Utah Legislature

Health Care
1:22 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Herbert: Delay Hasn't Hurt Medicaid Alternative

Governor Gary Herbert (R-Utah)
Brian Grimmett

  Governor Gary Herbert says he doesn’t think Utah’s long delay in coming up with an alternative to expanding Medicaid has hurt the prospect of a successful program.

The legislative session ended without action by lawmakers on any proposal for reaching those who aren’t covered by either Medicaid  or the Affordable Care Act.  Governor Herbert has proposed a program funded by block grants from the federal government to buy private health insurance for those people.  He says the Obama administration has indicated it will be flexible in working out a solution.

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Environment & Public Lands
9:55 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Air Quality Advocates Grade Lawmakers

Air quality advocates present their grades for lawmakers at the Utah Capitol.
Andrea Smardon

Clean air advocates released their grades for Utah lawmakers Tuesday. Compared to past legislative sessions, lawmakers showed improvement, but advocates say there is still a lot of work to be done. 

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Politics
3:35 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

2014 Utah Legislature Comes to a Close

File: Utah State Capitol
Brian Grimmett

As the 2014 session of the Utah Legislature comes to a close we're putting together an ongoing list of the best sights, sounds, stories, and tweets from the last day. Be sure to check back frequently to see the lastest.

Politics
3:13 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Utah Legislature Rushes Through Final Day

Utah Senate Clerk Paula Tew conducts a roll-call vote
Dan Bammes

  It’s the last day of Utah’s general legislative session.  State senators and representatives will be working ‘till midnight to get as many bills passed as they can. 

Whether it’s the chime that tells members of the House it’s time to vote, or state Senate clerk Paula Tew calling the roll, the final day of the legislative session is filled with vote after vote after vote.  Inevitably, there are many bills that won’t pass.  And there are issues that won’t be addressed in this session.

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Politics
3:52 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Sex Abuse Education Bill Passes Legislature

Utah State Senate
Wikimedia Commons

  House Bill 286 passed a final vote in the Utah House of Representatives 71-0 on Wednesday, after an amendment in the Senate required it to come back one last time.

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Politics
11:24 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Legislative Humor: #InternPickUpLines

The normal place to find Utah political chatter on Twitter is #utpol, but on Tuesday morning the hashtag InternPickUpLines exploded with humor and wit perfect for the last few days of the Utah legislature. Here is a selection of the very best.

Health Care
4:22 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Senate Passes Partial Medicaid Expansion

The floor of the Utah Senate
Brian Grimmett

The Utah Senate has approved a plan to partially expand Utah’s Medicaid program, but not before amending it to make it more compatible with Governor Gary Herbert’s expansion proposal.

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Politics
6:59 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Compromise Announced on Count My Vote

Utah State Senator Curt Bramble (R-Provo)
Dan Bammes

Leaders of the Count My Vote ballot initiative appeared with legislative leaders at a rare Sunday news conference to announce a compromise on the effort to replace Utah’s caucus-convention system for nominating political candidates.

The deal preserves the caucus system, but it also allows candidates to get on a primary election ballot by gathering voter signatures on a petition – from one thousand for a legislative seat to 28-thousand for a statewide office such as governor.

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Politics
3:25 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Legislature Will Have a Modest Budget Surplus

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, Executive Appropriations Co-Chair
Brian Grimmett

  Final revenue projections for the legislative session show the state will have a little more money in the coming year.  For some legislators, though, the numbers were a disappointment.

Budget co-chair Lyle Hillyard announced the new revenue estimates on the floor of the state Senate Friday morning.  One-time revenue – only available in this budget year – was up by 11-million dollars over earlier projections.  Ongoing revenue is expected to rise by 47-million dollars.  That will give the state a surplus just under 200-million dollars out of a total budget of about 13-billion.

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Politics
2:37 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Public Lands, PILT Funding on Congressman Bishop's Agenda for Legislature

First District Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Congressman Rob Bishop

  Utah’s 1st District Congressman is hoping he can claim a key committee chairmanship that would give Utah a significant advantage in Congress.  That was one of the messages Republican Rob Bishop brought to the Utah legislature today. 

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Politics
3:05 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Governor Urges Caution on Bill to Counter Ballot Initiative

Utah Governor Gary Herbert
Utah Education Network

  Utah’s governor says the legislature should be cautious about interfering with a citizen initiative on how candidates for public office are nominated.  

