Federal workers and furloughed employees are holding a rally Thursday at the Ogden Federal Building to protest the government shutdown. Ogden-Clearfield is one of the top 10 metro areas in the country affected by the furloughs. Hill Air Force Base is Utah's largest employer with some 25,000 federal employees and contractors.
The federal government shutdown is delaying and even stopping some lenders from finalizing home loans. With the Internal Revenue Service closed for business, lenders are unable to obtain borrowers tax transcripts, which is a vital step in approving a mortgage. The US Department of Agriculture, which processes rural home loans is closed as well.
Babs De Lay is the principal broker and owner of Urban Utah Homes and Estates. She says lenders, buyers and sellers are panicked.
The federal health insurance exchange opened for business Tuesday, and state regulators have revealed the rates that Utahns have to choose from. In Salt Lake and Davis Counties, there is one insurer who has lower price plans than the rest. But insurance experts say consumers should look at more than just monthly premiums when making their choice.
In spite of a government shutdown, today begins the six month-long enrollment period in which consumers can start signing up for health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. This morning at the Sorenson Unity Center the Salt Lake City mayor’s office and Voices for Utah Children hosted a health care open house to help people navigate the various plans and sign up for coverage.
Jose Caceres, a certified application councilor is walking a middle-aged man and his mother through the process of choosing a health insurance plan.
The federally funded Women, Infants, and Children program, or WIC, is among the long list of services and benefits that are no longer available because of the government shut down. But what does that mean for Utahns?
The government shutdown is already having a big impact on businesses that serve visitors in rural Utah – and on local governments.
Garfield County depends on tourism for 70-percent of its annual revenue – mostly from visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park. With the park closed, Commissioner Leland Pollock is hoping visitors won’t cancel their trips – and he says the shutdown underscores the conflict with federal authorities over roads across public land.
As activists and community members step up the pressure to shut down a North Salt Lake medical waste incinerator, Stericycle officials are denying the company violated emissions limits or rigged stack test results. They are challenging a list of citations filed by Utah regulators against the company's incinerator. That means the beginning of a legal process that could take months.
As the clock ticks down on a possible shutdown of the federal government, Utah’s tourist industry is already hearing from worried visitors.
Visitors to Utah’s five national parks could encounter locked gates if the government shuts down because Congress can’t agree on a funding bill. Marian DeLay, the head of the Moab Travel Council, says foreign tourists in particular are telling Moab businesses they don’t want to get to Utah and find the parks closed.
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich was in North Salt Lake City over the weekend to join the fight against Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator. Brockovich is lending her celebrity status and investigatory resources to community members who want the incinerator out of their neighborhood. Brockovich says she came to North Salt Lake because concerned mothers asked her to.
Open enrollment for the new health exchange marketplace starts October 1st, and Utahns will have a variety of options for health insurance. Among the choices is a new insurance provider called Arches Health Plan. Arches is a non-profit cooperative governed by its members. Joining KUER in studio is the CEO Linn Baker, who has a long history with healthcare in Utah. He was founder and executive of the state’s Public Employee's Health Program for more than three decades.
More public school students in Utah are taking advanced placement exams; and they did better on those tests this year than last. According to the latest data from the College Board, the organization that develops and administers standardized tests, Utah participation rates increased about 8 percent in the 2012, 2013 school year. And there was a 7 percent increase in the number of exams with scores of 3, 4, or 5. Those scores translate to college credit for some colleges and universities.
The Salt Lake City Council will not ban horse-drawn carriage rides downtown. Nor do they have plans to tighten restrictions on the business any time soon. Last month, when a horse named Jerry collapsed downtown and later died, animal rights groups and some Salt Lake City residents urged the council to limit the use of carriages. Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke brought an ordinance proposal to the council Tuesday night that would have created a strict route for carriages and put a cap on the number of hours horses could work among other regulations.
