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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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Religion
1:24 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Fast Draws Attention to VA Sweat Lodge Ceremonies

Native American sweat lodge at the Salt Lake City VA Medical Center

  The Salt Lake Veterans Affairs Medical Center has promised to continue Native American healing ceremonies every week – but the spiritual leader who’s conducted them may not be leading them any longer.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:24 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Goodbye to Winter Smog? Forecast Says the Season's Last Inversion Starts next Week

This snapshot of the Climate Center's inversion forecast shows a likelihood of a weeklong inversion -- and the smog building -- beginning in about a week. You can see the page online at: http://climate.usurf.usu.edu/inversion.php
Credit Utah Climate Center

    

Skies have been smog-free in northern Utah for the past few days. Now the Utah Climate Center says we can breathe easy for at least another week.

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Public Safety
4:56 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Lawmaker Aims to Consolidate 9-1-1 System Statewide

House Majority Leader Brad Dee joins Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Graviet, Draper Mayor Troy Walker, Draper City Councilman Jeff Stenquist and Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth.
Whittney Evans

Utah House Majority Leader Brad Dee announced today he is crafting legislation that he hopes will get every jurisdiction in Utah on a single 9-1-1 emergency response system. The Ogden Republican was joined by Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams who’s been trying to do the same thing at the county level.

Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth says it’s time to change the 9-1-1 system in the Salt Lake Valley.  

“I don’t feel safe frankly, totally safe with the dispatch system, the way it’s set up now,” Applegarth says.

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LGBT Rights
4:38 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Despite Public Outpouring, Senate Leaders Determined to Ignore Anti-discrimination Bill

Senate Bill 100 sponsor Steve Urquhart (R-St George) encourages citizens to voice their support of anti-discrimination legislation by posting notes on the door of the Senate chamber.
Andrea Smardon

The Utah Senate chamber doors were plastered with pieces of blue paper today - all expressing support for a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens. But Senate leaders are still determined to bar the bill from being debated on the floor.

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LGBT Rights
4:05 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

State Senator Urges Public to Contact Legislator in Support of Anti-Discrimination Bill

Sen. Steve Urquhart, R - St. George

Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R - St. George, is asking the public to let their state senator and representative know that they are in favor of his anti-discrimination bill. SB 100 would protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing and in the workplace. This week leadership in both the House and Senate have mentioned that bills relating to LGBT issues might not be heard because of the state’s pending case over its ban on same-sex marriage.

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Health Care
3:22 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

House Republicans Working on “Utah Solution” for Poor, Uninsured

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert said this week that the state has a moral obligation to provide some type of health coverage for those living in poverty. House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart says she doesn’t want to accept any federal dollars to do that. Now Republican House lawmakers are working to find a solution that will solve the so-called Medicaid gap, but will also be politically acceptable to those in their own party.

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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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Education
10:03 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Governor's Office of Economic Development Reveals $2 Million STEM Media Campaign

Utah Governor Gary Herbert pumps his fist during the kick-off event for "STEM Utah: Curiosity Unleashed" Media Campaign
Credit Bob Nelson

The Governor's Office of Economic Development launched its 2-million dollar STEM Media Campaign Thursday at Neil Armstrong Academy in West Valley City. In 2013 legislators approved 8 and a half million dollars to support math readiness and another 1 and a half million to set up the Utah STEM Action Center to build student skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. Executive Director of GOED, Spencer Eccles, says kids need to have these skills whether they are going to be artists or astronauts.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:42 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Urban, Rural Lawmakers Spar over Lands

The wildlands near Goblin Valley State Park are part of the rural road controversy.
Credit Ken Lund

  

A state lawmaker says wilderness advocates are waging a war of attrition in the wildlands fight.

Kathleen Clarke leads Utah’s public lands policy office. Her job includes guiding the state’s legal battle over 12,000 roads in rural Utah. The state is fighting the federal government to prevent federal wilderness designation on the land those roads cross. She told legislative budget-makers Thursday some of her agency’s budget will help pay for 200 crucial interviews that need to be done in the next two years.

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Education
5:18 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Salt Lake City School District Apologizes For Witholding School Lunches

File: School Lunch Tray
Casey Bisson/Flickr

A spokesperson for Salt Lake City School District says Uintah Elementary School made a mistake by taking away the lunches of students who owed money. Now state lawmakers say they want to get to the bottom of it.

District Spokesman Jason Olsen says on Tuesday cafeteria workers at Uintah Elementary School threw away the lunches of about 32 students whose lunch accounts were in the negative. Those students were instead given a partial lunch of fruit and milk.  

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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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