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Environment & Public Lands
5:10 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Legislative Committee Defeats Bill to Keep Medical Incinerators Away From Homes

The Stericycle medical waste incinerator sits next to homes in the Foxboro neighborhood of North Salt Lake.
Andrea Smardon

  A Utah Senate committee voted down a bill Friday that would have kept medical incinerators at least five miles away from homes. 

Senate Bill 64 would have increased fines for air quality violations by medical waste incinerators, increased the length of time allowed for investigating violations and  imposed a five-mile buffer between homes and any medical waste incinerator in the state.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:18 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Bill Would Increase Fees on Clean Vehicles

  Electric cars, hybrid cars and vehicles powered by natural gas would pay dramatically higher registration fees under a bill in the Utah State Senate.  Republican Senator Wayne Harper of West Jordan says vehicles that don’t use gasoline or diesel fuel need to pay their fair share to maintain Utah’s roads.

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Politics
4:22 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Report Shows Lower Rate of Alcohol Abuse Problems in Utah

  A report done for the Utah legislature shows the social problems associated with alcohol are decreasing.  But the legislator behind the report says it would be hard to justify changes in Utah’s liquor laws based just on the report’s findings.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:38 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Bill Requiring Cleaner State Fleet Moves Ahead

Compressed natural gas fueling station in Myton, Utah
Utah Clean Cities

  A bill that requires the state to use high-efficiency, low-polluting vehicles in its own fleet got strong support in the Utah State Senate this morning.

Senate Bill 99 originally required the state to use compressed natural gas vehicles for half its fleet by 2018.  But Republican Senator Scott Jenkins changed it to allow vehicles that use low-sulfur Tier 3 gasoline.  Jenkins says the people who run the state motor pool say it would accomplish the same goal for a lot less money.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:28 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Students Lobby for a New State Tree

Nine 4th graders from Angie Blomquist's class at Monroe Elementary in Sevier County traveled to the Capitol to testify on behalf of their bill to change the state tree to the quaking aspen. They posed with State Forester Brian Cottam, who also spoke in favor of the bill.
Credit Judy Fahys

A group of concerned school kids made their way to the Utah State Capitol Tuesday to ask lawmakers to change one of the state’s symbols. 

Fourth-grade lobbyists say Utah needs a new state tree.  Members of Mrs. Blomquist’s class from Monroe Elementary in Sevier County pressed their case at the Capitol. Nine of the students told senators why the Colorado blue spruce should make way for the quaking aspen.

“The quaking aspen is self-pruning,” said Neomi Avery, “They take care of themselves just like Utah citizens.”

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Politics
4:01 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Utah House Speaker Challenges Governor Herbert

Members of the Utah House of Representatives stand and applaud during Speaker Becky Lockhart's remarks. (Jan. 27, 2014)
Andrea Smardon

The Utah House of Representatives opened this year’s legislative session with some bold remarks from Republican Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, challenging Governor Gary Herbert.

Just like speeches from years’ past, Speaker Lockhart railed against the over-reach of the federal government, and insisted that Utah resist. But this time, she targeted Governor Herbert who has recently said that he favors some limited expansion of Medicaid in the state.

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Environment & Public Lands
9:40 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Lawmakers Unveil Air Quality Bills

Utah lawmakers say their new package of bills will help clear the air, especially on smoggy days like Wednesday.
Judy Fahys

A bipartisan caucus of Utah House members has unveiled a package of air-pollution bills. They say the proposals will Utah’s air easier to breathe. The measures include incentives for consumers to buy cleaner snow-blowers and weed whackers. There is one bill that would ban medical waste incinerators in the state. Another proposal would allow the state to authorize environmental regulations that are more rigorous than federal laws.

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Religion
3:41 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

LDS Church Says No Change Needed in Utah Liquor Laws

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  A top leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says Utah’s liquor laws are just fine the way they are.  But that may not stop further attempts to change them during the upcoming legislative session. 

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Environment & Public Lands
1:37 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

State Funding For Catching Carp in Utah Lake?

