A couple of alcohol related bills managed to make their way through House committees Wednesday including one that would eliminate Utah’s so-called “Zion Curtain.”
HB228 eliminates provisions in Utah law that requires restaurants to keep open liquor bottles and the actual mixing of drinks out of public sight. Republican Rep. Gage Froerer voted in favor of the bill. He says the current law is an unnecessary obstacle.
The latest Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index numbers revealed today highlight the difference between Utah’s economy and the rest of the country. The Cicero Group does the survey for Zions Bank. Cicero’s Randy Shumway says the small increase of 1.1 points in Utahns’ confidence shows the contrasts between the two stories.
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.
Utah lawmakers are hoping to bring in millions of additional tax dollars from online retailers, but a bill being proposed might be in conflict with the U-S Constitution. Federal law currently allows the state to collect taxes from online retailers as long as they have a physical location in that state, like a store or distribution warehouse. Senate Bill 226, sponsored by Republican Senator Wayne Harper would empower Utah to collect taxes from some out-of-state online retailers.
The Utah House of Representatives voted Monday to allow restaurant patrons to order drinks before ordering food. House Bill 218 would also make more liquor permits available for certain types of dining establishments.
Under current statute, restaurant customers are required to order food if they want to order an alcoholic drink. If they don’t, the restaurant may be fined 500 dollars, which happened to several Utah establishments recently. Republican Gage Froerer of Huntsville says his bill will clarify the state’s policy and prevent future fines.
The U.S. Supreme Court is receiving briefs from all over the country as it prepares to take up same sex marriage next month, including Utah. The Court will hear arguments in two cases concerning the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. The Utah Pride Center plans to file an amicus brief to the nation’s highest court this week, arguing that laws that ban same sex marriage amount to discrimination. But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Utah’s Attorney General have filed their own briefs in defense of traditional marriage and states’ rights to decide.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert addresses Medicaid expansion, guns, and the sequester at his monthly news conference, the Legislature debates a suicide prevention bill, and former Governor Jon Huntsman says he supports gay marriage.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and a number of other regional and state leaders joined together to announce several new projects and events that will make riding a bike throughout the county easier and safer. Becker says they’ve received more positive feedback from their bike initiatives over the past few years than anything else and that this year it will only get better.
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.”
Lawmakers from separate parties and different chambers are finding synergy in moving anti-bullying and anti-suicide legislation during the session. Democratic Senator Luz Robles and Republican Representative Gage Froerer say when they found out they were working individually on the same thing they decided to team up. Froerer says HB-134 is a statewide effort to make a dent in the epidemic of teen suicides as well as bullying in our schools.
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.
In part two of our series on clearing the air KUER’s Terry Gildea takes a look at what state lawmakers are doing, the legislature gets its first look at several gun bills, and Senator Orrin Hatch brings gloom and doom to the House and Senate Floor.
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.
Democratic Representatives Brian King, Joel Briscoe and Patrice Arent attend a clean air rally at the Capitol. Both Briscoe and Arent are among the sponsors of a series of bills Democrats hope would provide some future relief from inversion air.
As Utahns persist through one of the worst winter inversion seasons in a decade, many have focused their frustration and anger over dirty air on elected officials in the Utah legislature. In part two of our series Clearing the Air, KUER News explores the short and long term solutions lawmakers are proposing.
Governor Gary Herbert weighs in on a potential statewide anti-discrimination bill, the Utah Senate gives preliminary approval to a bill that would require the state to collect abortion statistics, and oil and gas drilling are the cause of most of the air pollution in the Uintah basin.
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.
After a year of studying winter ozone air pollution in Utah’s Uintah Basin, a team of scientists has determined that oil and gas wells are causing most of the problem.
The team at Utah State University’s Uintah Basin campus studied ozone last winter – when there were only a few inversion days and not much of a problem. It’s been worse this year, and Seth Lyman with the Bingham Research Center says a big part of the problem is the volatile organic compounds such as benzene coming from thousands of oil and gas wells.
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.
The Utah Department of Health says that the privately contracted cost/benefit analysis of the optional Medicaid expansion is still not complete. The Social Services joint appropriations committee had planned to hear the report Tuesday morning.
Arguments over Utah’s immigration enforcement law were heard in US District Court Friday. It was the first hearing on the law in about a year. Judge Clark Waddoups was waiting to rule on the constitutionality of HB 497 until after the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on Arizona’s enforcement-only law.
Cecillia Wang is Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights Project, and a lawyer in the case against HB 497. Standing outside the US District Court in Salt Lake City after the hearing, Wang said the tide is turning in their favor.
The battle over access to fishing streams in Utah probably won’t be resolved in this legislative session, but that was welcome news to anglers who brought the issue to the state capitol on Friday.
About 400 people who had gathered on the capitol steps cheered the news that the sponsor of House Bill 68 will hold on to his bill for now. It would declare the state has met its obligations to keep streams open as a public trust.
Local government leaders call on the state legislature to act on cleaning up the air, nearly a dozen nonprofits working to end violence against women put on a dance show at the State Capitol, and a group of same-sex couples in Salt Lake use Valentine’s day to bring attention to marriage equality.
Some Utah couples marked Valentine’s Day with flowers, some even tied the knot, but some gay and lesbian couples in Salt Lake County chose the occasion to bring attention to the fact that they don’t have the right to marry. Same-sex couples submitted applications for marriage licenses Thursday, knowing that they would be turned away.