Politics & Issues | KUER 90.1

Politics & Issues

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

The state Legislature’s Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee voted Friday to recommend using roughly $37 million from the Medicaid rainy day fund to offset proposed cuts to social services. Those cuts include reducing payments to foster families and money for domestic violence shelters.

Photo of small chairs on a small table in a classroom
blanscape via iStock

State and local leaders are working towards issuing guidelines for how Utah’s K-12 public school districts and charters can reopen in the fall. 

Photo of a machine and workers laying asphalt on a road
peuceta via iStock

The Utah Department of Transportation’s budget could shrink by up to $1.5 million next year due to falling tax revenues resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo of a chain link fence
Steve Gehrke of the Utah Department of Corrections

A legislative subcommittee approved plans Wednesday to cut up to nearly $45 million in funding for Utah’s courts and Department of Corrections. 

Illustration of a student at a table with a backpack gathering dust.
Renee Bright / KUER

Audri Robbinson is worried about her kids. Like many parents, she became a second teacher to them after state leaders announced in-person classes would be temporarily suspended in March. But it's been an ongoing challenge to keep Vincent, 4th grade, and Viauna, 2nd grade, engaged outside the classroom. 

Photo of Tsosie standing next to posters of her classmates.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONUMENT VALLEY — It’s a bright and blustery day at Monument Valley High School, and the graduation decorations in the courtyard keep blowing away.

Photo of two men sitting in grey armchairs.
Screenshot via Facebook

All four Republican candidates for governor participated in a forum hosted by the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Utah Thursday. 

Photo of the woman speaking during a video conference
City of Midvale

State and local governments have moved public meetings online in order to help slow the spread of coronavirus. They’ve had to figure out how to balance security and public access

Photo of Lauren McCluskey
Courtesy University of Utah

In October 2018, University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey’s ex-boyfriend shot and killed her on campus. Before she was killed, McCluskey went to university police to report that someone was trying to extort her over intimate photos.

Photo of county health department road sign.
iStock.com / sshepard

After a failed attempt to limit local governments’ authority over stay at home orders during April’s special session, Utah lawmakers plan to try again. 

Photo of oil pump.
iStock.com / DennyThurstonPhotography

State lawmakers met Wednesday to review an audit on how Utah’s Community Impact Board, or CIB, has been using funds. 

Photo of capitol facade.
Brian Albers / KUER

Utah lawmakers met Wednesday to discuss plans to cut up to $1.3 billion out of the state’s budget for the next fiscal year.

Photo of ballot envelope.
Renee Bright / KUER

The June 30 primary election will be conducted entirely by mail under a new state law. Seven counties will give their residents the option to pick up a ballot in their car on election day if they don’t get one in the mail. 

Photo of houses in Salt Lake City.
Brian Albers / KUER

Utah’s eviction moratorium for those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic ends May 15, after which landlords can begin serving notices to tenants who haven’t paid April or May rent. 

Photo of a man in a suit standing behind a wooden podium
Sonja Hutson / KUER

The four Republican candidates for governor shared their plans — and criticized current approaches — to help Utah’s economy recover from the downturn spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. The candidates laid out their views Thursday, during a forum hosted by the Salt Lake Chamber and EDCUtah. 

Illustration of a blue donkey wearing a red elephant mask.
Renee Bright / KUER

25-year-old Jess Esplin is an unaffiliated voter who describes herself as “progressive” and usually votes for Democrats. But she has a plan as she sits down at her computer.

Photo of a woman wearing a mask walking through a gated fence to meet waiting family members.
Andrew Becker / KUER

Pedro Viera had one thing on his mind: getting to Las Vegas. And he needed the judge to know it.

Photo of a man in a tan suit in front of a banner reading "Envision Utah" and photo of a man wearing a blue suit in front of a banner reading "Cox Governor"
Screengrab from the virtual debate

Utah’s population is expected to nearly double over the next four decades, according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. 

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

If Republican candidate for governor Jan Garbett collected at least 19,040 signatures — instead of the usually required 28,000 — by April 13, she would qualify for the GOP primary ballot under a federal court ruling announced Monday evening. 

Illustration of a video classroom.
Toltemara / iStock.com

Teaching can be a hard job. Add in a global pandemic and statewide campus closures, and it becomes even harder. Now, with those closures extended at least through the end of the academic year, teachers like Amelia Landay have a long road ahead. 

Photo of a man in a blue suit in front of two flags
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Updated 12:24 a.m. 4/26/20

 

The Utah Republican Party hosted a virtual state convention Saturday to pick their nominees for the June primary. People running for office also had a chance to qualify for the ballot by collecting signatures. Candidates pre-recorded their speeches and the party posted them to its website earlier this week. Delegates voted using an app called Voatz, or called in their votes if they had technical problems. Roughly 93% of delegates voted, according to Utah GOP Chair Derek Brown. 

Online Democratic Party Convention
Emily Means/ KUER

Of the Utah Democratic party’s 2,203 delegates, 85% voted in the state’s convention Saturday afternoon. Utah Democratic Party Chair Jeff Merchant said that’s their highest involvement in modern history.  

Bob Nelson

Utah’s Republican and Democratic parties are holding virtual state conventions this weekend, where delegates will decide which candidates each party puts on the primary ballots in June. 

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

The Utah Legislature voted to appropriate more than $1 billion in federal money Thursday toward the state’s coronavirus response. 

Screenshot from a virtual press conference
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Utah’s Coronavirus Community Task Force has a new subcommittee focused on addressing the needs of minority communities in Utah. 

Screenshot of Kirk Cullimore speaking during the Utah Legislature's virtual meeting
Emily Means / KUER

The Utah Legislature passed a bill during Thursday’s special session that protects businesses and people from civil lawsuits, if someone thinks they caught COVID-19 from a person or business. 

Photo of a woman with blonde hair wearing white headphones
Courtesy of Marci Green Campbell

Running for political office, especially when trying to win over state and county delegates, involves a lot of in-person interaction. But during the coronavirus pandemic, campaigning has gone virtual and the Republican and Democratic parties didn’t hold caucus meetings to elect new delegates. 

On Monday, domestic oil prices dropped more than 200 percent, settling at -$14.05 by day's end; the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil price benchmark momentarily hit -$40.32. This marks the first time oil prices have ever dropped into the negatives.

Photo of a laptop computer screen showing a video conference call
Courtesy of Candice Pierucci

Normally, the sound of chimes in the Capitol calls representatives to the House chamber to debate and vote on bills. Now, it brings them to their computers. 

Photo illustration showing a piggy bank and dollar bills
401(K) 2012 via Creative Commons

This week, Utahns began receiving stimulus checks from the federal government. To get some expert advice on how people can best use that money, KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Amanda Christensen, a financial counselor and editor of the Utah Money Moms blog

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Caroline Ballard: How good are people, generally, at managing their money?

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