Andrea Smardon


Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World.  Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and  Prior to that, she worked at Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW.  Andrea’s stories cover the local to the global - from controversial school committee votes to dissident Burmese hip hop artists.  She holds a Bachelors degree in English and Music from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.  Andrea says she misses the ocean, but is happy to be surrounded by mountains.

Ways To Connect

Brian Grimmett

The Zion Curtain  - the barrier shielding restaurant customers form the preparation of alcoholic beverages - will stand this year, despite attempts by state House members to tear it down.  But some changes to alcohol laws did pass, including the ability for restaurant chains to get a single master liquor license. 

Wednesday night, the Utah Senate guaranteed that Governor Gary Herbert will play a key role in deciding if the state will expand its Medicaid program. Lawmakers in both chambers approved  a substitute bill that now sets guidelines for how the Governor will make his decision.

Andrea Smardon

Utah physicians declared a public health emergency in the middle of a particularly bad air pollution season this year, pointing to spikes in ER visits, respiratory and cardiovascular episodes, and even deaths.  Governor Gary Herbert declined to declare an emergency and says that some activists are exaggerating the problem. In the final story in our series of reports on Clearing the Air, KUER looks at what we know and don’t know about the health effects of Utah’s air pollution. 

The University of Utah is starting a new center to study air pollution and its impacts on health and society.  The U hosted a retreat Monday, bringing academics together to talk about what they have to contribute and how they can collaborate. 

Democratic Utah Congressman Jim Matheson says sequestration or sweeping federal budget cuts that went into effect Friday are a collective failure of Congressional leadership in both parties. 

Representative Matheson says everyone in Congress agrees that 85 billion dollars of spending needs to be cut from the federal budget, but he says sequestration is not the way to do it. 

A state Senate committee voted Wednesday to push back the start date for Utah’s guest worker program by two years to give Congress a chance to work on comprehensive immigration reform.  

Utah’s guest worker program was set to go into effect this July, but Republican Senator Curt Bramble of Provo introduced Senate Bill 225 to postpone the implementation until 2015.  Bramble told the Senate Business and Labor committee that Utah’s guest worker law was designed to pressure the federal government into reforming immigration policy.

The Utah House of Representatives voted Monday to allow restaurant patrons to order drinks before ordering food.  House Bill 218 would also make more liquor permits available for certain types of dining establishments. 

Under current statute, restaurant customers are required to order food if they want to order an alcoholic drink.  If they don’t, the restaurant may be fined 500 dollars, which happened to several Utah establishments recently.  Republican Gage Froerer of Huntsville says his bill will clarify the state’s policy and prevent future fines.

Andrea Smardon

The U.S. Supreme Court is receiving briefs from all over the country as it prepares to take up same sex marriage next month, including Utah.  The Court will hear arguments in two cases concerning the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.  The Utah Pride Center plans to file an amicus brief to the nation’s highest court this week, arguing that laws that ban same sex marriage amount to discrimination.  But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Utah’s Attorney General have filed their own briefs in defense of traditional marriage and states’ rights to decide. 

Utah Republican Party leaders decided to table a discussion about a scandal affecting Attorney General John Swallow over the weekend.  Swallow is being investigated by the US Attorney’s Office for allegedly helping business man Jeremy Johnson bribe US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Members of the GOP State Central Committee voted against holding a formal discussion on the issue, though some say it’s one of the most important issues facing the party. 

Andrea Smardon

Arguments over Utah’s immigration enforcement law were heard in US District Court Friday.  It was the first hearing on the law in about a year.  Judge Clark Waddoups was waiting to rule on the constitutionality of HB 497 until after the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on Arizona’s enforcement-only law. 

Cecillia Wang is Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights Project, and a lawyer in the case against HB 497.  Standing outside the US District Court in Salt Lake City after the hearing, Wang said the tide is turning in their favor. 

Andrea Smardon

Some Utah couples marked Valentine’s Day with flowers, some even tied the knot, but some gay and lesbian couples in Salt Lake County chose the occasion to bring attention to the fact that they don’t have the right to marry.  Same-sex couples submitted applications for marriage licenses Thursday, knowing that they would be turned away. 

A new report shows that Utah’s economy would benefit from an expansion of Medicaid, creating thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity. 

The report comes from the national nonprofit organization Families USA and Utah Health Policy Project.  UHPP Director Judi Hilman told KUER an expansion of Medicaid will allow millions of federal dollars to flow into Utah, stimulating the economy.

Accountants are urging the state to prepare for an economic crisis brought on by national debt. Conservative Utah lawmakers responded Tuesday by announcing legislation to assess the risks and develop contingency plans if federal funds disappear. 

After considerable debate Monday, the state House of Representatives approved legislation making it illegal for Utah drivers to smoke in their cars if they have a child as a passenger. The debate centered not around the effects of second hand smoke, but on the role of government in our lives.

The bill would make it a secondary offense to smoke while driving with someone under 16 years old. Democratic sponsor Patrice Arent argued that it’s lawmakers’ responsibility to protect children from harm.  

Andrea Smardon

When Utahns file their state taxes this year, they can also donate to help the homeless.  The Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund Tax Campaign was officially launched at Saint Vincent De Paul dining hall in Salt Lake City Friday.

