Whittney Evans

Reporter

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West. 

Ways to Connect

Utah Governor Gary Herbert has vetoed HB 76, a bill that would allow any Utahn over the age of 21 to carry a concealed firearm without a permit unless the weapon has a round in the chamber. Now it’s up to Utah lawmakers to decide if they want to overrule the governor’s decision.  

Governor Herbert says he vetoed HB 76 because Utah’s current gun laws have served the state well and have become a model for the nation.

“So that’s a reason why if it ain’t broke don’t fix it," Herbert says.

Utah Transit Authority is set for the grand opening of the Salt Lake Regional Airport TRAX line next month, but before riders can climb aboard law enforcement and emergency management personnel are performing some exercises to prepare for a crisis situation.

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Kane County and the state of Utah have regained ownership of several back-country roads that cross federal land. A federal judge granted the state and county title to 12 of 15 roads being contested in a legal dispute with the Interior department and Bureau of Land Management. 

Utah Attorney General John Swallow says the decision proves the state of Utah and 22 of 29 Utah counties involved in the lawsuit are not just barking in the wind.

The Salt Lake City Council is clashing over where the Sugar House Streetcar will end. The council debated several options last night during a scheduled work session. 

Salt Lake County is expanding its small business loan program with some financial backing from commercial banks. The fund supplies higher interest loans to businesses that would be otherwise ineligible for traditional bank loans.  

Democratic State Lawmakers say they’re pleased the legislature passed a budget that fully funded growth in enrollment and boosted per-pupil spending but Utah residents are ready to invest more in public schools.

The final budget provides additional funding for roughly 13,000 new students and increases per pupil spending by 2 percent; enough to help school districts pay for the increased cost of employee benefits, but not enough for teacher pay raises. Lawmakers also appropriated ongoing money for extended-day kindergarten and dual language programs.

The Utah Legislature gave final approval to a bill that would collect personal information from women seeking abortions and make it available to state agencies. 

The Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act permits states to opt out of the law's Medicaid expansion, and that’s what Utah House lawmakers aim to do with House Bill 391. The bill would ban Utah’s governor and the Department of Health from expanding the Medicaid program. It passed the Utah House of Representatives this morning and now heads to the Senate where it faces opposition from leadership. 

Last month, when Utah Mom’s for Clean Air petitioned Governor Gary Herbert to take action on Utah’s poor air quality, his office responded by asking the group to come back with possible solutions. Friday, the group delivered that plan, which includes putting a price tag on air pollution. 

Cherise Udell is President and Founder of Utah Mom’s for Clean Air. She called the Airshed User Fee the most innovative idea in the plan. It’s a tax on the six specific pollutants regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency including particulate matter.

Utah lawmakers have given preliminary approval to state-wide housing and workplace protections for gays and lesbians. Last night, members of the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services committee advanced the bill. It’s the first time a statewide non-discrimination measure has survived a committee hearing in Utah.

Republican Senator Steve Urquhart sponsored Senate Bill 262. He told the committee the basic principle behind the bill is straightforward.

A bill that would require some out of state internet retailers to collect sales tax from Utah customers narrowly passed the UTAH Senate  this morning. But if SB 226 becomes law it could be challenged by the Justice Department.

Federal law prohibits Utah from collecting sales tax from online businesses unless they have an office or storefront in the state. SB 226 would expand the rule to include remote retailers who use local advertisements or forge other local agreements.

Every year thousands of Utahns wonder how they’re going to pay for college. Whether they’re high school seniors, returning members of the military or single moms and dads looking for a new opportunity, the financial obligations that come with a college degree are usually the biggest obstacle. KUER explores the unique struggles of Utah students to overcome the escalating cost of college. It’s part of our look this week at The Future of Higher Education.

A bill that would allow anyone 21 years of age or older to carry a concealed weapon was amended and passed on the house floor today.

The number of young people in Utah who are going to jail is declining according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s National Kid’s Count Project.  The report shows the decline is about on pace with the majority of the United States. But the progress could be cut short because of budget cuts.

Utah lawmakers are hoping to bring in millions of additional tax dollars from online retailers, but a bill being proposed might be in conflict with the U-S Constitution. Federal law currently allows the state to collect taxes from online retailers as long as they have a physical location in that state, like a store or distribution warehouse. Senate Bill 226, sponsored by Republican Senator Wayne Harper would empower Utah to collect taxes from some out-of-state online retailers.

