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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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Local Government
3:34 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Bill to Change Utah Gas Tax Advances

A proposal to tie Utah’s gas tax to the price of fuel is heading to the state Senate for consideration. Members of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee voted unanimously Wednesday in support of a bill which would impose a percentage tax per gallon of gas.

Utahns currently pay 24.5 cents to the state for every gallon of gas, a tax rate set back in 1997. Senator John Valentine believes that the tax should more closely align with the price of gas – since that’s how the state pays for road construction and maintenance.

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Environment & Public Lands
8:21 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Study Finds No Extra Environmental Cancer Risk Near Incinerator

The Foxboro neighborhood of North Salt Lake is adjacent to Stericycle's medical waste incinerator.
Andrea Smardon

The Utah Department of Health has completed an analysis of 35 years of cancer data in the area surrounding Stericycle’s North Salt Lake medical waste incinerator. The study shows no increased environmental cancer risk for residents in South Davis County.

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Education
6:00 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Preschool Program Wins House Approval

The idea behind House Bill 96 is to help preschoolers prepare for the classroom -- through at-home programs as well as pre-K programs. The bill is headed to the Senate after passing the House on Tuesday.
Credit Tasha Cook

The Utah House threw its support behind new results-based programs to boost early-childhood education. It’s a concept backed by leaders of both parties.  

Republican Rep. Greg Hughes of Draper says all Utahns have a stake in making sure that all children get a good start at school – even before they’re in kindergarten. His bill calls for investors to foot the bill for expanding early education programs like those in the Park City and Granite School districts. Hughes says the $5 million program will provide opportunities for disadvantaged children

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Education
3:55 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Daily Testing with Riders Set to Begin on U of U's First Electric Shuttle

First All-Electric Shuttle at the University of Utah ready to quietly haul passengers.
Credit Bob Nelson

The riderless testing phase of the new all electric bus at the University of Utah is now complete. Alma Allred, the Executive Director of Commuter Services, says they’ll start shuttling riders for the next testing phase as soon as they get approval to release the federal grant money.

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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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LGBT Rights
1:27 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Churches, Legislators File Arguments in Same-Sex Marriage Appeal

Russel Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not alone in its arguments against the legalization of same-sex marriage in Utah.  Other religious groups have signed on to a friend-of-the court brief to the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, while another has been filed by Utah state legislators

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LGBT Rights
10:15 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

State Troopers Arrest Protestors at Capitol Sit-in for LGBT Rights

Protestors defy orders from the Utah Highway Patrol, and sit in front of the Governor's office.
Andrea Smardon

A dozen protestors were taken away from the Utah Capitol Monday afternoon in handcuffs. The protestors were there to demand that an LGBT anti-discrimination bill be considered. They were arrested when they blocked the entrance of a Senate Committee hearing.

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Entertainment
10:04 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

After Long Journey, Women's Ski Jumping Finally Gets Its Olympic Debut

Lindsey Van flies down the in-run at nearly 60 mph
Credit Brian Grimmett

In one of their final practices before heading off to Sochi Jessica Jerome, Lindsey Van, and Sarah Hendrickson take turns launching off of the 90 meter hill at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. It’s a venue that was built for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:06 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Weekend Storm Gives Welcomed Boost to Utah Snowpack

Skiers enjoyed vistas of fresh snow at Patsy Marley, near the Alta Resort, after the four-day storm. Avalanche danger was high in much of the backcountry after nearly 3 feet of snow fell at nearby Alta Resort.
Credit Don Sharaf, American Avalanche Institute

Rain and snow drenched northern Utah this weekend, bringing moisture that will make a big difference in spring and summer. 

Randy Julander works for the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. He monitors Utah’s snowpack. He also watches water levels in Utah’s streams and reservoirs with an eye on what that means for irrigation and drinking water. Last week his office reported that snowpack was just 75 percent of normal statewide. Julander says key reservoirs were less than half full.

