Andrea Smardon

Reporter

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 Boston.com.  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.

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Politics
4:03 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Matheson Says Both Parties to Blame for Sequestration

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. 

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Business & Labor
5:40 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Proposal to Delay Guest Worker Law Heads to Senate

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.

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Business & Labor
4:57 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Utah House Approves of Drinking Alcohol Before Ordering Food and other Changes to Liquor Laws

HB218 would create more liquor licenses for dining clubs such as Market Street Oyster Bar (pictured) in Salt Lake City.

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.

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KUER Local News
5:44 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

For Better or Worse, Utah Weighs in on Same-Sex Marriage

Utah Pride Center Executive Director Valerie Larabee is hopeful that same-sex couples will be able to marry in Utah.
Andrea Smardon

Hear the full report.

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. 

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Politics
3:55 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

GOP Leaders Decide Not to Discuss Swallow Scandal

Utah Attorney General John Swallow

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. 

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Public Safety
4:56 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

With Arizona in Mind, Utah’s Immigration Enforcement Law has Court Hearing

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. 

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KUER Local News
9:23 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Same-Sex Couples Apply for Marriage Licenses in Salt Lake City

Same-sex couples stand in line to apply for marriage licenses at the Salt Lake County Clerk's office. (February 14, 2013)
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. 

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Health Care
5:06 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Report Shows Medicaid Expansion Would Create Jobs, Stimulate Utah Economy

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.

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Politics
9:54 am
Wed February 13, 2013

Utah Accountants and Conservative Lawmakers Pull the “Financial Fire Alarm”

State Representative Ken Ivory (R-West Jordan) speaking about what he calls a coming financial crisis. (February 12, 2013)

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. 

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Public Safety
10:56 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Bill Banning Smoking in Cars with Children Sparks Debate

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.  

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KUER Local News
5:18 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

State Launches Campaign to Help the Homeless through Tax Returns

Governor Gary Herbert demonstrates how to donate to the homeless on state tax returns with homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson. (February 8, 2013)
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.”

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Health Care
9:34 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Autism Insurance Mandate to be Considered by State Senate

Senator Brian Shiozawa talks to autism advocates before a meeting of the Senate Business and Labor Committee. (February 7, 2013)
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. 

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Environment & Public Lands
8:51 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Citizens Demand Action on Air Pollution

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.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:45 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Utah Looks in Bathroom Cupboards to Reduce Air Pollution

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. 

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Health Care
4:23 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Advocates Make the Case for Medicaid Expansion, Lawmakers Say it’s Governor’s Decision

Louis Fazio argues in favor of expanding Medicaid at a meeting of the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee.
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.

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Business & Labor
5:02 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Students to Tackle Social Change at the U’s New Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing

Entrepreneur Jim Sorenson in his office in Salt Lake City
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.  

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KUER Local News
10:09 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Topaz Internee Fred Korematsu Remembered in Utah

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.

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Politics
4:47 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

State House Speaker Calls for Plan to Wean Utah Off Federal Dollars

New members of the Utah House of Representatives are sworn into office on the first day of the 2013 legislative session.
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.

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Environment & Public Lands
9:49 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Local Clean Air Advocates Challenge EPA

Arches National Park
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. 

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Education
4:51 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Jesse Jackson Says Multicultural Education Essential for Utahns

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. 

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Public Safety
5:35 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Salt Lake Reconsiders Snow Removal Ordinance

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.

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Public Safety
4:36 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

House Bill 76 Would Allow Utahns to Carry a Concealed Weapon without a Permit

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. 

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KUER Local News
5:05 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

Utah Governor Honors Topaz Internee Fred Korematsu

Fred Korematsu (January 30, 1919 – March 30, 2005)

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.   

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Health Care
4:49 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Despite Efforts to Improve Security, Utah’s Medicaid Data is Breached Again

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. 

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KUER Local News
5:13 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Utah Supreme Court Holds Off on Returning Adopted Girl to Father

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.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:57 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Environmentalists Wary of EnergySolutions Acquisition

A truck unloads shipments of Class A low-level waste at EnergySolutions’ Clive facility.
EnergySolutions

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. 

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Health Care
4:38 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Utah Lawmakers May Consider a Partnership Health Exchange

Representative James Dunnigan (R-Taylorsville) says he is in favor of a partnership exchange, where Utah continues to run Avenue H for small businesses, but the federal government provides an insurance marketplace for individuals.

Federal officials have given preliminary approval for Utah to run its own health insurance exchange marketplace, but some state lawmakers say they don’t want to run the exchange under the feds’ rules. 

Earlier this week, US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Utah officials that the state’s Avenue H exchange could be approved by the federal government if it meets certain requirements by October.  Republican Representative Jim Dunnigan is chair of Utah’s Health System Reform Task Force.  He says the feds are not giving Utah the flexibility that it requested.

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Health Care
3:36 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Utah's Avenue H Gets Conditional Approval from Feds

The federal government has conditionally approved Utah’s health insurance exchange known as Avenue H.  But the feds say more work needs to be done for the state-based exchange to be compliant with the Affordable Care Act. 

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius praised Utah for making "significant progress" with its online insurance marketplace.  She says she’s confident Avenue H will be federally compliant by the deadline of October this year.  In a conference call, federal health administrator Gary Cohen essentially put the ball in Utah’s court.

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Business & Labor
4:51 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Utahns to Lose Unemployment Benefits if Congress Doesn't Act

While Congress works to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, there is another deadline looming.  Emergency unemployment insurance benefits are set to expire Saturday unless Congress acts.  The US Department of Labor estimates this will impact over 2 million Americans, including about 4100 Utahns. 

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KUER Local News
4:21 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Ruling on Utah Birth Father’s Rights in Adoption Case Expected Soon

Attorney Wesley Hutchins and client Jake Strickland at the Farmington Courthouse, December 19, 2012.
Andrea Smardon

A ruling is expected shortly in the case of Jake Strickland - a Utah father who has been trying for almost two years to gain custody of his child.  Strickland’s son Jack was put up for adoption by the child’s mother.  2nd District Judge David Hamilton held a hearing in the case Wednesday, and said he would deliver a ruling soon.  

Jake Strickland told KUER he wants an answer.

“It feels like it’s dragging on and on and right now, I don’t see an end to it,” said Strickland, “but as long as I have to keep fighting I will.”

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