2019 utah legislature | KUER 90.1

2019 utah legislature

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.

Photo of beer fridge.
iStock.com / TrongNguyen

A push to raise the limit on beer in grocery stores is back at the State Capitol after legislation hit some turbulence last week.

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.

Mayor Jackie Biskupski
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.

Nicole Nixon / KUER

State lawmakers voted against advancing legislation to address who is liable when a loaned firearm is used in a crime. The measure was motivated by the fatal shooting of a University of Utah student last fall.

Karianne Lisonbee
Austen Diamond / KUER

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A nationwide push to ban LGBTQ conversion therapy for minors looked like it could succeed in conservative Utah after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it wouldn't stand in the way, but the effort ground to a halt this week.

Austen Diamond for KUER

With less than a week left in the Utah legislative session, lawmakers are busy prioritizing and passing bills. So far, they’ve introduced 830 pieces of legislation and 267 have passed both chambers.

Here’s a look at some of Friday’s movement:

PASSED

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 Aaron Walker.
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

When Millcreek residents learned that their neighborhoods were being considered in a study commissioned by their city, they said Google helped them understand what that meant.

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.

Tenna Hartman
Julia Ritchey / KUER

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

Photo of Karianne Lisonbee.
Daysha Eaton / KUER

Updated 5:03 p.m. MST 3/6/19

In a press conference at the Capitol Wednesday, two key supporters of legislation that would have banned conversion therapy with minors in Utah resigned from the Governor’s Youth Suicide Task Force.

Photo of Arent.
Judy Fahys / KUER

Utah’s growing interest in environmental issues has translated into an explosion of environmental legislation and budget requests in the 2019 General Session.

Austen Diamond for KUER

Updated 3:30 p.m. MST 3/6/19

A bill to raise the alcohol limit of beer sold in grocery and convenience stores from 3.2 percent alcohol by weight to 4.8 percent met stiff resistance in a House committee Wednesday morning and was changed substantially before getting the green light.

Austen Diamond for KUER

Utah’s planned inland port potentially could reach to far corners of the state under a bill approved by a House committee Tuesday afternoon, despite criticisms from community advocates living near the center of the planned project.

Photo of capitol.
Cory Dinter for KUER

A bill to strengthen the state’s hate crimes law passed the full Senate on Tuesday and will next be considered by the House, a first for such legislation in recent years.

capitol building
Brian Albers / KUER

Utah legislators on the House Judiciary Committee questioned on Friday the scope of a bill that would ban a controversial form of psychotherapy.

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.

KUED

Utah could soon put new restrictions on abortion after the state Senate on Thursday sent the first of two bills to the governor’s desk for his signature.

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.

autism
Erik Neumann / KUER


Scooping out another large spoonful of raw dough, Jackson Dopp stood in the kitchen of his parents’ Layton home, making chocolate chip cookies on a recent Thursday afternoon. He had other ideas in mind besides the plan to deliver cookies to their neighbors.

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.

Austen Diamond for KUER

A new proposal at the Utah Legislature that would expand the powers of the state’s new Inland Port Authority Board is not sitting well with some Salt Lake City lawmakers, who worry it could encroach on the city’s authority.

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