Utah News

Utah News and UPR Newsline are productions of Utah Public Radio. Our news partners include: The Herald Journal.

Funding Falls Short As Gonorrhea Cases Spike

Mar 17, 2015

Cases of gonorrhea in Utah are on the rise, but the cause of the increase remains unclear.

According to the Utah Department of Health, cases increased nearly 400 percent between 2011 and 2014. And there is a sharp divide in the increase between males and females.

“In the same time period we had a 296 percent increase among males, where we had a 717 percent increase among females,” said Joel Hartsell, at STD epidemiologist for Utah Department of Health.

Cache County Officials Prepare for St. Patrick's Day

Mar 16, 2015

In an effort to prevent drunk-driving fatalities, the Cache County Sheriff’s Office will be deploying extra deputies on St. Patrick’s Day this Tuesday.

According to Chief Deputy Matt Bilodeau of Cache County, the additional prevention measure comes at no extra cost to the sheriff’s office.

“We get federal money for alcohol prevention, and that’s usually focused on some of those weekends where the drinking becomes a little bit more heavy,” Bilodeau said. “And that’s where we’re able to fund extra patrols coming out.”

More Americans Are Retiring In The West

Mar 16, 2015
National Park Service

Older Americans are three times more likely to retire in areas of Utah and other Western states that have protected public lands such as Zion National Park near St. George. That's the finding of a new report from the Center for Western Priorities. Gregg McArthur, with the St. George Chamber of Commerce, said retirees have a positive effect on local economies.

"The retirement segment is usually individuals who are successful individuals that have disposable income," McArthur said. "It's a great segment of the economy, retirees moving into the area."

Utah's LGBT Community Finds Support From Wedding Vendors

Mar 16, 2015
Logan Walker Photography

With the legalization of same-sex marriages and the passage of a new law protecting members of the LGBT community from discrimination, Same-sex couples getting married are finding that wedding vendors provide more than a service, they’re also among their biggest supporters. 

Pepper Nix, an award winning wedding photographer out of Sandy said the legalization of same-sex marriage hasn’t affected her business as much as it has the same-sex couples who, before it was legal, were careful in how they spoke to her.


April Ashland

Thursday night marked the close of the Utah Legislature’s general session. And according to many of the state’s leading lawmakers, it was a busy year at the Capitol.

Utah’s 45-day legislative session rarely ends with a whimper. And 2015 was no exception.

“I’m Senator Steve Urquhart. One question: how cool is this,” said Republican Senator Steve Urquhart, celebrating the triumph of Senate Bill 296, which combined LGBT protections in housing and employment, with protections of religious liberties.

News Service

After five years of negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is getting closer to being presented to Congress and labor, manufacturing and government watchdog groups maintain the results could be disastrous. The TPP is a massive international trade agreement between the United States and 11 other nations. Dale Cox, the president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations in Utah, also known as the AFL-CIO, said the major concerns are that the negotiations have been secret, and the president wants to fast-track the deal.

52 Strong: Civil Rights Means Rights For All

Mar 13, 2015
Jason Gilmore

Our last installment of the 52 Strong USU Civil Rights pilgrimage series takes us on the road with iconic civil rights activist Bob Zellner. USU professor Jason Gilmore tells us more about the white man who stood up for the rights of blacks, understanding that it was truly for the rights of all.

Stylized painting of a person with colorful paint strokes depicting the brain

Brain injury is sometimes called the silent epidemic because the symptoms aren't often obvious to the general public. Yet for many with brain injuries, each day is a struggle to keep afloat.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Utah works to increase awareness and provide support to those people whose lives have been devastated by the long-term effects of a brain injury.

LGBT flag

Milestone legislation that would ban LGBT discrimination while protecting religious liberties has made it to the desk of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

The Utah House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 296 late Wednesday evening, on the second-to-last night of this year’s general session. But the favorable 65-10 vote came after some emotional discussion on the House floor.

Several lawmakers, including Republican Rep. Ken Ivory, voiced their opposition to the bill. Ivory argued that the bill was being rushed into law, and it needed more time to be analyzed.

No Medicaid Deal As Legislative Session Ends

Mar 12, 2015

Any chance for a deal between supporters of Gov. Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah Medicaid expansion and rival plan Utah Cares have died with the conclusion of this year’s legislative session. It was announced that no agreement had been reached during a Thursday press conference with the Governor and legislative leaders. However, there is hope that the issue could be resolved through a special session of the legislature.

Speaking on Wednesday, Herbert said that Healthy Utah was the best option for dealing with the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion mandate.

New Tesla Dealer In Utah Hits Roadblock

Mar 11, 2015

If you’re in the market for a new car and are thinking a Tesla might be the way to go, be prepared to make the purchase out of state.

The opening of a new Tesla Motors dealership in Salt Lake City is on hold after lawmakers voted against revising a key state law.

Currently there is a provision that prohibits manufacturers from opening up sales locations that would compete with privately owned dealerships.

However, James Chen, vice president of regulatory affairs for Tesla Motors said his company doesn't operate using business models other dealers use.


On Monday, a large crowd of parents and educators gathered at the state capital to join in a rally calling for the approval of Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s plan to increase per-pupil spending. In his plan, Herbert called for an increase of 6.25 percent with lawmakers proposing an alternative raise of just 4 percent.

The different rates mean that there is an $80 million disparity between the two plans. While he appreciates the fact that a large amount of funding is still being considered, Herbert said that Utah is able to afford his plan thanks to the state’s robust economy.


