Politics

Politics
2:13 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Congressman Chris Stewart Tells Legislature to Expect More Congressional Push Back Against Obamacare

Congressman Chris Stewart addresses the Utah Senate
Brian Grimmett

Republican Congressman Chris Stewart gave a report on his efforts in Washington D.C. to members of the House and Senate today.

He told members of the Senate that he believes in the true idea of federalism, and advocated for a shift in power from his job in Washington to the Utah Legislature.

“I believe that we have enormous challenges and problems ahead of us, but most of those are best addressed at the state,” he said.

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Politics
5:18 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Utah House Passes 'Revenge Porn' Bill

Brian Grimmett/KUER file photo

Lawmakers in the Utah House passed a bill on Friday, making it a crime for a person to distribute intimate images of others with the intent to harm them. 

Cottonwood Heights Democrat Marie Poulson wants to penalize those who take images that may have been generated from consensual sexual activity, but are then used by one person to shame or emotionally destroy the other person. The practice is called revenge porn. While presenting her bill to Representatives on the House Floor, Poulson read a letter she received from a constituent.

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Politics
5:10 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Bill To Modify Caucus System Clears Hurdle in State Senate

A bill that would force political parties in Utah to change the current caucus and primary system cleared a hurdle in a Senate committee on Friday.  SB 54 would mandate that parties raise the threshold for office nominations to 65 percent of the delegate vote – up from 60 percent.  It would force parties to allow absentee voting at neighborhood caucus meetings and state party conventions.

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Politics
5:37 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Bill to Cut Internet Sales Tax Defeated

  The Utah House of Representatives rejected a plan Wednesday to stop the state from cashing in if Congress allows sales tax for more online transactions.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would allow states to collect sales tax on purchases made online – whether the retailer is physically located in that state or not

If it passes, states like Utah could receive a revenue windfall – well over a hundred million dollars a year.  Republican Representative Jim Nielson wanted to make sure that didn’t happen.

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Politics
5:18 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Lawmakers, Agencies Hawk Pet Projects at Capitol

Judy Fahys

Lawmakers have been talking for weeks about how to spend taxpayer dollars. Now they are drawing up priority lists in hopes of snagging some of the state’s $5 billion budget for their favorite projects.

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Politics
4:05 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

House Committee Debuts First Bills to Come Out of Swallow Investigation

File: Utah Attorney General John Swallow resigns
Brian Grimmett

Candidates for state office and the Utah legislature could soon be required to disclose a lot more information when they run for office, and they’ll have former Utah Attorney General John Swallow to thank for it.

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Politics
3:00 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Should the State Collect an Energy Tax on the NSA Facility in Bluffdale?

The floor of the Utah Senate
Brian Grimmett

Utah Senators reluctantly gave preliminary approval to a bill that would give the NSA data center in Bluffdale an exemption from paying a utility tax.

Sen. Jerry Stevenson’s SB45 limits the ability of the Military Installation Development Authority, or MIDA, to levy an energy tax against the recently constructed NSA data center. He says an agreement to not collect this tax is one of the reasons why they chose to build here and if they don’t pass this bill they won’t be living up to their commitment.

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Politics
4:41 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Lawmaker Wants to Put an End to the Banning of Specific Dog Breeds

Captain Cowpants, a pit bull, attended the committee hearing.
Brian Grimmett

Pit bull owners scored a small victory today when a bill that would prohibit local governments from creating ordinances that ban specific breeds of dogs narrowly passed out of a house committee.

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Politics
4:22 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Report Shows Lower Rate of Alcohol Abuse Problems in Utah

  A report done for the Utah legislature shows the social problems associated with alcohol are decreasing.  But the legislator behind the report says it would be hard to justify changes in Utah’s liquor laws based just on the report’s findings.

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Politics
10:00 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Bill Would Mandate How Cities Use a Portion of Beer Tax Revenue

Brian Grimmett/KUER file photo

A bill passed the Utah House Thursday that would require cities and towns to use some beer tax revenue on alcohol treatment and prevention programs. 

Forty percent of the money generated from beer and alcohol sales goes to municipalities in Utah and only about four percent of that money is spent on programs that combat underage drinking. Cache County Republican Representative Jack Draxler wants to change that.

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Politics
2:48 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Renewed Plea Made for Tax Check-Off Donations to Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund

Namesake of The Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund, Atkinson at the YWCA Center for Families, makes a plea for tax payers to make a donation when they file their 2013 Income Tax Returns.
Credit Bob Nelson

Governor Gary Herbert says he hopes Utahns will increase their donations to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund when filing their Utah State Tax return. He spoke at an event promoting the fund Thursday at the YWCA Center for Families. He says a 50 percent increase from 2 dollars to 3 is not too much to ask in a state that leads the nation in charity and volunteerism.

