Politics

Political news

Sex Abuse Education Bill Passes Legislature

Mar 12, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

  House Bill 286 passed a final vote in the Utah House of Representatives 71-0 on Wednesday, after an amendment in the Senate required it to come back one last time.

Brian Grimmett

Members of the House Special Investigative Committee of former Attorney General John Swallow presented their final report to the full body of the Utah House of Representatives Wednesday. The presentation on the House floor marked the conclusion of the nearly 9 month long investigation into Swallow.

House Swallow Investigation Approves Final Report

Mar 11, 2014
Brian Grimmett

The House Special Investigative Committee of former Utah Attorney General John Swallow approved their final report Tuesday ending a nearly 9 months long process.

Legislative Humor: #InternPickUpLines

Mar 11, 2014

The normal place to find Utah political chatter on Twitter is #utpol, but on Tuesday morning the hashtag InternPickUpLines exploded with humor and wit perfect for the last few days of the Utah legislature. Here is a selection of the very best.

Swallow Committee Delays Final Report

Mar 7, 2014
Brian Grimmett / KUER

The House Committee investigating former Attorney General John Swallow pushed back the release of their final report Friday. It is now scheduled for public release some time next week. Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, says he delayed the release to be able to include information they only recently recovered from a crashed hard drive in one of Swallow’s personal computers.

Utah Unemployment drops to 3.9%

Mar 7, 2014
Dan Bammes

  Utah’s unemployment rate dropped below four percent in February for the first time since 2008.

Governor Gary Herbert was beaming as he went before the TV cameras this morning to say Utah’s unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent, compared to a national rate of 6.7 percent.  The statewide rate of job growth is at 2.8 percent.

Women top the leadership of both parties in Utah’s House of Representatives. But that’s going to change next year. Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake, announced she’s stepping down as leader of the House Democrats. Like House Speaker Becky Lockhart, Seelig is the first woman in Utah’s history to hold her post. She says serving in the Legislature has been an education in juggling and she’s ready to focus once again on her personal goals.

Count My Vote Compromise Heads to Governor’s Desk

Mar 5, 2014

The Utah legislature has approved a compromise solution between the backers of a direct primary system and those who want to preserve the current caucus-convention system.

Members of the House Government Operations Committee voted this morning to advance a newly-minted compromise between legislators and organizers of the Count My Vote ballot initiative. But several members of the committee say they won’t support the bill when it reaches the House Floor. 

Parks, Communities Lost Millions During Shutdown

Mar 3, 2014
Dan Bammes

  The Interior Department issues a report every year on the economic benefit of national parks.  This year, that was complicated by the government shutdown that closed the parks for 16 days in October.

The report from the National Park Service estimates parks and gateway communities lost more than 400-million dollars in visitor spending during the 16-day government shutdown.

Compromise Announced on Count My Vote

Mar 2, 2014
Dan Bammes

Leaders of the Count My Vote ballot initiative appeared with legislative leaders at a rare Sunday news conference to announce a compromise on the effort to replace Utah’s caucus-convention system for nominating political candidates.

The deal preserves the caucus system, but it also allows candidates to get on a primary election ballot by gathering voter signatures on a petition – from one thousand for a legislative seat to 28-thousand for a statewide office such as governor.

Legislature Will Have a Modest Budget Surplus

Feb 28, 2014
Brian Grimmett

  Final revenue projections for the legislative session show the state will have a little more money in the coming year.  For some legislators, though, the numbers were a disappointment.

Budget co-chair Lyle Hillyard announced the new revenue estimates on the floor of the state Senate Friday morning.  One-time revenue – only available in this budget year – was up by 11-million dollars over earlier projections.  Ongoing revenue is expected to rise by 47-million dollars.  That will give the state a surplus just under 200-million dollars out of a total budget of about 13-billion.

Utah Elections Office

    

The Utah House has passed a bill that would allow voters to keep their personal information private. That information is currently available from voter registration records that have been posted online.

Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, supports a bill that would allow voters to choose whether they want their personal details from state election records to be public. Last year, a web site bought personal information for 1.5 million Utah voters and posted it on the web. Hutchings says that kind of data is fodder for thieves like the ones who stole his identity.

Mitt Romney Supports Count My Vote Initiative

Feb 24, 2014
Photo by Terence Burlij/PBS NewsHour.

Organizers of The Count My Vote Initiative can now add Mitt Romney to their group of supporters. If passed, the proposal would move Utah to a direct primary election system.  But a bill moving through the legislature could keep the current caucus system intact.

Mitt Romney has endorsed the Count My Vote initiative in Utah, but Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT3) said Monday he is opposed to changing the state’s nomination process from a caucus-convention system to direct primaries. In his annual address to the state legislature, Chaffetz told lawmakers he could never have beat incumbent Chris Cannon without the caucus system. He said he didn’t have big name ID, and he didn’t have big money, but he did spend time talking with delegates.

Congressman Rob Bishop

  Utah’s 1st District Congressman is hoping he can claim a key committee chairmanship that would give Utah a significant advantage in Congress.  That was one of the messages Republican Rob Bishop brought to the Utah legislature today. 

Courtesy of Congressman Jim Matheson

Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson addressed members of the Utah House and Senate on Thursday.  For now, it is the lawmaker’s last visit to the Capitol as a member of the state congressional delegation.

Congressman Matheson began his speech in the Utah House describing a political atmosphere in Washington, DC that is so partisan that un ending gridlock is the status quo. He says voters are fed up a congress that can’t get work together.

Brian Grimmett

A bill that would exempt political parties from any outcome of the Count My Vote initiative passed another hurdle Thursday as the Utah Senate gave SB54 preliminary approval.

SB 54’s sponsor, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, says the bill is the ultimate compromise between the political parties that want to keep the current caucus/convention system and the members of the Count My Vote initiative that want to move toward direct primaries.

File: Google

Officials with Google announced Wednesday that Salt Lake City is on a list of nine cities where the company wants to expand its ultra-high speed network called Fiber.  It would be the same system that residents of Provo are now signing up for. Michael Slinger is the director of business operations for Google.  He says the announcement only marks the beginning of a six to nine month process.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

A house committee gave unanimous approval to a resolution Wednesday that would allow Stericycle to move their medical waste incinerator to Tooele County.

Utah Education Network

  Utah’s governor says the legislature should be cautious about interfering with a citizen initiative on how candidates for public office are nominated.  

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.

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.

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.

Bill to Cut Internet Sales Tax Defeated

Feb 12, 2014

  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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

  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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