Politics & Issues | KUER 90.1

Politics & Issues

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is leading the pack in the Democratic presidential primary race as he and six other candidates debate in South Carolina on Tuesday.

The South Carolina primary is on Saturday, with 54 delegates up for grabs. Currently, Sanders has the most delegates, with former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg in second, and former Vice President Joe Biden in third.

Photo of an oil pump.
Wikimedia Commons

When a state legislative audit in November said Utah’s Division of Oil, Gas and Mining has an “alarming” lack of oversight, outcry was intense, focusing on a finding that the division hadn’t pursued a fine for violations since 1995. 

Photo of three men and a woman sitting at a table smiling and signing papers
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

TEEC NOS POS, ARIZ. — A 2-year-old stalemate over who should maintain roads on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County ended Monday, with the signing of a new road maintenance agreement. But county officials say the arrangement doesn’t go far enough. 

Photo of a woman standing at a wooden podium, with posters filled by graphs on either side of her.
Jessica Lowell / KUER

When informed about current state abortion restrictions, 80% of residents said Utah does not need stricter abortion laws. That’s according to a recent survey performed on behalf of three advocacy organizations.

Photo of a sign that reads "historic downtown provo"
Wikimedia Commons

Provo city leaders narrowly voted last Tuesday to allow breweries in parts of the downtown area, sparking a broader debate over the changes residents want to see. And two days later, opponents of the decision filed a referendum to put the issue to voters. 

Photo of the slickrock bike trail
Wikimedia Commons

Moab and Grand County officials breathed a sigh of relief last week, when the Bureau of Land Management announced it will defer leasing land inside the Sand Flats Recreation Area to oil and gas developers in an upcoming lease sale. 

Photo of two golf carts
Courtesy of Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker via <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/29613480388">Flickr</a> / View <a href="https://foto.wuestenigel.com/park-golf-carts/?utm_source=29613480388&utm_campaign=FlickrDescription&utm_medium=link">original photo</a> and <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">Creative Commons license</a>.

We’re more than halfway through the Utah legislative session, and lots of bills have been making big headlines in the state. But with just 45 days, there are probably more than a few that you may have missed. KUER’s Caroline Ballard went to the state Capitol pressroom to catch up with political reporter Sonja Hutson.

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

A bill to almost entirely ban abortion in Utah was unveiled Friday afternoon. 

Picture of a man walking through an airport security screening station.

Updated 2:52 p.m. MDT 3/2/20

The Transportation Security Administration has quietly ordered a nationwide freeze on hiring and overtime for airport security screeners amid record-breaking numbers of airline passengers and the spring break travel season just weeks away, Homeland Security officials say.

Photo of three women and a man holding white signs with black lettering, reading “ “Prop 2,” “Prop 3,” “Tax Reform,” “Prop 4” and “We will remember to vote in November.”
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Updated 2:53 p.m. MT, 2/21/20

Voters narrowly approved Proposition 4, also known as Better Boundaries, in 2018. It would create an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative district lines, which would then have to be approved by the legislature. 

It’s no secret that Michael Bloomberg is spending a lot on his Democratic presidential campaign, from Super Bowl ads to social media influencers. But he’s also spending a lot of that money to hire staff in the Mountain West. 

Photo of a man in a suit sitting on a couch looking down at a piece of paper.
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Utah lawmakers have more than $900 million extra to spend this year, according to new estimates released by state leaders Thursday. 

Image of scouts uniform.
iStock.com / AmyKerk

In what’s been characterized by some as an attempt to shield itself from the roughly 300 active sexual abuse cases it’s currently facing, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday. 

Bernie Sanders standing at a podium on a stage surrounded by thousands of people.
Whittney Evans / KUER

When Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders visited Utah during his 2016 presidential campaign, he drew a crowd of thousands.

Photo of school bus.
MovieAboutYou / iStock.com

A Utah House committee is divided over whether to require restorative justice for minors who make threats against a school. 