Pamela Atkinson talked about a young family she met Wednesday night at the St. Vincent DePaul Soap Kitchen.  She says, despite their struggles, she could clearly see they had already accomplished a lot.

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Politics
3:04 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Hatch to Senate: Immigration Reform Must Happen, Affordable Care Act Needs to be Replaced

Sen. Orrin Hatch addresses the Utah Senate
Brian Grimmett

Republican U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch touched on health care, immigration this morning when he addressed the Utah House and Senate Floors at the State Capitol.

Earlier this week, Hatch announced he is co-sponsoring a new Republican-led healthcare bill that he hopes will replace the Affordable Care Act. He says the Patient Choice Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment — or CARE — Act will cost less and have fewer mandates than the current health law.

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Politics
1:43 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Community Advocates Kick Off IRS Tax Season with EITC Help

Credit File: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

The official Internal Revenue Service tax season kicked off Friday. Legislators and low-income advocates from United Way, Voices for Utah Children, and “Earn it…Keep it…Save it” gathered at the state capitol to mark the day. They are urging Utahns to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or E-I-T-C, when they file their returns. IRS spokesman Bill Brunson says the average Utah EITC was $2,300 dollars last year and he says the amount could be as high as $6,200.

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Politics
1:30 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Local and State Leaders Discuss Rural Issues at State Capitol

Rural businesses and counties show off their products and services in the Capitol rotunda during the 4th Annual Rural Legislative Day
Brian Grimmett

Local leaders and Utah lawmakers representing rural areas of the state gathered at the State Capitol today for the legislatures annual Rural Day to discuss their priorities for this year’s legislative session.

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, who is himself a former rural legislator from Fairview, Utah, spent about a half hour talking with the group about the challenges rural areas face and some of the potential solutions.

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Politics
11:29 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Herbert: State is Strong, But There are Challenges to Confront

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says the state is strong, but there are still several challenges that Utah must confront. Herbert was speaking at his 5th annual State of the State Address.

Herbert highlighted investigations into former Attorney General John Swallow as a success, as well as the state’s 4.1 percent underemployment rate –which is among the lowest in the nation. But he was also quick to acknowledge the hardships—a booming population, federal overreach and economic development  

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Politics
8:30 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

KUER Coverage of the 2014 State of the State Address

Brian Grimmett/KUER file photo

On Wednesday night, Governor Gary Herbert delivered his 2014 State of the State Address at the Utah Capitol.  The audio of the  speech and our coverage is attached above. Shortly after the address the Utah Democratic Party released a statement reacting to the Governor's speech.  That statement is below:

UTAH DEMOCRATS TO HERBERT: THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

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Politics
5:35 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Drug Overdose Bill Nods to Good Samaritans

The Utah House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that is intended to assist people who call for emergency help when someone is overdosing on drugs.

Amelia Sorich died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine even though two friends might have saved her life by calling for help. But the friends chose not to because they feared being prosecuted the drugs in their possession. Holladay Democratic Rep. Carol Spackman Moss says there are too many cases just like that. She crafted a bill to grant limited immunity to Good Samaritans who find themselves in a position to help.

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Politics
12:10 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Opponents, Supporters Rally at the Capitol

Billie Christiansen, her daughter and grandson attend a rally supporting anti-discrimination measures at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday.

    

Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage gathered for separate rallies Tuesday night at the state Capitol. Both sides said fundamental values are at stake. 

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Politics
3:24 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Lawmaker Wants to Allow Taxpayers to Contribute to Amendment 3 Defense

A Republican state lawmaker from Tooele County is proposing legislation that would help fund the state’s defense of its law banning gay marriage. 

Representative Merrill Nelson’s bill would create a box on the state income tax form and allow state residents to give a portion of their tax refunds to the cause.   Nelson says people on both sides of the issue could benefit from his legislation.

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Politics
2:36 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

USTAR Governing Authority Responds to Scathing Audit

USTAR Governing Authority Chairman Greg Bell testifies before the Business, Economic Development, and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee
Brian Grimmett

Members of the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative or USTAR Governing body responded to a scathing audit today during one of the appropriations subcommittee at the Capitol.

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Politics
4:01 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Utah House Speaker Challenges Governor Herbert

Members of the Utah House of Representatives stand and applaud during Speaker Becky Lockhart's remarks. (Jan. 27, 2014)
Andrea Smardon

The Utah House of Representatives opened this year’s legislative session with some bold remarks from Republican Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, challenging Governor Gary Herbert.