“This project can have a huge impact,” said Pamela Atkinson, a long-time advocate for the homeless, “Every dollar that comes in, it means we can leverage that dollar and get private funds also, but it also means that we’re able to deliver these services for all of our homeless friends.”

Andrea Smardon

A bill that would mandate insurance coverage of autism testing and treatment in Utah will advance to the floor of the state Senate.  The Senate Business and Labor Committee approved the bill 5-2 Thursday, despite lawmakers concerns that the bill would not only cost taxpayer money, but would also drive up health insurance premiums. 

Andrea Smardon

Utah citizens and activists gathered on the steps of the Capitol Wednesday to demand action to clean up the state’s polluted air.  The rally was part of a grassroots effort, including a Facebook campaign and petition.

University of Utah student Carl Ingwell started the Facebook campaign, urging people to inundate the Utah governor’s office with calls and e-mails, demanding action. His campaign led him to the steps of the Capitol, speaking to about 150 concerned citizens.

Most strategies to reduce air pollution in northern Utah focus on emissions from cars and industry, but the state’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is targeting another source of pollution – the products in our bathroom cupboards, cleaning closets, and garage shelves.  The DAQ board will consider a new rule Wednesday that would regulate consumer products containing volatile organic compounds. 

Andrea Smardon

Healthcare advocates converged on the Capitol Friday to encourage lawmakers to expand Medicaid to more low income residents, but state lawmakers held off on debate for now, and said the Governor will have to make the decision. 

Family physician Ray Ward kicked off the meeting of the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee with an impassioned plea for the expansion of Medicaid to cover an estimated 145,000 more low-income Utahns.

Andrea Smardon

Entrepreneur Jim Sorenson has given the University of Utah $13 million to create a one-of-a-kind global impact investing center.  The Center will be part of the U’s David Eccles School of Business and will provide students with training and experience in social entrepreneurship. 

For Jim Sorenson, impact investing means doing good while doing well.  

Utah’s Governor has declared today, January 30th, Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties. Korematsu was a Japanese American who was interned against his will in the Central Utah War Relocation Center in Topaz during World War II.  President of the Topaz Museum Board Jane Beckwith talks about Korematsu’s fight for civil liberties.

Andrea Smardon

State House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart opened this year’s legislative session by calling on Utah to become less reliant on federal dollars.

Lockhart told House members that gridlock in Congress has a direct and immediate effect on Utah.

“It’s become increasingly apparent that the action or inaction of the federal government profoundly influences our success. We must have or implement a plan to get the state of Utah less reliant on federal revenue,” said Lockhart.

Andrea Smardon

Clean air advocates filed a legal challenge last week against the US Environmental Protection Agency, claiming a new policy allows some coal-fired power plants to continue releasing haze-causing pollutants in Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.  Environmental organization HEAL Utah was one of the groups who filed the challenge with the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. 

Andrea Smardon

Former Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson was in Salt Lake City today.  The Baptist minister and civil rights activist delivered the keynote address for the University of Utah’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations.   Before his address, Jackson argued that the U would benefit from a more multicultural student body. 

Tonia Torrence

The Salt Lake City Council is reconsidering an ordinance which penalizes residents if they fail to clear snow and ice off their sidewalks.  The Council discussed the issue at their meeting Tuesday after several council members received warnings that their own walkways were not sufficiently clear. 

Tonia Torrence came back from a trip in early January to find a citation in her mailbox.  She had been fined 50 dollars for not clearing her sidewalk of snow and ice.

In the future, Utahns may no longer need a permit to carry a concealed weapon.   Republican Representative John Mathis of Vernal has filed legislation that would amend Utah’s gun laws, essentially eliminating the need for a concealed weapons permit. 

Governor Gary Herbert signed a declaration today honoring Japanese American Fred Korematsu - who was interned in the Central Utah War Relocation Center in Topaz, appealed his conviction, and fought for civil liberties for all Americans. 

Korematsu was born and raised in Oakland, California, but was placed in the Topaz internment camp during World War Two.  Governor Gary Herbert said his legacy ought to be remembered in Utah.   

Andrea Smardon

The Utah Department of Health says human error caused the most recent data breach, where the personal information of 6000 Medicaid clients was lost on a thumb drive. 

The mistake was made by an employee of a third-party contractor, Goold Health Systems, which processes pharmacy claims for Utah’s Medicaid program. State Health Department spokesman Tom Hudachko said the employee should never have downloaded data onto an unencrypted thumb drive. 

South Carolina Army drill sergeant Terry Achane thought he would be reunited with his 2-year-old daughter in Provo Wednesday, but it didn’t turn out that way.  The Utah Supreme Court put a temporary hold on a lower court judge’s order giving Achane custody of his daughter. 

Achane’s daughter Teleah was placed for adoption at birth without his consent or knowledge.  After months of litigation, Achane’s attorney Mark Wiser says his client was en route to Provo for a hearing in 4th District Court where he expected to finally gain custody of his daughter.


Salt Lake City nuclear waste company EnergySolutions announced Monday that it will be acquired by private equity firm Energy Capital Partners.  But numerous parties are questioning the deal, including HEAL Utah.   The environmental organization's Policy Director Matt Pacenza told KUER that he is wary about a private equity firm managing nuclear waste.