Photo of a gray wolf.
U.S. National Park Service

A Utah Republican state lawmaker is pushing a resolution condemning its neighbor, Colorado, if voters there decide to pass a November ballot initiative to reintroduce gray wolves into the southern Rockies.

Photo of Deidre Henderson inside the Utah Capitol building
KUER file

Listen to the story here.

A bill to effectively decriminalize polygamy for consenting adults unanimously passed the Utah Senate Tuesday. 

Photo of a man and dog in a hemp field with mountains.
Matt Herp for KUER

On a recent cold and snowy day in Logan, Nathan Snow’s harvest was in full swing. He wore sunglasses to shield his eyes from rows and rows of bright lights growing hundreds and hundreds of bushy plants. This hemp “farm” is located inside a large, nondescript warehouse where the air smelled tropical and loamy. 

Photo of the inside of a tanning booth.
Wikimedia Commons

It’s the end of week three for the Utah Legislature, and lawmakers have been busy considering bills that touch on everything from corporate tax incentives to tanning beds to medical marijuana. KUER’s Sonja Hutson and Caroline Ballard spoke in the press room of the Utah State Capitol to cover all that and more in our weekly political roundup. 

Photo of woman standing in the middle of a room filled with people sitting behind tables in a horseshoe formation.
Courtesy of Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist / Utah House Democrats

Listen to this story here.

Utah Democratic lawmakers are condemning behavior during its Thursday caucus meeting, when a presenter gave the state’s lone African American lawmaker a name tag that said “slave” on it, while comparing polygamy to slavery.

Photo of two people looking out at a vista.
Bureau of Land Management

Listen to this story here.

After congressional Democrats voted this week to give one of their own the power to subpoena the Trump administration, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt dismissed the move as a “witch hunt.”

Photo of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel building
Jon Reed / KUER

Listen to this story here.

The attorneys who write bills that become Utah laws are always swamped during the legislative session. They work long hours and weekends, and often through the January and February holidays, including the upcoming President’s Day. 

Illustration of Alice Kasai
Brooke Smart, Illustrator / Courtesy of Better Days 2020

This week KUER is exploring the work of Utah women who have helped further the cause of equal rights. In our final conversation, Neylan McBaine, executive director of the nonprofit Better Days 2020, tells KUER’s Caroline Ballard the story of Alice Kasai, who fought for the rights of Japanese-Americans. 

An illustration of Alberta Henry.

This week, KUER is exploring the stories of Utah women who worked to further the cause of equal rights. The first woman cast a ballot in an election 150 years ago, but it took another half century, until 1920, to ratify the 19th amendment, which granted all women the right to vote. 

Photo of cannabis plants.

A bill introduced in the State Senate Wednesday is looking to clear criminal records for those who’ve been convicted of offenses related to marijuana possession. 

S.B.121, sponsored by Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, would expunge the records of those who’ve used marijuana medicinally, though would not apply to anyone caught dealing or selling it or those with felony charges. 

A yellow caution sign warns of an autonomous shuttle, which is in the background.
David Fuchs / KUER

ST. GEORGE — Washington County residents got a glimpse of the future on Tuesday, when Utah transportation officials kicked off three days of free test rides on an autonomous shuttle now touring the state.

Photo of the illustration of Emmeline B. Wells
Brooke Smart, illustrator / Courtesy of Better Days 2020

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the first time a woman cast a vote in the United States — right here in Utah. To commemorate the occasion, KUER is exploring how three Utah women worked to further the cause of equal rights. 

Photo of an amazon fulfillment center
Tony Webster via Flickr

Utah could help create an agreement that would prevent states from poaching companies from each other through tax incentives under a new bill in the state legislature. 

Photo of Michael Bloomberg
Wikimedia Commons

As Utah inches closer to its March 3 presidential primary, Democratic candidate and former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg is stepping up his already robust campaign in the state. 

Photo of Mitt Romney
Pool Photo

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, made history this week by voting to convict President Donald Trump, a member of his own party, on one of two articles of impeachment. He was the only member of the Republican party to vote to convict the president — and that decision is making waves throughout the state.