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Business & Labor
4:54 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Mexico Business Symposium Attempts to Balance Utah-Mexico Trade

Mexico City Skyline
Credit File: Governor's Office of Economic Development

Utah is the top destination state in the nation for products coming from Mexico but ranks only 37th among states exporting to Mexico.  The Governor’s Office of Economic Development hosted a free Mexico Business Symposium Monday at The Leonardo in downtown Salt Lake City in an attempt at reaching a better balance of trade. Harvey Scott is the director of International Trade and Diplomacy for the Office. He says while Utah already has strong business ties with Mexico, there is room for improvement.

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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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Environment & Public Lands
1:18 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Bill Would Increase Fees on Clean Vehicles

  Electric cars, hybrid cars and vehicles powered by natural gas would pay dramatically higher registration fees under a bill in the Utah State Senate.  Republican Senator Wayne Harper of West Jordan says vehicles that don’t use gasoline or diesel fuel need to pay their fair share to maintain Utah’s roads.

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KUER Local News
12:53 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Safety Concerns as Fire Investigation Begins

A four-alarm fire destroyed an apartment building under construction in Salt Lake City Sunday evening
Emily Bingham Hollingshead

  A four-alarm fire destroyed an apartment building under construction in Salt Lake City yesterday.  The building was empty, and firefighters were able to protect neighboring structures as well as the Smith’s supermarket just across 500 South.  But Jasen Asay  with the Salt Lake City Fire Department says they don’t want to send investigators into the building until it’s safe.  He says one of the problems is a crane that was caught in the flames.

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Public Safety
4:57 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

House Bill Could Mean Higher Speed Limits

The House passed a bill Friday by Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, that may mean more 80 mph highways in Utah. The bill goes next to the Senate for consideration.
Credit Utah Department of Transportation

    

The Utah House has passed a bill that could mean higher speed limits on more of Utah’s interstate highways.

Close to 400 miles of Utah’s highways already allow drivers to go 80 mph. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, says more areas of interstate freeway should be considered for higher speeds. His bill would allow the Utah Department of Transportation to study divided highways where it might make sense to let drivers go faster. He says the Utah Division of Air Quality told him that faster driving does not lead to more pollution.

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Religion
4:35 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

LDS Church Will File Arguments in Utah Marriage Case

LDS church offices in Salt Lake City
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is planning to file a friend-of-the-court brief after all in the appeal of the federal court case on same sex marriage in Utah.  The case is currently before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

The church has been involved in other cases and in political battles involving same-sex marriage in the past.  But a spokesperson said shortly after the U-S Supreme Court issued a stay of Judge Robert Shelby’s decision that it probably would not add a formal argument to the case.

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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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Education
2:37 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Chocolate: The Exhibition Opens at the Natural History Museum of Utah

Brothers pose for parents on chocolate chairs in front of a giant box of chocolates at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Chocolate: The Exhibition runs through June 1st.
Credit Bob Nelson

Chocolate: The Exhibition officially opens Saturday at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Sarah George is the executive director of the museum. She says the exhibition gives visitors a good sense of the botany, culture, and history of the cacao that date back to the Olmec people of the Mexican Gulf Coast.

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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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Education
5:29 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Westminster Cheers for 23 Students in Russia

Westminster College Junior Jessica Jerome will be ski jumping in Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Westminster College community will be watching the opening ceremonies in Sochi with extra pride this year. The liberal arts school in Salt Lake City has more students competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics than any other U.S. college or university.

In all, there are 23 skiers and snowboarders in Sochi right now who are working simultaneously towards a degree at Westminster College. Deb Vickery is their academic advisor on campus.

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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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Religion
12:20 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

U Brain Study Looks At Religious Experience

A functional MRI scanner will be used in Dr. Jeffrey Anderson's research on religious experience.
Wikimedia Commons

  A new study at the University of Utah is trying to determine what’s happening in the brain when someone has strong religious feelings.

