Utah News

Utah News and UPR Newsline are productions of Utah Public Radio. 

Referendum To Repeal Utah Tax Code Changes Underway

Dec 20, 2019
Andrew Smith / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

This week Governor Gary Herbert signed Senate Bill 2001, which enacted changes to Utah’s tax code. The bill, which was passed largely along party lines, failed to secure the two-thirds majority support it would need to be referendum proof.

People standing outside of a jewelry store in southern Utah.
Jim Sevy

Growing up on the Piute Reservation near Santa Clara, Utah, Glenn Rogers said his family was so poor that there often weren’t any gifts at Christmas time. 

Utah authorities have released an internal police review outlining areas of improvement but found no signs of excessive use of force during a protest that turned physical. The Salt Lake Police Department has released their incident review Thursday saying police officers showed restraint in their response to protesters storming the Chamber of Commerce Building in July despite an officer punching at least one protester. Authorities say 14 people are facing criminal charges as a result of the protest against the Utah Inland Port, a global trade hub planned in Salt Lake City.

Gov. Gary Herbert; In his October monthly conference, Gov. Herbert had focused on the state's need of an "equitable" tax reform.
Kat Webb / UPR

During Gov. Gary Herbert’s monthly press conference, he announced his signature of the tax reform bill passed last week by the state legislature in a special session. He also addressed some of the concerns that have been voiced in relation to the changes. 

A federal jury has convicted a Utah man of illegally importing and selling devices to convert semi-automatic handguns into fully automatic weapons. Gary Hill was accused of importing from China and selling conversion devices for Glock handguns in Utah without having paid a special occupation tax or registering as required by law. Hill was caught after he sold multiple devices to three undercover agents in February and March 2017. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

Mayor Emily Niehaus and Developer Mike Bynum speak at a development conference in Moab.
Molly Marcello, KZMU

Moab’s elected officials are looking for solutions to an imbalance in their local economy, specifically when it comes to unparalleled growth in overnight accommodations. According to officials, hotels and motels are pricing out other commercial or residential development.

Table spread with holiday meal.
waranyu/Adobe Stock)

The holidays mean lots of big meals– and lots of food waste. But a few tips could help people put those leftovers to good use. Year-round, the United States Department of Agriculture estimates 30 to 40 percent of food is thrown away. 

Jordan High School's Official Website / wikimedia

A new report says the high school graduation rate in Utah this year has increased for the seventh consecutive year. The state Board of Education has released data Monday stating that 43,500 students graduated from district and charter high schools representing about 90% who entered as freshmen four years earlier. Board officials say the overall graduation rate increased since last year and is up by more than 3% in the past five years. Officials say the lowest graduation rates were among students who are economically disadvantaged, English learners and students with disabilities.

AmplifyThought / pixabay

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is defending how it uses and invests member donations after a former church employee alleged in a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service that the faith had improperly built a $100 billion investment portfolio using member donations that are supposed to be used for charitable causes. Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement Tuesday that most of the money goes to fund church operations while another portion is “methodically safeguarded through wise financial management."  The confidential IRS complaint provided to the Washington Post

Christmas Trees: A Pathway For Invasive Species

Dec 17, 2019

Oh, Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, please don’t infect Utah with these species. 

CDC Reports Childhood Trauma As Major Cause Of Health Issues In Adults

Dec 17, 2019
Woman sitting in the floor, holding head.
Kittiphan/Adobe Stoc

Childhood trauma has long-lasting effects on a person's well-being. According to recent data, it impacts thousands of Idahoans with serious health conditions and even death. 

Popular Bicycle App May Change User Behavior

Dec 16, 2019
Tim Brink / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Strava is a fitness tracking app mountain bikers can use on their smartphones. It connects with their bike’s computer, allowing riders to track and record their activity and then create visuals of their progress. But it may be changing how people recreate.

Ben McAdams in front of American Flag.
Eric Connolly

CoreCivic / Flickr

Inmates in Utah are learning to tell their stories through a speech club that builds communication skills to help navigate life after release and teach others to avoid their mistakes. The Salt Lake Tribune reports about 50 men are part of the New Visions Speech club, which serves a facility where inmates have demonstrated good behavior and want counseling and therapy. Ex-club president Ben Barnett says it helped him explain his criminal past and get a marketing job after his release last month.

Alliance for Excellent Education / flickr

The first class of Chinese dual immersion students in the Alpine School District are entering high school and fresh off a recent trip to China where they were able to try out the language skills. The Daily Herald in Provo reports that the students learned Chinese after years of hard work that some remember that learning sent them to tears as young elementary school students.

An elementary school in the Salt Lake City suburb of Cottonwood Heights has been evacuated because of a natural gas leak. Canyons School District officials say extensive work will be needed to fix the leak and that Canyon View Elementary School will be closed Friday. District officials say the school's students are safe and that they have been transported to Butler Middle School for pickup by their parents. 

Young girls carrying wood.
AnneCN (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

A father-daughter duo from Cache Valley recently published a book featuring stories of service performed by children from around the United States, and even a few from outside the country. 

The Utah State Capitol at night.
Matilyn Mortensen

After almost a year of discussion, Utah lawmakers passed a tax reform bill Thursday evening largely along party lines. 

KOMUnews / flickr

Utah homeless advocates say they have had difficulty filling beds at Salt Lake County’s homeless resource centers. The Deseret News reported some people in the homeless population have not yet made the transition to sleeping at the centers. Officials say that following the closure of the Road Home’s downtown shelter, the centers have been left with empty beds each night. Data collected between Nov. 22 and Dec. 5 indicate three centers with a combined 700 beds averaged 649 people, which is 93% of capacity.

Computer Science Program in Schools; Gov. Gary Herbert proposed $10.2 to help fund a K-12 computer science program by 2022, along with Utah tech companies like Pluralsight, Qualtrics, Domo, and InsideSales.com.
cherylt23 / Pixabay.com

According to data released by the federal government, there are more than 900,000 internet technology and computer science jobs in the U.S. In Utah, more than 5,000 of these jobs are unfilled. 

Ken Lund / flickr

A new University of Utah report says the state experienced a significant increase in its population over the past decade. The university's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute released analysis that found the growth was especially strong in Utah County. The institute found Utah County’s population increase led the state at 26.1% with the addition of 134,845 people since 2010. That brought the county's  population to more than 651,000. Salt Lake County had a 12% increase of 123,305 people over the decade. Davis, Washington and Weber counties had the next highest growth rates.


A legislative task force in Utah has voted to recommend a tax reform plan to the Legislature that would reduce state taxes by $160 million. That's double the amount in a previous proposal. The Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force met Monday ahead of a possible special session this week where lawmakers are expected to address a sweeping change to the state tax code. Task force members say the proposal would lower income taxes while increasing sales and other taxes.

Cache County Community Food Pantry; Director Matt Whitaker walks through the aisles of the food bank's storage.
Kat Webb / UPR

It's during November and December that the local food bank gets the majority of its donations for the year.

unknown / us army

Utah is set to become the latest state to allow immigrant ‘Dreamers’ to practice law in the state under a new proposed rule issued by the state Supreme Court. The rule unveiled Monday comes after a request made last year by two women who earned law degrees from Utah universities but couldn't practice law because they aren't legal residents of the United States. They are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an initiative implemented during former President Barack Obama's administration that allows young people brought to the U.S.


​​​​Leaders of the Silicon Slopes community have partnered with the Community Foundation of Utah to launch a Field of Interest Fund dedicated to advancing K-12 computer science education in Utah.