A bill to reform the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) is heading to the governor’s desk for his approval. The legislation comes after an audit found that the program exaggerated the number of jobs created.
TransWest Express LLC wants to be the first company in the West to build and operate an electricity transmission line. House Bill 44 would require TransWest to offer capacity on its line to Utah companies. Investor-owned TransWest says its too soon for contracts like that that and vows to sue if lawmakers pass the bill.
Some of the fastest growing Utah colleges and universities also receive the lowest amount of state funding per student. But this year, the state legislature has set aside $50 million to strike a balance at these institutions and keep costs low for students.
Utah Valley University, Weber State University, Salt Lake Community College, Dixie State University and Utah State University regional campuses will all get some of the so-called equity funding.
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.
A bill that would provide training for teachers and parents on child sexual abuse and give schools the option to educate students about avoiding abuse cleared its last major hurtle in the state legislature on Tuesday.
House Bill 286, sponsored by Democratic Representative Angela Romero requires the State Board of Education and Department of Human Services to approve the required curriculum by 2016.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to hear from the public on its plans to allow two companies to drill and operate energy wells in the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge. This is a view of the Green River at the refuge.
Credit Jaclyn Kircher / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Two energy companies are seeking permission to drill in the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Utah. The federal agency reviewing the proposal is now ready to hear from the public.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working for two years with the companies behind the drilling plans. Thurston Energy and Ultra Resources plan a total of 11 wells in their separate projects. The Uinta Basin already has over 10,000 oil and gas wells, so the new ones might not seem like much. But the wildlife refuge exists to safeguard wildlife and its habitat.
Kevin J. Worthen will become the 13th president of Brigham Young University. His appointment was announced Tuesday morning at a student devotional.
Worthen is a former law professor and the current vice-president of advancement at BYU.
Among his challenges in the new job will be dealing with hundreds of young men and women coming home from missionary service. The change in the age for service to 18 for men and 19 for women meant BYU had a smaller incoming freshman class this year. Worthen thinks those returning missionaries may be better prepared.
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.
Americans are using public transit more than ever. And Utahns are part of that trend.
A new report says Americans took a record 10.7 billion trips last year on public transportation. The Utah Transit Agency has seen a similar trend. Its trains, buses and trolleys logged 44 million trips last year -- more than ever before.
American Fork resident Greg Davidson rides the new FrontRunner line from where he lives in Utah County into Salt Lake City a few times a month. Today he’s headed to the airport on the new TRAX line.
Utah House and Senate leaders have finally come to an agreement on the state budget following a week’s-long impasse. The sticking point was primarily House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart’s proposed $200 million technological upgrade for public education. But that bill is now off the table.
House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart says the technology initiative would have required up to $50 million in ongoing revenue to make it worthwhile. But Senate leaders were unwilling to spend more than $26 million.
Time is running out for the Utah legislature to make a decision on what they want to do about health insurance for low-income Utahns. There are several health reform proposals in the legislature that have yet to be approved, with only four working days left in the session. But at this point, the governor has the power to move forward with his plan, so long as lawmakers don’t stand in his way.
The Utah House passed a bill Friday to allow communities to raise local sales tax rates to pay for transit projects. Supporters say it would help clean up Utah’s air.
Utah’s clean air advocates like the Quarter for Clean Air bill. So do local communities that would like revenue to put more buses on the road and expand service hours. Justin Jones is communications director for the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. He says Utah’s business sees it as an important keep Utah growing wisely.
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’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.
Utah won’t be subjecting state school board candidates to partisan elections this year. House Bill 228, sponsored by Republican Representative Brian Greene, would have done away with the current process of choosing candidates for the ballot in favor of partisan election. The House narrowly voted it down on Friday.
Right now, a seven-member committee appointed by the governor is responsible for recruiting and vetting candidates. The governor then takes the committee’s recommendations and narrows the list down to two candidates for each district.
A bill to reduce wood-stove soot in Utah’s high-pollution areas is headed to the Senate after receiving House approval Thursday. The bill would help fund programs to help people who rely on woodstoves alone to convert to cleaner home-heating alternatives.
Governor Gary Herbert got some positive feedback Thursday on his plan to offer health insurance to low-income Utahns. Herbert visited a homeless health clinic in Salt Lake City and heard from citizens who do not qualify for insurance subsidies, but also do not qualify for Medicaid, leaving them in a coverage gap.
When fine particle air pollution along the Wasatch Front reaches the high end of what the Utah Division of Air Quality deems unhealthy, the Utah Department of Health recommends schools keep students inside for recess. But some wonder if that recommendation should come when pollution levels are even lower. Officials with the Utah Asthma Program say discussions about revising those standards are underway.
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.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told students at Weber State University today she wants to get more young people involved in the outdoors. She was the keynote speaker at Weber State’s Sustainability Summit.
Jewell says recent budget cuts and the government shutdown really hurt the National Park Service and other agencies in her department.
Utah's water picture looked grim about a month ago. But February storms have brightened the outlook.
Two years of lower-than-normal precipitation had left many Utah reservoirs half-full at the beginning of the year. Winter storms didn’t help much either, since the snow seemed to fall everywhere east of Utah's mountains. Brian McInerney is a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. He says back-to-back storms over the past month have boosted the snow pack on the Wasatch Range.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says Utah is about average among other states in how well it covers the civil rights movement in the classroom. But the organization’s latest report from the Teaching Tolerance Project shows the average grade is pretty poor.
A bill imposing new restrictions on payday lenders in Utah passed a crucial vote in the Utah Senate today. HB127 requires payday lenders to disclose the terms of their consumer loans, including the typically high interest rates, before a contract is signed. And the Lenders won’t be allowed to pick the courts where they file lawsuits against borrowers who default either.
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, cited the example of a payday lender in St. George.