Utah State Legislative Coverage

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UPR's reporting on the the Utah State Legislature. 

Today on Access Utah we’ll continue our coverage of the 2021 Utah Legislature by checking in with several advocacy and research groups. We’ll ask them what their priorities are and what they hope emerges from this session of the legislature. We’ll be talking to representatives from Sutherland Institute, Libertas Institute, Utah Health Policy Project, Utah Foundation, Utah League of Cities and Towns, and Crossroads Urban Center.




During this conversation, we hear from


While the Utah State Capitol Complex re-opened to the public on Monday, there are still many virtual options for participating in the legislative session from the comfort of your home.

Lawmakers meeting to override Gov. Herbert's veto.

The 2021 Utah legislative session kicks off under unusual circumstances. Among the many items up for consideration are several police reform measures and an effort to put pressure on schools to resume in-person classes. Plus, a new president means a significant change in public lands policy, and a likely reversal of strategy for two Utah national monuments. And Camp Last Hope, a new kind of homeless encampment, takes shape in Salt Lake City.

Gov. Spencer Cox facebook

On Thursday night, Governor Spencer Cox delivered his first State of the State address from the capitol building.  

On Wednesday, the Business, Economic Development and Labor Appropriations committee heard testimony to further expand a statewide student apprenticeship program that seeks to give high school students credit for workforce experience. 


The late Representative LaWanna Shurtliff was remembered by her colleagues in the state House and Senate on Tuesday for her many contributions to the state, including those as a lawmaker and an educator. 


As the annual legislative session began on Tuesday amid the COVID-19 pandemic and on-going threats of violence and civil unrest across the nation, lawmakers are preparing for a packed 45-days of legislating. 

Utah Legislature Urged To Prioritize Affordable Housing

Jan 19, 2021

Religious leaders, local nonprofits and lawmakers are urging the Utah Legislature to restore funding for affordable housing to pre-pandemic levels or higher, in an effort to end homelessness among children.

Brandon Burk Photography

Join us for Access Utah on Tuesday: the opening day of the 2021 session of the Utah Legislature. We’ll be talking to Governor Spencer Cox and legislative leaders, including House Assistant Minority Whip, Rep. Angela Romero; and Senate Majority and Minority Whips, Sen. Ann Milner and Sen. Luz Escamilla, respectively. And we hear some of the priorities of our listeners as we head into this legislative session.

Police Reform On Docket In Utah Legislature

Jan 18, 2021
Adobe Stock Images

Police reform will be a top priority when the Utah Legislature opens next Tuesday, and groups are pressing lawmakers to pass more than 60 expected bills.

Cache County's State Lawmakers Weigh In On Upcoming Legislative Session

Jan 16, 2021
Andrew Smith / Wikimedia Commons

Though 2020 is over, its shadow — and that of the COVID-19 pandemic — will still linger over Utah’s 2021 State Legislative Session, which begins on Tuesday.


The 2021 session of the Utah Legislature begins on Tuesday and we’re going to get a preview of possible priorities, key legislation and the key players today on Access Utah. The Utah Capitol building will be closed to the public on opening day due to security concerns. Issues likely to be addressed by the legislature include tax cuts, education, and the economic effects of the pandemic.

Utah Stories

Today on Access Utah, a look at state air quality legislation. This episode was first broadcast in March during the final week of the 2020 session of the Utah Legislature.

Robert Cutts


Two bills improving services to people with mental illness were signed into Utah law this week, allocating $24 million for the first year and $17 million in ongoing funds. These bills seek to keep people out of the hospital if possible, and also to make sure that if a person in crisis needs hospitalization, there’s a bed available.  

Harvard Health

The Utah Legislature concluded its 2020 session on Thursday. We’ll recap the session on Monday, with a special focus on issues important to people in rural Utah. We’ll also talk about COVID-19 and Coronavirus.


“It's taken a lot of work kind of behind the scenes to move it from where it was to where it is now,” said Representative Dan Johnson of Logan. 

On Monday, Johnson had a second chance to move his bill that would expand the school lunch program in Utah along to the Senate floor for a vote. 


Abortion clinics would be required to cremate or bury fetal remains and women would have to get an ultrasound before the procedure under proposals approved by lawmakers in Utah this week, over objections that the new rules would erode access to abortion. The Legislature passed the bill regulating the disposal of fetal remains after an abortion or miscarriage Friday. Another bill requiring a provider to display ultrasound images and make the fetal heartbeat audible passed the House on Thursday. It now goes to the Senate.

