Local leaders and Utah lawmakers representing rural areas of the state gathered at the State Capitol today for the legislatures annual Rural Day to discuss their priorities for this year’s legislative session.
Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, who is himself a former rural legislator from Fairview, Utah, spent about a half hour talking with the group about the challenges rural areas face and some of the potential solutions.
Schools across Utah for the first time have been issued a single letter grade for their performance. According to the results of a new school grading system, released this morning, more than half of the state’s public schools got an A or a B, while the rest got C’s D’s or F’s. The education community responded this morning by calling the new system poor policy. But lawmakers contend it shines a light on poor-performing public schools.
The West Valley City mayoral race heats up, Utah’s business mergers and acquisitions reach an all time high, and the Utah House considers its options on how to deal with the allegations surrounding the Attorney General.
Join KUER's team of reporters for a live chat from the Utah State Capitol as we track down the most important stories on the last day of the Utah State Legislature. Join in on the conversation and tell us what you think about this year's legislative session. Let us know what you think, be it the good, the bad, or the ugly.
HB 76, the bill eliminating the need to get a concealed carry permit, is moving to the governor’s desk after the Senate gave it final approval today.
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-Ogden, is the Senate sponsor of the bill. He says he simply wants to make it easier for Utahns to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights that they already have.
“It doesn’t change anything about who can carry a weapon or possess a firearm," he says. "It simply gives honest people the right to do what they can’t do honestly right now, and that is cover up the weapon.”
A bill that would remove the need to get a concealed carry permit for gun owners over the age of 21 is one vote away from being sent to the Governor’s desk. HB76 received preliminary approval in the Utah Senate today.
Republican Senator Stephen Urquhart’s LGBT antidiscrimination bill did not receive a vote on the Senate floor Monday, effectively killing it for this year’s legislative session.
By passing out of committee SB262, which would prohibit employers and landlords statewide from discriminating against homosexuals, made it further than any other similar legislation ever has. Democratic Senator Jim Dabakis co-sponsored the bill and while he says that he’s disappointed that it didn’t receive a vote in the Senate, he acknowledges that they’re moving in the right direction.
A statewide anti-discrimination bill gets preliminary approval, Alliance for a Better Utah files a complaint about Attorney General John Swallow, and the Republican caucus releases their preliminary budget proposal.
A bill that would require schools to notify the parents of children who are being bullied or who have threatened suicide has passed out of the Utah Senate today. Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake says SB184 is aimed at helping parents share responsibility with the schools and allow them to be more engaged in what happens with their children.
Governor Gary Herbert along with legislators and government leaders are putting their support behind a bill that would help local and state agencies expand their fleets of Compressed Natural Gas vehicles.
The Utah House looks at tax credits for clean fuel vehicles, Governor Herbert is against a bill eliminating the need for a concealed carry permit, and legislators join a coalition of groups from the private sector to promote workplace safety.
A couple of alcohol related bills managed to make their way through House committees Wednesday including one that would eliminate Utah’s so-called “Zion Curtain.”
HB228 eliminates provisions in Utah law that requires restaurants to keep open liquor bottles and the actual mixing of drinks out of public sight. Republican Rep. Gage Froerer voted in favor of the bill. He says the current law is an unnecessary obstacle.
The Utah House of Representatives considered three gun bills Tuesday afternoon and managed a vote on only one of them.
Of the three gun-related bills that the Utah House had a chance to debate, only Republican Rep. Dixon Pitcher’s HB121 received a vote. It would allow an individual to turn over a gun in his or her household to the police for up to 60 days if they feel it presents a danger to themselves or others in the house. Rep. Pitcher says he believes this law will help save lives without causing too much inconvenience.
Lawmakers from separate parties and different chambers are finding synergy in moving anti-bullying and anti-suicide legislation during the session. Democratic Senator Luz Robles and Republican Representative Gage Froerer say when they found out they were working individually on the same thing they decided to team up. Froerer says HB-134 is a statewide effort to make a dent in the epidemic of teen suicides as well as bullying in our schools.
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.
The Utah Department of Health says that the privately contracted cost/benefit analysis of the optional Medicaid expansion is still not complete. The Social Services joint appropriations committee had planned to hear the report Tuesday morning.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker joined Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell at the State capitol today in announcing their ideas on how government on both the local and state level can help improve air quality.
A group of Democratic legislators are introducing six new bills in an effort to help tackle Utah’s poor air quality.
The content of the proposed bills ranges from offering free passes for UTA Buses and TRAX trains to allowing the state to put in place stricter restrictions than the Environmental Protection Agency already requires. Representative Joel Briscoe is sponsoring the bill that would fund giving away free UTA passes. He says even with a tight budget this is something that should be attainable.
The Utah Senate is ready to spend ten million dollars to expand the number of medical students at the University of Utah. Senate Bill 42 would let the University of Utah medical school add 40 slots for new students -- with the condition that the new applicants have a significant connection to Utah. The bill has bipartisan support. Democrat Luz Robles argued the shortage of doctors is worse in rural parts of the state.
There was a somber moment of silence as Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Aaron Beesley and his family were honored in both chambers of the Utah Legislature Wednesday. Beesley died while on a search and rescue mission in Salt Lake County in June last year. Senator Pete Knudsen from District 17 spoke as a large group of the Beesley family stood in the center of the Senate floor.
“In recognition of the ultimate sacrifice paid by Trooper Aaron Beesley, the Utah Legislature hereby honors Trooper Beesley and his surviving family for their service to the State of Utah,”said Knudsen.