A bill that would enact tougher punishments for cockfighting is on the verge of passing in the Utah Legislature.

Currently in Utah, cockfighting-associated offenses are considered misdemeanors under state law. But Senate Bill 134 would make a third offense a third-degree felony. The bill was proposed by Democratic Senator Gene Davis of Salt Lake City—though his original draft called for felony charges upon first offense.

Utah Legislature Votes To Revive Firing Squad

Mar 11, 2015
Associated Press

Utah’s Republican-controlled state legislature voted Tuesday to bring back executions by firing squad.

It is being called the most dramatic illustration yet of the nationwide frustration over botched executions and shortages of the drugs used in lethal injections. The bill would allow firing squads if there is a deficiency of these drugs.

American Civil Liberties Union of Utah Legal Director John Mejia says the bill has already brought negative attention to the state.

billboard for airport

A dwindling number of air carriers serve remote towns with federal subsidies from the Essential Air Service, or EAS program. In Utah, they include Moab, Vernal and Cedar City. In May, two out of the three are set to lose their air service to Salt Lake City. It’s a game of musical chairs that isn’t set to end soon.

Local Coffee Roaster Wins National Competition

Mar 10, 2015
A Caffe Ibis roaster holds freshly roasted beans.
Elaine Taylor

In late February Caffe Ibis coffee roaster Brandon Despain went from coffee competition newbie to first place winner of the US Coffee Championship. Despain began working for the Logan-based café as a barista a decade ago. He eventually transitioned to the position of roaster, training under late Caffe Ibis Co-owner and Roastmaster Randy Wirth.

Death With Dignity Bill Put On Hold

Mar 10, 2015

A bill supporting physician-assisted suicide has been tabled by the state legislature, with the intent that it will be reconsidered next year. House Bill 391, called the Utah Death with Dignity Act, was introduced last week by Salt Lake City Democratic Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck. The bill would allow certain qualified terminally-ill adults to take their own life through a self-administered prescription drug. Chavez-Houck said that this is not the same as euthanasia.

Dry Winter Will Bring Wildfires, Officials Say

Mar 10, 2015

Meteorologists are calling this winter the warmest on record. While this might be good news to picnickers and hikers, officials are saying the pleasant weather could have some unpleasant effects on the environment.

Jason Curry from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands says the dry weather will likely bring an increase in wildfires.

52 Strong: Bloody Sunday In Selma

Mar 9, 2015
crowd gathers in Selma, Ala.
Jason Gilmore

Our next installment of the 52 Strong: USU Civil Rights Pilgrimage series takes us to Selma, Ala. for the fiftieth anniversary of bloody Sunday. USU Professor Jason Gilmore brings us the history of the now infamous march, with research help by Austin White of Bellevue College.


A new report adds to a growing stack of studies showing that public lands can have a huge impact on local economies. Chris Mehl is with the nonprofit research group Headwaters Economics, and author of a report that analyzed the employment picture in Grand County, which encompasses Moab, as well as Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

"We found that almost half, 47 percent of private jobs in the county are supported by tourism and recreation on these public lands, like the national parks, the forest service land, the BLM land," Mehl said.

A Utah Man Competes In World Tree Climbing Championship

Mar 6, 2015
Melissa Allison

The 2015 International Tree Climbing Championship (ITC) happens March 21 in Tampa, Fla. Throughout the year, Mark Malmstrom and his crew remove and mulch trees, but during the competition he is on his own.

“We’re not there to cut the tree down or pretend to cut the tree down," said Malmstrom, a Cache Valley arborist. "We’re there to test our climbing ability.”

The ITC invite both male and female entrants to compete in events that arborists encounter in their line of work. Malmstrom said some of these events can be daunting.

New Climate Study Met With Controversy

Mar 5, 2015

In January, I met with Simon Wang, director of the Utah Climate Center, to discuss the difference in winter weather in the eastern and western United States. In 2014 the West set record-warm temperatures and continues to experience drought conditions, while the East is still expecting heavy winter storms and record-low temperatures going into March.


Gov. Herbert in office

After some resistance from leading state lawmakers in recent weeks, the Utah House of Representatives gave Gov. Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan a committee hearing on Wednesday night. But that small triumph for the governor brought major disappointment for him and other proponents of Senate Bill 164 later, when the House Business and Labor Committee shot it down by a 9-4 vote, effectively ending any hope for the proposal.

blogs.state.gov / U.S. Department of State

A Utah proposal protecting gay and transgender individuals received unanimous approval from a Republican-controlled Senate committee Thursday morning.

The bill, which has earned a rare stamp of approval from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, bars discrimination against LGBT individuals while protecting the rights of religious groups and their followers.

Equality Utah’s Executive Director Troy Williams said this bill is unprecedented in Utah.

An orchestra performs with a choir in the background.

Weeks of rehearsal at the Uintah Basin Orchestra and Chorus will culminate in the organization’s highest profile concert yet. This sold-out event will feature arrangements and original compositions by Mack Wilberg with guest conductor Craig Jessop at the helm.

Jessop is the former conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and current music director and conductor of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra in Logan. Both he and Wilberg grew up in rural Utah, Millville and Castledale respectively, and he said he thought it would be great to have an all-Utah concert in Vernal.

“You do not have to come from a large metropolitan area to achieve your dreams or be successful in any area,” Jessop said. “Here are two country-Utah boys coming to Vernal with their resources, doing this, I think very, very exciting concert.”