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Julia Ritchey / KUER

Bipartisan measures aimed at making sure the state is getting its fair share from the federal government sailed through the Legislature this week.

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Nothing in this world is certain but death and taxes, and legislators are tackling both in Week 5 of the session. This week we talk with reporter Whittney Evans about some surprise backers of a new death penalty repeal effort. We also look at the state's big budget surplus and try to divine what lawmakers might do with all that extra scratch. The Utah Legislature's bluest member Sen. Jim Dabakis announces he's done after this session, joining several other incumbents on their way out the door, like Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, our featured guest on 'Better Know a Lawmaker.'

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President Donald Trump is considering easing restrictions so that teachers can be armed to prevent school shootings. It’s a idea that already has traction in several Mountain West states, including Utah.

Screenshot / Jim Dabakis Facebook

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, confessed to Senate colleagues that he was legally impaired while presenting a bill to delay implementation of the state’s strictest-in-the-nation DUI law.

digicomphoto via www.istockphoto.com

More transparency could be coming to Utah jails and prisons with a bill that would require them to report all in-custody deaths to the state. 

Erik Neumann / KUER

Carbon County has some of the highest rates of opioid overdoses and death by suicide in the state. This week the Southeast Utah Health Department held a conference in Price to talk about it. Organizers called it the HOPE Summit.

KUER

Americans love their national parks. But the agency that oversees them, the National Park Service, is facing budget cuts. And, worse, they’re $12 billion behind on a growing to-do list that includes repairing guard rails on steep cliffs and replacing broken campsite toilets. Their solution? Higher entrance fees. But KUER's Judy Fahys explains it's not that simple.

Original Story: http://kuer.org/post/looking-fixes-national-park-fans-worry-fees-will-climb-12b-do-list-wont-go-down#stream/0

Austen Diamond / KUER

The state will have more than half a billion dollars extra to spend this year. Lawmakers learned Wednesday afternoon that they’ll have a large budget surplus of more than $563 million.

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Gov. Gary Herbert has ordered a state review of protocols regarding school lockdowns following the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting, but is not proposing any new legislation to stem gun violence — pointing instead to societal factors that could be to blame.

Austen Diamond / KUER

Utah’s TV stations could lose some authority to impose non-compete agreements on their employees under a bill approved by lawmakers Wednesday.

Pool photo/Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says he might sign a bill to repeal the death penalty if it passes the legislature-a huge pivot for Herbert, who previously supported capital punishment.

Whittney Evans/KUER

House Speaker Greg Hughes is throwing his weight behind a bill to abolish the death penalty in Utah. He’ll be working over the coming weeks to sway his GOP colleagues.

Nicole Nixon / KUER

Suicide is now the leading cause of death for Utahns aged 10 to 17. After learning that 44 teenagers in Utah died by suicide last year, Gov. Gary Herbert formed a special task force last month.

Austen Diamond / KUER

The Utah Legislature is losing one of the most vocal and outspoken members of its minority caucus. Democratic Sen. Jim Dabakis announced Tuesday he won’t seek re-election at the end of his term this year.

Kelsie Moore / KUER

President Trump has endorsed Mitt Romney for Utah’s open Senate seat. Trump tweeted his support Monday night and called Romney a “worthy successor” to outgoing Sen. Orrin Hatch.

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In our series Hive Mind, listeners ask questions about different topics and KUER reporters try to answer them. This week you asked-how much affordable housing is acceptable and who decides it?

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Utah lawmakers seem ready to waive the fee for inspecting EnergySolutions radioactive landfill. A bill to do that — at the top of the list of legislation that Senators could vote on this week — would have taxpayers covering inspection fees for one of the state’s most generous campaign donors, EnergySolutions.

Austen Diamond / KUER

A bill coming up for debate would make Utah the first state in the nation to allow residents to buy prescription drugs from Canada for less than they cost in the U.S. It’s getting pushback from pharmaceutical companies.

Julia Ritchey / KUER

An ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter says she has received a letter of apology from Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican who defended his former aide from ``a vile attack'' after two ex-wives accused Porter of domestic abuse.

Nicole Nixon / KUER

Many Utahns were excited when Mitt Romney finally made his candidacy for the seat currently held by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch official. Ogden resident Paul Henstrom, who voted for Romney for president in 2012, hopes he can be a bridge in a deeply divided Congress. 

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The president of Utah State University, Noelle Cockett, held an early morning meeting with students in the music department on Friday. She acknowledged allegations of sexual assault that surfaced online this week involving music faculty and promised an investigation is underway.

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This week lawmakers paused to honor the 17 lives lost in a school shooting in Parkland, Fla. But the latest school violence is unlikely to persuade Republican leaders to propose any big changes to gun laws this session. Meanwhile, a committee finally approved something close to a resolution acknowledging climate change without actually using the phrase "climate change." We also talk about some air quality bills and medical marijuana. Rep. Steve Eliason joins us on 'Better Know A Lawmaker' and explains how he's tackling Utah's youth suicide problem. 

Julia Ritchey / KUER

Drones were brought into Gettysburg. A pregnant elk was poached in Zion National Park. And in Yellowstone, commercial snowmobile tour guides encouraged other riders to pass the legal boundary and get up close to the geyser, Old Faithful.

Kelsie Moore / KUER

Mitt Romney launched his political comeback on Friday, announcing a widely anticipated run for Utah's Senate seat. 

Pool Photo / Salt Lake Tribune

Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday he’s working with Utah lawmakers on a bill that would ban abortions of a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome. Legislative attorneys have flagged the bill, saying if it passes, it would likely face a legal challenge.

Julia Ritchey / KUER

Utah lawmakers aren’t poised to make any sweeping changes to gun laws in the wake of another fatal school shooting in the U.S.

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President Trump’s former staff secretary Rob Porter has been all over the news since he resigned from the White House last week. Porter, a Mormon, left his position after his two ex-wives accused him of being physically abusive. It has since been revealed that both of these women confided in their Mormon bishops about the abuse and were encouraged to remain in their relationships.

Courtesy: Elizabeth Hansen

High-school students have been pushing Utah lawmakers for climate action in Utah for more than a year. And, on Thursday, a legislative panel voted to advance a climate-change resolution they helped to draft.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

President Trump is speaking for the first time about the shooting at a high school in South Florida that left at least 17 people dead

When Your Senator Blocks You

Feb 15, 2018
KUER

These days it’s perfectly normal for lawmakers at the state and federal level to be on Twitter. President Trump, of course, tweets frequently. And Utah’s representatives are no different. Local lawmakers Todd Weiler and Jim Dabakis are both Twitter users with lots of followers. But what does it mean when a politician blocks someone on social media? Should that even be allowed to happen? KUER’s Julia Ritchey joins Doug Fabrizio to talk about it.

Original story: http://kuer.org/post/when-online-civility-tested-lawmakers-hit-block-button

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