Whittney Evans | KUER 90.1

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. 

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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. 

The Dixie State College Board of Trustees is meeting today to decide what the school should be called when its status changes from a college to a university this year.  As part of their decision, the trustees will consider a recent controversy over what some say are racial connotations surrounding the name “Dixie” and whether or not the word should remain in the new name. 

KUER's Election 2012 Recap

Nov 5, 2012

Utah Governor

Republican Gary Herbert secured his second term in office last night, breezing past Democrat Peter Cooke by more than 36,000 votes.

Just before 11 pm, General Peter Cooke arrived unexpectedly at GOP headquarters to congratulate Governor Gary Herbert on his win. Cooke said he tried calling the governor first but he didn’t pick up. Cooke later returned to the Democratic headquarters to concede, saying Utahns need to continue fighting for education.

Emotions are running high in Millcreek Township, as residents make final appeals to voters who are undecided on whether or not to become a city. This morning residents who oppose incorporation gathered near a street corner on 2300 east to address some looming financial problems they see with the proposal. But they weren’t alone, as residents who support it gathered close by. 

Salt Lake City residents will now find it easier to recycle their glass waste thanks to a new curbside glass recycling program that begins next month.

The program will at first only serve residents who live between State Street and 2100 east. Bins will be delivered in the next couple of weeks before the first scheduled collection on November 1. Next spring, it will expand to anyone who lives in Salt Lake City.

Some residents in Millcreek township say they lack a voice in many policy decisions and pay Salt Lake County too much for police and fire services. But others say the county is doing a good job of keeping taxes low and providing adequate representation. In the last two decades residents of Cottonwood Heights and Holladay decided to incororate. Now voters in Millcreek will decide if their community should do the same.

Salt Lake City’s Downtown Alliance is trying to calm public concern that The Gateway shopping center will close down now that City Creek Center is open.

This week some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are gathering at the Democratic National Convention to participate as an organized caucus. According to the Pew Research Center nearly three quarters of all Mormons in the country side with the Republican Party, but LDS Democrats hope their numbers will increase this week.

Crystal Young-Otterstrom  was at home last week getting ready for a trip to Charlotte while her young daughter Betty rocked side to side in a laundry basket behind her.

Utah Congressman Jim Matheson spoke out today against his opponent Mia Love’s support for downsizing or abolishing the U-S Department of Education. The Democratic incumbent held a press conference at Salt Lake Community College.

Matheson brought along two University of Utah students to speak about the importance of college grants and loans, which come from the U-S Department of Education. The congressman told the crowd that if Mia Love had her way, those federal programs would cease to exist.

Senator Orrin Hatch was absent from last night’s U.S. Senate Debate in Bountiful, where Democratic Candidate Scott Howell challenged the 36 year incumbent to defend his record.

Howell, Independent Senate Candidate Bill Barron, Constitution party candidate Shaun McCausland debated social security reform, the nation’s debt ceiling and a constitutional amendment requiring congress to pass a budget, and trade. McCausland argued the U.S. can easily avoid outsourcing jobs caused by free trade policies.

Clarissa Blakmer
Whittney Evans

Utah lawmakers are faced with a big decision: to expand or not to expand the Medicaid program. But what do we know about the program? What do people in Utah think they know about the program? And what is life like for those getting help from the program have been transformed by Medicaid?  In part one of our series The Future of Medicaid in Utah, we set out to answer these and other important questions.

“Older people, freebies, handout’s,” says Salt Lake City resident Jeff Steal.

But Steal might have a bit of a simplistic view of the program.

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