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman announced his support  yesterday for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the latest edition of The American Conservative magazine.

In the Op-Ed, Huntsman called on all Republicans to support marriage equality saying [quote] “Building a winning coalition to tackle the looming fiscal and trust deficits will be impossible if we continue to alienate broad segments of the population.”

State Lawmakers considered a handful of firearms bills in committees on Wednesday. About half of the measures reinforce the status quo or make guns more available to Utahns. One bill in particular was met with heated debate.

Utah lawmakers are reportedly working with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and social rights groups to help pass a statewide law protecting gays and lesbians from housing and employment discrimination.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert told reporters Tuesday he’s not involved in the discussions but will consider the bill.

A bill extending protection to victims of dating violence advanced in the Utah house today. HB 50, sponsored by Minority Leader Jennifer Seelig was met with heated opposition on the house floor. 

More than a dozen non-profit groups working to end violence against women and girls gathered at the state capitol this morning to bring focus to a harrowing United Nation's statistic; 1 in 3 women in the world will be raped or beaten in their lifetime. The gathering was part of the One Billion Rising anti-violence movement led by Eve Ensler, Author of the Vagina Monologues. 

Utahns are well-acquainted with the dirty air lurking beyond their front doors in a winter inversion or summer ozone day.  A long string of unhealthy air days this winter has many residents saying "enough". Today KUER News and RadioWest begin “Clearing the Air,” a special series aimed at exploring the problem of Utah’s poor air quality and ways to improve it.  One of the contributing factors is car emissions, but is public transit a viable option for those living on the Wasatch Front? Can people use their cars less without compromising their lifestyle? 

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams promised a leaner, more accountable county government this morning in his first state of the county address.

McAdams said a growing population is one of the county’s greatest challenges, pointing to poor air quality, congested roads and lack of adequate funding for public education.

“We must decide whether we will be shaped by our challenges or whether we will seize this as an opportunity to shape our future," McAdams said.

Salt Lake City is inviting the public to come up with a name for a new mid-block street between the Salt Lake City public library and the new public safety building.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker joined the city’s police and fire chiefs and the new community and economic development director outside the city Library to announce the opening of a contest to name the street. Anyone interested in pitching an idea can go to the public safety building page of the city’s website. Becker says the possibilities are limitless.

After losing out on a contract with Salt Lake City to provide taxi cab service to and from the Salt Lake City International Airport, Yellow Cab taxi service is calling for the city to increase the company’s cab rates. But the Department of Airports, which is responsible for recommending rate changes to the Salt Lake City Council, says the request will not be granted.

Republican Senator Howard Stephenson wants local schools to have more control over where they spend their money. The Draper lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would require school districts distribute education dollars directly to schools; giving principals control over how it’s spent. But state education leaders say there are problems with the measure. 

Utah courts are becoming stronger, more efficient and more transparent according to newly-appointed Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant. Durrant gave the annual State of the Judiciary to lawmakers this afternoon on day one of the 2013 legislative session. 

Chief Justice Durrant touted the high court's ability to handle a 10 percent cut in staff during the recession. In the face of reductions, the court system was able to reduce the age of pending cases by 34 percent, meaning cases are being resolved faster.

This week a group of Utah physicians demanded a moratorium on mass transit fares for the remainder of the winter season, joining thousands of Utah residents who continually point to Utah Transit Authority as the key to the regions poor air quality. But UTA says the only way to realize increased ridership is to expand service, which can’t be done in the face of lost revenue. 

Most Utah voters are willing to raise taxes to pay for public education. That’s according to an annual study gathered by Dan Jones and Associates, the University of Utah Center for Public Policy and Administration and The Exoro group.

A spokeswoman for Utah Governor Gary Herbert says the governor disagrees with dozens of Utah Doctors who say the region’s current air pollution levels are causing a public healthcare emergency.  A group of physicians hand-delivered a letter to the Governor’s office Wednesday afternoon, asking him to take prompt action to address poor air quality along the Wasatch Front and in Cache Valley.

2013 is the year of the bike for Salt Lake City. That's one commitment Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker outlined in his annual state of the city address last night. 

Pages