Utah lawmakers have given preliminary approval to state-wide housing and workplace protections for gays and lesbians. Last night, members of the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services committee advanced the bill. It’s the first time a statewide non-discrimination measure has survived a committee hearing in Utah.
Republican Senator Steve Urquhart sponsored Senate Bill 262. He told the committee the basic principle behind the bill is straightforward.
A bill that would allow citizens to register to vote in Utah on election-day was approved by a House Committee today. HB 91 would allow voters to register at the polls on and require county clerks to count those votes. Democrat Rebecca Chavez Houck of Salt Lake County is the sponsor of the bill. She hopes the legislation would increase voter turnout.
The Utah House passed a bill today that would provide tax credits to those who purchase clean fuel vehicles over the next five years.
Republican Representative Jack Draxler’s bill, HB 96, would change the current tax incentive program by eliminating credits for gasoline and propane vehicles. The Logan lawmaker hopes his legislation would motivate people to buy cars and trucks that produce minimal or zero emissions.
The Utah House of Representatives considered three gun bills Tuesday afternoon and managed a vote on only one of them.
Of the three gun-related bills that the Utah House had a chance to debate, only Republican Rep. Dixon Pitcher’s HB121 received a vote. It would allow an individual to turn over a gun in his or her household to the police for up to 60 days if they feel it presents a danger to themselves or others in the house. Rep. Pitcher says he believes this law will help save lives without causing too much inconvenience.
State Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck talks about her bill that would begin the process of expanding Medicaid in Utah. She and other members of the Democratic caucus are calling on Governor Gary Herbert to expand the program.
Utah Democrats in the state legislature called on Governor Gary Herbert today to move forward with increasing Medicaid coverage. States have the option to expand their programs under the Affordable Care Act.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman announced his support yesterday for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the latest edition of The American Conservative magazine.
In the Op-Ed, Huntsman called on all Republicans to support marriage equality saying [quote] “Building a winning coalition to tackle the looming fiscal and trust deficits will be impossible if we continue to alienate broad segments of the population.”
Utah Governor Gary Herbert says a decision on expanding Utah's Medicaid program may have to wait until this summer. Herbert told his monthly news conference on KUED Thursday morning that Utah won't follow the lead of any other state on the issue.
State Lawmakers considered a handful of firearms bills in committees on Wednesday. About half of the measures reinforce the status quo or make guns more available to Utahns. One bill in particular was met with heated debate.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch visited state representatives in the House Wednesday to deliver what he called unhappy news. He says the Sequester, the automatic across-the-board spending cuts, will happen and it will be a difficult thing, especially for civilian employees at Hill Air Force Base.
”and it’s certainly going to hit a lot of small contractors and it’s also going to hit our workforce up there, is about two thirds civilian. So if you can imagine we’ve got to be prepared for whatever comes,”says Hatch.
Utah lawmakers are reportedly working with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and social rights groups to help pass a statewide law protecting gays and lesbians from housing and employment discrimination. Utah Governor Gary Herbert told reporters Tuesday he’s not involved in the discussions but will consider the bill.
Utah Republican Party leaders decided to table a discussion about a scandal affecting Attorney General John Swallow over the weekend. Swallow is being investigated by the US Attorney’s Office for allegedly helping business man Jeremy Johnson bribe US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Members of the GOP State Central Committee voted against holding a formal discussion on the issue, though some say it’s one of the most important issues facing the party.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker joined Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell at the State capitol today in announcing their ideas on how government on both the local and state level can help improve air quality.
Accountants are urging the state to prepare for an economic crisis brought on by national debt. Conservative Utah lawmakers responded Tuesday by announcing legislation to assess the risks and develop contingency plans if federal funds disappear.
A group of Democratic legislators are introducing six new bills in an effort to help tackle Utah’s poor air quality.
The content of the proposed bills ranges from offering free passes for UTA Buses and TRAX trains to allowing the state to put in place stricter restrictions than the Environmental Protection Agency already requires. Representative Joel Briscoe is sponsoring the bill that would fund giving away free UTA passes. He says even with a tight budget this is something that should be attainable.
Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz told members of the Utah Legislature to be prepared for an imminent cyber-attack during remarks made in both the House and Senate chambers Friday.
Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz says the future of economic development in Utah depends on the growth of high tech companies but with that comes the increased threat of cyber-attacks. He also stressed the importance of being prepared for such an attack telling legislators it’s not a matter if, but when.
A bill making it illegal to smoke in a car with children is one step closer to becoming law after getting a favorable recommendation from the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Democratic Representative Patrice Arent says her bill is aimed at helping the thousands of children without a voice who are being harmed by second hand smoke in cars. Several doctors spoke in favor of the bill, including Dr. Kevin Nelson, a pediatrician at the University of Utah.
Members of the Utah House passed a bill today that would give businesses a tax break if they hire people who are homeless.
Salt Lake County Democrat Brian King crafted the bill that would give businesses a tax credit of between five hundred and two thousand dollars for hiring an individual who is homeless. King said the legislation is designed to help some live more stable lives.
"What this is doing is giving individuals and a group of individuals who are struggling to be contributing citizens an opportunity to join our ranks as contributors," said King.
Governor Gary R. Herbert delivered his State of the State address last night at the Capitol. He showcased Utah’s strong economic growth and pledged to increase support for education.
Governor Herbert focused on education during the first part of his speech calling for sixty-six percent of Utahns to have completed some form of higher education by 2020. He pledged to invest up to 40 million dollars in the science, technology, engineering and math education or STEM program and Herbert promised to improve public education.
Utah courts are becoming stronger, more efficient and more transparent according to newly-appointed Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant. Durrant gave the annual State of the Judiciary to lawmakers this afternoon on day one of the 2013 legislative session.
Chief Justice Durrant touted the high court's ability to handle a 10 percent cut in staff during the recession. In the face of reductions, the court system was able to reduce the age of pending cases by 34 percent, meaning cases are being resolved faster.