Pat Mulroy, the long-time head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, announced her plans to retire this week. She’s been a strong proponent of the plan to pump groundwater from the Great Basin to Las Vegas. But she also suggested in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun that the project wouldn’t be necessary if Nevada could work out a deal with states such as Utah that hold water rights on the Colorado River.
In the past, women have not been welcome at the priesthood session that is part of the general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But the group Ordain Women is trying to change that. Its leaders sent a letter to the church asking for 150 tickets for women to attend the session scheduled for October 5th.
The Ogden City School Board agreed last week to extend Superintendent Brad Smith’s contract for another two years. Under the new contract, Smith, who earns $120,000 per year, is offered an additional $6,000 in potential bonuses, contingent upon his performance over the next year. Jennifer Zundel is Vice President of the Ogden School Board. She says most district superintendents in Utah earn upwards of $200,000 per year.
A hearing is underway this afternoon in federal court on a challenge to Kennecott’s plan to expand the Bingham Canyon copper mine. Representatives from Utah Moms for Clean Air, Wild Earth Guardians, the Sierra Club and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment all say Kennecott can’t move ahead with its expansion without approval from the Environmental Protection Agency. Doctor Brian Moench says that’s needed even though the Utah Division of Air Quality has already signed off on it.
The Consumer Attitude Index in Utah is at its highest point since Zions Bank created the tracking system three years ago. Randy Shumway of the Cicero Group says the CAI increased 4.3 points from August to September to 92.6. He says that’s a marked improvement over the decrease this month in the national Consumer Confidence Index of 2.1 points to 79.7. Shumway says the percentage of Utahns who think business conditions are normal or good jumped 5 percentage points to 91 percent on the diversity of the state’s economy.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new rules that would require new coal-fired power plants to capture carbon dioxide rather than sending it into the air. University of Utah Professor Brian McPherson, who’s worked on ways to “sequester” carbon dioxide, says that could raise the cost of new coal plants to the point they’re no longer practical. And he says the new rules give natural gas fired power plants an unfair advantage.
Steve Erickson is with a group promoting another alternative, the so-called “Shared Solution.” It would scrap the freeway and instead improve east-west routes across the county leading to FrontRunner and I-15.
The City of South Salt Lake has fewer parks and green space than most cities in Salt Lake County. That’s why South Salt Lake Mayor Cheri Wood says the city’s new playground is so important to her community. Wood says McCall Park, located at 3702 south 250 east was born out of an effort to get more kids into preschool. In the meantime, city officials discovered a large number of those young children lived nearby a detention basin. Wood says the city immediately began working to transform the basin into a playground, which is now called the McCall Tot Lot.
The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service has published a draft environmental assessment on its proposal to designate critical habitat for the Gunnison Sage Grouse in Utah and Colorado. The Gunnison grouse is a smaller and rarer cousin of the greater sage grouse that lives in most of the states of the Mountain West.
A battle over food stamps is coming to the floor of the U.S. House this week. Republican leaders are backing a bill that would cut $40 billion from the program, formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, over the next 10 years. At the same time a new study released by the Food Research and Action Center, shows that in the last four years, about one in four households in Utah with children struggle to afford food for their families. Utah is just below the national average by about 1 percent.
Gina Cornia is executive director of Utahns Against Hunger.
A group that wants to change Utah’s caucus-convention system for nominating candidates began its campaign this morning. Count My Vote wants to allow candidates to qualify for primary election ballots using petitions signed by voters.
The group’s leaders include former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt and Norma Matheson, the wife of Utah’s last Democratic governor and the mother of Congressman Jim Matheson. She says the current system leaves too many voters out of the nomination process.
Salt Lake City’s Attorney says it’s perfectly legal for an individual or a group that’s behind a citizen initiative to submit both the, for and against statements in the voter information packet that comes with a ballot. On Monday, it was revealed that an active member of the anti-corporate personhood group Move to Amend is the face behind the statement “against” a local opinion question the group posed to Salt Lake City voters this month through a mail-in ballot.