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45 Days

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We are live in Cedar City this week for a special recap of the 2018 legislative session. Joining Julia and Nicole on stage are three Utah lawmakers from the region: Rep. Walt Brooks of St. George, Rep. John Westwood of Cedar City and Sen. Don Ipson of St. George. What laws will have the biggest effect on southern Utah and how did the legislature tackle some of the critical issues facing it? This show was taped at Southern Utah University in partnership with the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service.

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That's a wrap! The Legislature passed 534 bills this session, just one bill shy of their record during the 2017 session, and left hundreds more behind. Here are the highlights, plus a conversation with Gov. Gary Herbert.

Austen Diamond / KUER

 

The 2018 Utah Legislature drew to a close on Thursday night, wrapping up their 45 day annual session with a $16.7 billion budget that increases funding for education, overhauls public transit and continues the fight against homelessness.

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Now, this is the story all about how Week 6 of the Legislature got flipped-turned upside down? Utah's beatboxing lawmakers are gearing up for their final spurt to the finish line with several big items still left on Republican leaders' to-do list. Notably, two proposals to add work requirements to Medicaid, the federal low-income health care program, are racing through the chambers as we speak. One lawmaker is also getting support for a last-minute bill to establish a "red flag" law to confiscate guns from people who pose a credible threat to public safety. The Legislature is also doing some Arnold Schwarzenegger-level flexing of power over a number of entities, including cities, the executive branch and — albeit unsuccessfully — the press. 

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Nothing in this world is certain but death and taxes, and legislators are tackling both in Week 5 of the session. This week we talk with reporter Whittney Evans about some surprise backers of a new death penalty repeal effort. We also look at the state's big budget surplus and try to divine what lawmakers might do with all that extra scratch. The Utah Legislature's bluest member Sen. Jim Dabakis announces he's done after this session, joining several other incumbents on their way out the door, like Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, our featured guest on 'Better Know a Lawmaker.'

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This week lawmakers paused to honor the 17 lives lost in a school shooting in Parkland, Fla. But the latest school violence is unlikely to persuade Republican leaders to propose any big changes to gun laws this session. Meanwhile, a committee finally approved something close to a resolution acknowledging climate change without actually using the phrase "climate change." We also talk about some air quality bills and medical marijuana. Rep. Steve Eliason joins us on 'Better Know A Lawmaker' and explains how he's tackling Utah's youth suicide problem. 

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Every legislative session a few bills pop up that generate a lot of buzz, but never quite make it to the finish line. For the last few years, that has been the case with proposed legislation to toughen the state's penalties for hate crimes. So what invisible forces propel some bills while squashing others? Some critics say it's the Mormon Church, whose membership includes almost 90 percent of the Utah Legislature. Others say their influence is overstated. And then there's Steve Urquhart, a former Republican state senator from St. George, who observed this phenomenon firsthand.

Renee Bright / KUER

Happy Winter Olympics! Utah misses you so. That's why lawmakers are eager to win them back by 2026 or 2030 — they've even passed a resolution that says as much. But who can think of the cold when things are heating up on Capitol Hill? The halls are feeling warmer than usual after a bombshell report by a British tabloid that a Republican state lawmaker paid for sex with an escort. That lawmaker, former Rep. Jon Stanard of St. George, resigned unexpectedly this week, just before the report came out. The fallout from the scandal continues to reverberate as the state carries on an investigation into his use of taxpayer money to carry out the alleged affair. Meanwhile, lots of bills continue forward.   

Renee Bright / KUER

It's week 2 at the Utah Legislature and we've already seen several big bills make their way through the House and Senate. On this week's episode, we discuss a few bills in direct conflict with two citizen-led ballot initiatives making their way to voters this fall. We're calling them "Ballot Busters." We also invite a lobbyist to lunch to find out how he wins friends and influences people. And, we try to figure out whether Democrats are becoming the party of "Law & Order" with several proposals to stiffen penalties for crimes. 

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The gavel has fallen and the Utah Legislature is officially in session! This week we dissect opening speeches by Gov. Gary Herbert and House Speaker Greg Hughes, then Speaker Hughes will also join us later in the episode for our “Better Know a Lawmaker” segment. To wrap it up, we'll sprint through some of the bills that have started to gain momentum on the hill.

Phillip Massey

Utah lawmakers will convene Monday for the 2018 General Session of the 63rd Utah Legislature. With more than 1,200 bills already filed, lawmakers expect another record breaking year of laws passed during the 45-day session. Here are five things to watch for this year. 

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And we're back! Welcome to Season 2 of 45 Days. The 2018 Utah Legislative Session is just around the corner. This week we're giving you an idea of some of the big topics lawmakers will try to tackle, some oddball bills we're kind of fond of, and our first ever installment of "Better Know a Lawmaker," featuring Rep. Robert Spendlove.