Politics & Issues | KUER 90.1

Politics & Issues

Photo of police officers and men in camouflage outfitted with riot gear. There are tan military vehicles and a police cruiser in the background.
Kelsie Moore / KUER

Some Utah state lawmakers are questioning whether suggestions to restrict when law enforcement can use deadly force could put those officers in more danger. 

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan bill being hailed as the biggest public lands and conservation legislation in a generation.

Photo of students in masks taking a test.
arrowsmith2 / iStock.com

Utah has long struggled with large class sizes, which can be difficult for teachers to manage and students to stay engaged. But during the coronavirus pandemic, where keeping people apart remains the primary method of preventing the disease from spreading, schools face even greater challenges ensuring students and teachers can stay safely distanced.

Photo of U.S. Capitol under blue sky.
Nicole Nixon / KUER

After failing to get additional funding for special education in Utah earlier this year, a state lawmaker is trying again. 

Photo of a room with a bed
Jon Reed / KUER

Utah’s juvenile justice system has come a long way since 2016, when a state analysis found it was locking up most minors for low-level offenses and keeping them in detention for too long.

Photo of a hand holding a white envelope with instructions on how to return a mail-in ballot.
Renee Bright / KUER

Several members of Utah’s Congressional delegation along with Gov. Gary Herbert, have spoken out against President Donald Trump’s call to delay the November election. 

Photo overlooking houses

Almost 60% of Iron County residents have completed the U.S. Census, but according to census tract data, less than a quarter of residents in the eastern parts of the county have done it.

Illustration of a hand putting a ballot in a mailbox.
Renee Bright / KUER

Black conservatives in Utah say there’s more than one way to fight for racial justice. While the liberal demand to defund the police has become a rallying cry in many recent protests in Salt Lake City and around the nation, they’re taking a different tact. 

Photo of houses from the view of a street in Salt Lake City
Emily Means / KUER

Utah’s housing advocates are gearing up for a rise in evictions with the end of two federal pandemic assistance programs last week. 

Updated at 6:35 p.m. ET

Are Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple "emperors of the online economy" that stifle competition and hurt consumers? Not surprisingly, the tech giants' chief executives told Congress: absolutely not. The concern that too much power is concentrated in too few companies is unfounded, they said Wednesday.

Photo of two grey portable bathrooms surrounded by a chain link fence in a parking lot. Smith's Ballpark is across the street in the background.
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Two portable restrooms opened Monday for people experiencing homelessness across the street from Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City. 

Updated at 4:06 p.m. ET

Attorney General William Barr puts the founding principles of the Justice Department "more at risk than at any time in modern history," the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee charged on Tuesday.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., excoriated Barr because he said the attorney general sought conflict with Americans at an unprecedented scale, including via federal law enforcement crackdowns, and has created what Nadler called a special reserve of justice for the well-connected.

Illustration of a jail hallway.
Renee Bright / KUER

Meagan Deadrich was 27 weeks pregnant when she was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on a probation violation in 2018. Soon after, she started bleeding and knew something was very wrong.

President Trump took to the White House briefing room on Tuesday to praise his administration's response to the virus that has killed more than 140,000 Americans so far. In a reversal of his recent statements and tone, he acknowledged the severity of the pandemic and urged Americans to comply with preventative measures.

"It will likely unfortunately get worse before it gets better," Trump said in uncharacteristically somber remarks, encouraging Americans to social distance, practice good hygiene and wear masks.

Police vehicle with emergency lights flashing at night.
Brian Albers / KUER

Utah state Rep. Carl Albrecht, R-Richfield, is pursuing a resolution honoring law enforcement and first responders. 

A man in a black shirt and a white mask speaks to a group of people with signs including one that read  “Police = Violence.”
Brian Albers / KUER

Demonstrations for police reform continued Saturday night in Salt Lake City, as more than 100 people gathered at the Capitol waving banners displaying “Black LIves Matter” and “White Silence = Violence.”