Micah Sheldon, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

As Utah’s population increases, so do the housing prices. Senate Bill 39 is part of an effort to help more Utahns access housing.

Poll: Utahns Don't Want More Restrictions On Abortion Rights

Mar 6, 2020
Robert Cutts

Members of the Utah Legislature have proposed a significant number of bills this session to restrict women's reproductive rights. However, a recent poll shows that a majority of Utahns disagree with their elected officials. The poll asked about 800 Utah citizens about issues such as sex education, contraceptive access, abortion and Roe v. Wade.

Utah is poised to study the disproportionate violence inflicted against Native American women and girls after the Utah Legislature voted to create a task force. The Deseret News reports indigenous communities gathered at the Utah Capitol to celebrate Tuesday after the proposal passed the Senate unanimously. It now heads to Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk. Democratic state Rep. Angela Romero’s plan would bring together a nine-member task force of lawmakers, researchers, tribes, law enforcement and an advocate for victims.

A Utah bill that would require doctors to show a woman an ultrasound before performing an abortion has passed a House committee vote. The passage through the Judiciary Committee Tuesday moves the measure to the full House. Republican Rep. Steve Christiansen's bill would require a physician or technician performing a mandated ultrasound to describe the presence and location of an unborn child in the uterus, display images and make the fetal heartbeat audible for each woman.

Utah Online Public Library

An important dinosaur site in Utah is unlikely to become a state park after a measure proposed in the state Legislature was denied. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a bill to create Utahraptor State Park failed Monday in the Senate Natural Resources Committee over funding issues. Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Steve Eliason says the legislation would have established the state park near Arches National Park to develop and preserve a dinosaur quarry and surrounding area. The estimated $10 million cost of establishing the state park held up the approval process.

Utah voters are headed to the polls to cast their votes in the state's first presidential primary held on Super Tuesday, the high-profile series of contests held in delegate-rich states. The Democratic front-runner is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, though Utah voters have also been courted by moderates in the weeks leading up to the contest.

Utah would ban most abortions if the U.S. legal landscape changes under a proposal that has been passed by the Utah Senate. The Salt Lake Tribune reports it was approved on a party-line vote after Democrats argued against the plan to make performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It has exceptions for cases of rape, incest or serious threat to the health of the mother. The measure to ban most abortions contains a so-called trigger clause and  wouldn’t go into effect unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion.

A Utah state Senate committee has approved a bill with changes to a voter-approved initiative creating an independent voting redistricting commission. The Salt Lake Tribune reports the Proposition 4 initiative passed by voters in 2018 is aimed at curbing gerrymandering. Members of the Senate Business and Labor Committee voted unanimously for the bill, which loosens the initiative’s legal restrictions on the redistricting process. The bill sponsored by Republican Sen.

Lawmakers in Utah have passed a tighter ban on personalized license plates that have disparaging words or messages after a plate spelling out ‘deport them' sparked debate on social media. The Salt Lake Tribune reports the Friday vote sends the bill to Republican Gov. Gary Herbert. It would ban plates that disparage anyone based on race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship status or a physical or mental disability.

Polygamy wouldn't be a felony crime in Utah for the first time in 85 years under a bill that passed the Legislature and appears to be supported by the governor. Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly for the proposal that supporters said will allow the 30,000 people living in the state’s polygamous communities to come out of the shadows and report abuses such as underage marriage by other polygamists without fear of prosecution.  Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has indicated he will likely sign the proposal.

Democratic presidential candidates like to boast about their ability to lure away disaffected Republican voters. If there’s a place to test their skills it’s Utah. The deep red state is a bastion of conservative resistance to President Donald Trump. While the president has conquered virtually every other corner of the GOP landscape, his powers just don’t work as well in Utah. The state’s polite conservatism clashes hard with Trump’s take-no-prisoners approach.

Utah would ban most abortions if the U.S. legal landscape changes under a proposal that has gotten an early nod of approval at the Legislature. A panel of lawmakers on Wednesday approved the plan to make performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It has exceptions for cases of rape, incest or serious threat to the health of the mother. Four Republican men voted for it, and two Democratic women opposed it. It now moves to the Senate floor. It wouldn’t go into effect unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v.

A bill to make daylight saving time permanent has passed the Utah House of Representatives and will go the governor for his signature. The Deseret News reports the House passed the legislation Wednesday with only one dissenting vote. Despite the passage of the bill supporting a permanent change from standard time to daylight saving time, the measure requires further action before implementation. If Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signs the legislation, Congress and at least four Western states would need to take action in order for the bill to take effect.