Studies of Buddhist monks and Catholic nuns have shown significant changes in the brain during periods of quiet meditation.  Now, neurology researcher Jeffrey Anderson has designed a study to watch what happens to former Mormon missionaries as they experience religious emotions.

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Education
7:43 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Both Parties Pledge Bipartisanship on Education Bills

Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, describes his party's education bills at a Wednesday news conference.
Credit Judy Fahys

Legislators have proposed around 80 education bills in the Legislative session so far. Democrats and Republicans say they will work together to improve Utah’s classrooms.

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Health Care
5:50 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Utah Gets Visit from Federal Healthcare Officials

Kim Gillan is the new Region VIII Director for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are in Utah this week on a two-day trip to talk with state lawmakers and advocates. The visit was ostensibly a chance for Utahns to meet the new regional director, but healthcare advocates say they also got a pep talk to sign more people up for insurance, and to continue pushing for a Medicaid expansion in the state. 

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Environment & Public Lands
3:38 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Bill Requiring Cleaner State Fleet Moves Ahead

Compressed natural gas fueling station in Myton, Utah
Utah Clean Cities

  A bill that requires the state to use high-efficiency, low-polluting vehicles in its own fleet got strong support in the Utah State Senate this morning.

Senate Bill 99 originally required the state to use compressed natural gas vehicles for half its fleet by 2018.  But Republican Senator Scott Jenkins changed it to allow vehicles that use low-sulfur Tier 3 gasoline.  Jenkins says the people who run the state motor pool say it would accomplish the same goal for a lot less money.

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Business & Labor
2:33 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

House Speaker Lockhart On Board With New Convention Hotel Proposal

File: Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City
Brian Grimmett

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams unveiled a new proposal today to get a hotel built to support the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake. 

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Environment & Public Lands
6:17 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Willard Bay Spill Settlement Finalized with Call for Expanded Mitigation Projects

Oil booms on Willard Bay in the weeks following the leaking of nearly 21,000 gallons of diesel fuel on the marshy area of the bay.
Credit Dan Bammes

A settlement in the Chevron Pipeline diesel fuel spill at Willard Bay State Park has been finalized between the company, Utah State Parks and Recreation, and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Nearly 21,000 gallons of fuel spilled following a Chevron Pipeline Company pipe failure on March 18th, 2013. The DEQ announced Tuesday that with the Utah Water Quality Board approval, the 5-point 3 million dollar settlement becomes official.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:28 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Students Lobby for a New State Tree

Nine 4th graders from Angie Blomquist's class at Monroe Elementary in Sevier County traveled to the Capitol to testify on behalf of their bill to change the state tree to the quaking aspen. They posed with State Forester Brian Cottam, who also spoke in favor of the bill.
Credit Judy Fahys

A group of concerned school kids made their way to the Utah State Capitol Tuesday to ask lawmakers to change one of the state’s symbols. 

Fourth-grade lobbyists say Utah needs a new state tree.  Members of Mrs. Blomquist’s class from Monroe Elementary in Sevier County pressed their case at the Capitol. Nine of the students told senators why the Colorado blue spruce should make way for the quaking aspen.

“The quaking aspen is self-pruning,” said Neomi Avery, “They take care of themselves just like Utah citizens.”

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Public Safety
3:03 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Bill Aims to Limit Liability of Police Officers in Car Chases

File: Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, on the House floor
Brian Grimmett

A bill aimed at removing a police officer’s liability for the injury or death of a fleeing suspect passed out of the Utah House today.

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Education
2:00 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Bill Gives Teachers More Time for Professional Development

Proposed legislation could give Utah teachers more days to train and prepare at no additional cost to taxpayers –but it would mean fewer days in the classroom with students. Members of the Senate Education Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to advance the bill.  

Senate Bill 103, sponsored by Republican Senator Aaron Osmond would give local school districts the flexibility to swap regular instruction days for teacher professional development days.

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