2019 Utah Legislature | KUER 90.1

2019 Utah Legislature

Photo of cases of beer on store shelves.
Elaine Clark / KUER

From the inland port to ballot initiatives to beer, KUER’s reporters have been following 2019’s biggest stories. Political reporter Nicole Nixon and education reporter Rocio Hernandez joined Caroline Ballard to discuss the issues they’ve been following.

Photo of Coalville, Utah.
Wikimedia Commons

Coalville and West Valley City are the latest Utah communities to commit to transitioning to 100% net-renewable energy use by 2030. There are now 20 local governments participating in the statewide effort.

Photo of Gov. Gary Herbert
File photo / KUER

Despite a referendum moving ahead against a large and controversial tax reform bill passed last week, Gov. Gary Herbert announced he signed the measure Thursday morning.

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

After nearly a year of debate, Utah lawmakers have passed a sweeping tax reform bill that cuts taxes by $160.5 million. 

Photo of the Utah state capitol building.
Austen Diamond / KUER

Utah lawmakers are expected to take up tax reform in a special session Thursday after a state task force approved legislation late last night aimed at cutting taxes by $160 million.

Photo of the Utah state capitol building.
Austen Diamond / KUER

Lawmakers will have an extra $682 million to spend next year, and legislative leaders say that’s a good reason to double a tax cut they’ve proposed as part of a sweeping tax reform bill.

Photo of men dressed as Santa Claus and the Grinch inside Utah's Capitol building.
Nicole Nixon / KUER

In a show of holiday bipartisanship, Santa Claus and the Grinch came together Friday with a message to Utah lawmakers: Don’t hold a special session on tax reform.

Photo of an evidence bag.
Renee Bright / KUER

After Utah lawmakers approved a bill in 2017 that gave more money to the state’s crime lab to process sexual assault kits, the head of that lab estimated it could clear the backlog of untested kits in 2018. Now, the Department of Public Safety said it will take until July 2020 to get caught up.

Photo inside the Utah State Capitol.
Austen Diamond / KUER

A tax cut for Utahns is a key ingredient to lawmakers’ plan to rewrite the state tax code. But under tax reform plans currently being considered, about one in five Utahns — mostly those without children — would pay more in taxes.

Stock photo of an oil pump jack in eastern Utah.
iStock

Utah democratic lawmakers are “dismayed” by the advancement of a bill giving tax breaks to the oil and gas industry. 

Photo of the Utah state capitol building.
Brian Albers / KUER

Editor’s note: During impeachment inquiry hearings, KUER is offering news roundups from around the state and audio of those stories as a resource for our audience.

Photo of Steve Eliason
Cory Dinter / For KUER

When Ginger Phillips was experiencing severe symptoms of her schizoaffective disorder, she used to end up in the emergency room a lot.

Photo of the Utah state capitol building.
Brian Albers / KUER

Draft legislation to regulate government use of facial recognition software was unveiled and subsequently abandoned Wednesday after some lawmakers worried it did not do enough to protect privacy.

Photo of capitol.
Brian Albers / KUER

A majority of the record 574 bills passed by the Utah Legislature this year went into effect Tuesday at midnight.

House Speaker Brad Wilson.
Cory Dinter for KUER

Gov. Gary Herbert only vetoed one bill during the recent legislative session, but Utah lawmakers are mulling a special session to overrule that veto.

Photo of wind turbine.
iStock.com / David Crane

Some Utah cities may soon have a chance to cut down on carbon emissions, but consumer advocates are worried about rising costs and other unanswered questions about the program.

Photo of hate crimes bill signing.
Utah Senate

A years-long effort to add teeth to Utah’s hate crimes law culminated in a signing ceremony by Gov. Gary Herbert Tuesday.

Photo of a man behind steering wheel holding out a smartphone.
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.

Photo of Dave Newlin.
Nicole Nixon / KUER

Police oversight advocates are calling on Gov. Gary Herbert to veto a bill that would limit powers of citizen review boards.

Photo of medicaid form.
iStock.com / jwblinn

Enrollment for Utah’s long-awaited Medicaid expansion starts in less than two weeks. State officials are optimistic that things will go smoothly but they’re still waiting for approval of their plan from the federal government.

Photo of new home construction.
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.

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.

Photo of Ray Ward.
Cory Dinter for KUER

The journey to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk has been long and difficult for Rep. Ray Ward’s student and school safety assessment bill.

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.

Photo of Amelia Damarjian
Courtesy Amelia Damarjian

When 19-year-old Amelia Damarjian saw that Utah Gov. Gary Herbert had backed amendments to a proposed conversion therapy ban bill, she was furious.

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