Just like speeches from years’ past, Speaker Lockhart railed against the over-reach of the federal government, and insisted that Utah resist. But this time, she targeted Governor Herbert who has recently said that he favors some limited expansion of Medicaid in the state.

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Politics
3:13 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Utah Senate Leaders Say Changes to Liquor Laws Unlikely

Brian Grimmett

On the first day of the 2014 legislative session, Republican leaders in the Utah Senate say there is little support for changing Utah’s liquor laws this year— specifically those laws dealing with the so-called “Zion Curtain” and a requirement that restaurant patrons announce their intent to eat food before ordering alcoholic beverages.

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Politics
2:17 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Utah's Outside Counsel in Amendment 3 Case Will Also Work for Conservative Sutherland Institute

Gene Schaerr
Gene Schaerr

The attorney hired to represent the state of Utah in its appeal of the same-sex marriage decision will also be working for a conservative think tank.

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Politics
3:33 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Democrats Announce Legislative Agenda for 2014

Brian Grimmett

House and Senate Democrats unveiled their plans for the 2014 legislative session today. Chief among them is a proposal to increase the minimum wage and another to create an independent elections commission in response to investigations into former Utah Attorney General John Swallow.

Representative Lynn Hemingway would like to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.25—what he calls a living wage. Hemingway says the bill would only impact workers over the age of 17.

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Politics
1:58 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Herbert Defends Stance on Same-Sex Marriage

Governor Gary R. Herbert (R-UT)
Utah Education Network

  Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he believes regulating marriage is a state’s rights issue, but he understands many people are disappointed by his order to keep the state from recognizing same sex marriages performed legally after a key federal court decision.

Herbert says he was disappointed by federal Judge Robert Shelby’s decision invalidating Utah’s Amendment Three, which bars recognition of same-sex relationships. But earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed Shelby’s ruling putting gay marriages on hold in Utah.

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Politics
2:26 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Sutherland Institute, Count My Vote Debate Merits of Direct Primary Elections

Utah GOP Chairman James Evans, LaVarr Webb, Kirk Jowers, and Paul Mero participate in a panel on the County My Vote initiative.
Brian Grimmett

Leaders of the Count My Vote initiative joined members of the opposition to discuss their ballot measure Wednesday during a panel at the Sutherland Institute Legislative Policy Conference.

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Politics
1:14 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Utah Counties Fear Elimination of PILT Funding

Funding from the federal PILT program helps counties provide services to large areas of federal land. This landscape is part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Garfield County, Utah
Dan Bammes

UPDATE:  Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT1) met yesterday with House leadership, including Speaker John Boehner and budget committee chair Paul Ryan.  Bishop says he's been assured funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program will be included in an upcoming appr0priations bill, though not in the combined spending bill the House will be voting on Wednesday.

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  Members of Utah’s Congressional delegation are trying to save federal funding for rural counties. Losing it could hurt some counties badly. 

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Politics
5:17 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow and Council Members Take Oath of Office

New West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow receives the official city pin from former mayor Mike Winder following the ceremony Monday. The Mayor's grandson Braden looks on.
Credit Bob Nelson

West Valley City’s new mayor, Ron Bigelow, was officially sworn into office along with three city council members Monday. The new mayor’s speech highlighted the diversity of the city’s residents as both strengths and challenges for the city. Bigelow called on West Valley citizens to play a larger part of making the city a better place to live.

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Politics
4:13 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Sean Reyes Sworn In As New Attorney General

Sean Reyes repeates the Oath of Office
Brian Grimmett

Sean Reyes was officially sworn in as the new Attorney General of Utah today in a ceremony at the State Capitol.

In a crowded Capitol Rotunda Sean Reyes took the oath of office to become Utah’s next Attorney General. The ceremony comes less than a year after former Attorney General John Swallow took the same oath, only later to resign in the midst of several investigations into his conduct. Reyes says his first job is to restore the public’s trust in his office.

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Politics
5:00 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Rep. Jim Nielson Won't Run for a Third Term

State Representative Jim Nielson (R-Bountiful)
courtesy photo

  State Representative Jim Nielson says he won’t be running for a third term. 

In three legislative sessions, the Republican from Bountiful earned a reputation as a conservative in a House that’s pretty conservative already.  As he prepares for his final session, Nielson says it’s likely lawmakers will be looking at ways to address the same-sex marriage issue – perhaps by getting government entirely out of the marriage business.

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