KUER file

In his decade in office, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill estimates he has reviewed nearly 100 uses of deadly force by police officers. In his most recent review, he cleared the officers who shot and killed Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal on May 23. Gill has ruled only a few of the killings unjustified though.

San Juan County school board meeting.
Kate Groetzinger/ KUER News

School will likely look very different in the northern and southern regions of San Juan County this fall, given a stark split in parental preferences. 

The San Juan School District surveyed parents to come up with a reopening plan, which was approved by the school board on Thursday. Around 60% of parents in the southern region of the county said they prefer online learning, while over 70% in the north said they want school to resume in-person. 

Following Utah’s June 30 primary, Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams, the incumbent for the state’s 4th Congressional District, has more than 28 times the cash in his campaign coffers compared to his Republican challenger, former NFL Player Burgess Owens. 

Photo of a person wearing a face mask waiting to cross the street
Brian Albers / KUER

Utah’s Democratic candidate for governor Chris Peterson added his voice to a growing number of Democrats in the state calling for a statewide mask mandate to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Photo of ballot envelope.
Renee Bright / KUER

Utah state Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, plans to sponsor a bill that would prohibit organizations, like political campaigns, from turning in voters’ ballots for them. 

Updated at 7:50 p.m. ET

President Trump spoke in the White House Rose Garden on a broad range of topics on Tuesday, pitching himself as the stronger competitor over rival Joe Biden to manage the deadly coronavirus pandemic and steer the U.S. economy to prosperity.

His remarks come amid mounting concerns raised by public health officials about his administration's aggressive pitch to return the United States to normalcy, including pushing guidance for schools to reopen for in-person classes this fall.

via Riverton City Website

The Midvale City Council recently stalled on a decision to pull out of the Unified Police Department. And on July 1, Taylorsville voted to leave UPD to form its own, more community-based law enforcement agency.

Photo of Republican ballot.
Caroline Ballard / KUER

In the two months leading up to the June Republican primary election, more than 73,000 Utahns registered with the Utah GOP. 

Some Democrats and left-leaning unaffiliated voters temporarily switched their affiliations to participate, since only registered Republicans could vote in the primary. 

a trail on Photo of a hillside overlooking downtown Salt Lake City
Michlaovic / Public Domain

Congressman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has temporarily blocked passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which would guarantee full annual funding for a popular conservation program Bishop has taken issue with in the past.

Renee Bright / KUER

Updated 5:54 p.m. MDT 7/8/2020

Utahns voted in an influential primary election June 30. There is an open seat for Governor for the first time since 2004, and four Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination. Utah’s incumbent Attorney General Sean Reyes is being challenged by another Republican. The 1st Congressional District is an open seat for the first time since 2002, andRepublicans and Democrats are facing off in their own primaries for the chance to compete for the seat in November. 

Rufus and Marsha Ellington
Kate Groetzinger/ KUER News

Warning: this report includes offensive language.

Updated 12:18 p.m. 7/8/20

Residents of Price and nearby Helper have revived calls for the Price City police chief to step down, due to concerns that he is racially biased. Calls for his resignation first came in 2017, after Brandon Sicilia, then a sergeant, posted derogatory comments about Black and Muslim people on Facebook, and again in 2019, when he was promoted to police chief. 

Headshots of each candidate cropped into one image
University of Utah website and Spencer Cox campaign

Utah Republicans have selected Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox as their nominee for Utah governor. Cox will now face Democrat and University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson in the general election.

Photo of an American flag waving in front of a red rock cliff
WeMcLaughlins via iStock

Independence Day is often seen as a day to commemorate the founding of the country, to reflect on American values and celebrate freedom. But as protests against racial injustices and police brutality continue in Utah and across the country, some are marking the holiday by focusing instead on the progress they hope to see. 

Photo of a mailbox covered with "i voted" stickers
BackyardProduction via iStock

County clerks in Utah are still counting ballots from Tuesday’s primary election.