A commercial fishing crew pulls carp from an ice-covered Utah Lake
Tammy K. Nakamura Utah Department of Natural Resources

  The Utah Lake Commission is asking the legislature for 7-point-5 million dollars to help reduce the number of carp in Utah Lake.  A legislator from Lehi thinks that’s a great idea, and he’s hoping they can find the money during the general session that starts next week.

The Commission has been paying a commercial fishing business to take tons of carp out of the lake, hoping to reverse the environmental damage the fish have caused over the past century.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:19 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Are Utah's Rules for Emissions Inspections on Old Cars Fair?

Wikimedia Commons

  Newer cars are a lot cleaner than older cars, but a member of the Utah Senate would like to make sure the rules for inspecting those older vehicles are being applied fairly.

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Local Government
3:02 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Utah Lawmakers to Consider Gas Tax Hike

A Republican state representative is proposing a gas tax increase this year. The Utah legislature has not passed a fuel tax increase in more than 15 years, but Representative Jim Nielson of Bountiful argues the roads need funding, and those who use them should be the ones who pay. Republicans as a rule don’t like to do be associated with tax increases, but Nielson insists raising taxes on gasoline is a conservative idea.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:59 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Utah Lake Commission Hopes to Speed Up Carp Removal

Fisherman Bill Loy and his crew removing carp from Utah Lake
Utah Lake Commission

The Utah Lake Commission thinks it can finish the job of reducing the carp in the lake if it can get some help from the Utah legislature. 

  For years, the Utah Lake Commission has been paying a commercial fisherman to remove thousands of tons of carp from Utah Lake.  But it’s asking for $7.5 million from the state to help reach its goal of reducing the carp population by 75%.

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Politics
5:00 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Rep. Jim Nielson Won't Run for a Third Term

State Representative Jim Nielson (R-Bountiful)
courtesy photo

  State Representative Jim Nielson says he won’t be running for a third term. 

In three legislative sessions, the Republican from Bountiful earned a reputation as a conservative in a House that’s pretty conservative already.  As he prepares for his final session, Nielson says it’s likely lawmakers will be looking at ways to address the same-sex marriage issue – perhaps by getting government entirely out of the marriage business.

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Politics
2:16 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Governor's Budget Proposal Focuses On Education

Governor Gary Herbert, R-UT, unveils his FY 2015 Budget Proposal
Brian Grimmett

Utah Governor Gary Herbert released his 2015 budget proposal today at Utah Valley University in Orem and its main focus is on increased education funding.

For the 2015 fiscal year the Governor’s office of Management and Budget projects the state will receive $338 million dollars in new money. Governor Herbert’s proposal calls for more than 75% of it to go towards education.

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Health Care
3:40 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Interim Committee Approves Smoking Age Increase

Raul Lieberwith

A draft of a bill that would raise the legal smoking age from 19 to 21 received approval from the Health and Human Services Interim Committee today.

Sponsors of the bill say that raising the age limit would help prevent younger teenagers from starting smoking. The Senate sponsor, Republican Stuart Reid, says the change would also promote better public health.

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Politics
3:39 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Legislative Audit Criticizes USTAR Managment

The USTAR building at the University of Utah
University of Utah

  A new legislative audit criticizes the Utah Science, Technology and Research Initiative for poor financial management.  But a University of Utah official says the school has followed the rules with its U-STAR partnership.

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Politics
5:42 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Speaker Names Five Republicans, Four Democrats to Special Investigative Committee

Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart during Wednesday's special legislative session
Brian Grimmett

House Speaker Becky Lockhart has announced the names of the representatives who will serve on the special committee investigating Utah Attorney General John Swallow.

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Politics
4:26 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Utah Legislator Proposes $10K Limit to Campaign Contributions

The state Government Operations interim committee will be taking a look at a bi-partisan proposal Wednesday to put a limit on campaign contributions.

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Environment & Public Lands
1:33 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Repeal of HB 155 on Special Session Agenda

Sego lilies, Utah's state flower, growing on BLM land near Moab, UT
Dan Bammes

  One of the items on the agenda of Wednesday’s special legislative session is the possible repeal of a controversial bill restricting the authority of federal law enforcement officers.  KUER’s Dan Bammes has more.

House Bill 155 limits the authority of Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service personnel to enforce state laws on public land, and threatens them with prosecution if they try it.  A federal court has issued an injunction preventing the state from implementing the law.

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