residential street carrying a clipboard
Courtesy of Todd Weiler

Videos of a man wearing a “Huntsman 2020” shirt appearing to go door-to-door collecting signatures surfaced Tuesday night, but former Gov. Jon Huntsman’s gubernatorial campaign said it had suspended door-to-door activities. 

Photo of the entrance of a new shelter.
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

People experiencing homelessness are at an increased risk for complications from coronavirus because their underlying medical conditions often go untreated. 

Photo of a woman in a blue dress standing behind a podium with microphones
Sonja Hutson / KUER

As people start to stay inside to slow the spread of coronavirus, Salt Lake City businesses have begun to feel it. In fact, 76% of Salt Lake City businesses have lost more than a tenth of their revenue due to the outbreak, according to a survey from the city. That impact is likely to grow after a Salt Lake County order banning dining in at restaurants goes into effect at 11 p.m. Monday. 

Photo of the Utah state capitol building at night
Brian Albers / KUER

Utah's legislative session wrapped up Thursday night. Lawmakers passed a $20 billion budget and 510 bills over the past 45 days. 

Photo of the Utah Capitol building at night
Brian Albers / KUER

The Utah Legislature wrapped up its 2020 legislative session Thursday night — defined by big changes to education funding, debates over abortion bills and polygamy, a global pandemic and a tight general fund that left many bills unfunded. 

Photo of a legislative chamber, with people sitting at rows of wooden desks.
Sonja Hutson / KUER

A bill banning all elective abortions, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, passed the Utah Legislature Thursday after the House of Representatives approved it 51-21.

Photo of a white sign with a drawing of a handshake with a red line through it.
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Updated 4:12 p.m. MST 3/12/2020

When Rep. Melissa Ballard, R-North Salt Lake City, started working on a bill to expand telehealth services last year, she was focused on making it easier for people to get treatment for things like eye infections and rashes. 

Photo of a building with the 'Bail Bonds' painted on the windows
KUER File Photo

A bill aimed at easing Utah’s reliance on its cash bail system passed the state Legislature Wednesday.

Utahns seeking abortions would have to undergo an ultrasound while the person performing that ultrasound describes the fetal images, under a bill passed by the state Senate Tuesday. 

Photo of Utah Senate floor from above.
Austen Diamond for KUER

Often when someone seeks help for a mental health crisis, they’re taken in an ambulance to an emergency room. Mental health advocates, like Ginger Phillips, said that experience can be traumatic and make the crisis worse. 

Photo of a person holding an e-cigarette and exhaling vapor.
Lindsay Fox / Pixabay

A bill aimed at cracking down on teen vaping in Utah died in a committee hearing Monday. 

Photo of the Utah State Seal.
Cory Dinter for KUER

Courts around the country have handed down big wins for anti-abortion laws the past several years. Many conservative states, including Utah, have used those cases to pursue similar laws. This year, three major abortion bills are working their way through the Utah legislature, all based on recent court decisions or an anticipated court decisions. 

Photo of Sen. Jake Anderegg.
Cory Dinter for KUER

More information about what goes on in Utah’s jails and prison could become public information, if the state legislature passes a series of transparency bills. 

Photo of flags at the Utah State Capitol building
Cory Dinter / KUER

The state Legislature’s draft budget includes big wins for education and mental health programs, as well as money to increase state employee salaries.