Utah News

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

USU Professor Takes On TEDxUSU

Oct 23, 2015
Melissa Allison

Ted Talks got their start in 1984 with a lineup that included Lucasfilm and talks about 3-D graphics. Even with an amazing list of speakers that first event lost money. It wasn’t until six years later that Ted Talks took hold of the world and sold out to an invitation only crowd.


Gov. Gary Herbert used his monthly press conference on Thursday to express his frustration concerning Medicaid expansion. UtahAccess+, the end product of a summer’s worth of negotiations between the state’s legislative and executive leaders, failed to clear a Republican caucus meeting last week.

Herbert said that he still stands by his original Healthy Utah proposal, claiming it was the state’s best option, yet.

Travel Agents Put A New Spin On An Old Industry

Oct 21, 2015
Oregon State

According to an article in the Huffington Post, travel agents are considered a “secret weapon” when it comes to planning your trip. The article used research done by a luxury travel agent, Steve Shulem, to explain that not only are travel agents the best at getting the lowest prices possible, they are a safety net when things go wrong.

Lee Introduces Criminal Justice Bill

Oct 20, 2015

On Monday, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee argued his case for criminal justice reform at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senator spoke on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, a bill he co-sponsored.

The bill does not erase mandatory minimums for federal drug convictions from the law books. Lee said that the legislation would focus on creating smarter, more just sentencing.  

Deficits Hurting Utah Veterans And Seniors

Oct 16, 2015

According to a newly released report, the U.S. Treasury is predicted to run out of money by the middle of November. If funds run out, Social Security and veterans payments to Utahns and Americans elsewhere could be affected.

Steve Bell is the senior director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. He said that revenues over the next month will not be enough to pay the bills.

UtahAccess+ Fails In GOP Caucus Meeting

Oct 15, 2015

Tuesday, a Republican caucus meeting in the state capitol failed to find enough votes to put forward UtahAccess+, the current Medicaid expansion plan, to the legislature. The proposal’s defeat came as a disappointment to House and Senate Democrats.

Minority Leader and Salt Lake City Democratic Rep. Brian King said that Republican House Speaker Greg Hughes ensured that UtahAccess+ would not see the light of day by instituting new voting procedures.

Hackers For the Greater Good Unite At Utah State

Oct 13, 2015
Aimee Cobabe

College and high school students gathered at Utah State University this past weekend for what is called a hackathon. Organizers of events like this said learning how to “hack” could help students prepare for a career in computer technology.

The event at the USU campus is not unique. According to organizers, about 7,000 people were hacking/coding worldwide.

Huntsman 'No Labels' Convention Draws Crowd

Oct 13, 2015

Eight presidential hopefuls were in New Hampshire Monday for the Problem Solvers Convention. The event, co-hosted by former presidential candidate and Utah Gov. John Huntsman Jr., gave undecided voters in the important primary state the chance to get to know the candidates and discussion pressing national issues.

The convention was the brainchild of the nonpartisan advocacy group No Labels, of which Huntsman is co-chair. He said that Americans are fed up with divisiveness in the nation’s capital and want more pragmatic policies.  


On Saturday, several state representatives held a town hall in Logan to explain UtahAccess+. The meeting was mostly informational, with time given for constituents to air their concerns. Much of the discussion centered on the expected costs of the program.

Medicaid expansion costs are shared by the federal government and the states. By creating an alternative plan, Utah would agree to pay a higher share of the cost, in exchange for more flexibility. Logan Republican Curt Webb said that UtahAccess+ stands a good chance of being approved by the federal government.

Utah's Last Monarch Release Of The Season

Oct 10, 2015

Wednesday was the last mass monarch butterfly release of the season. Activists are tracking the released butterflies to discover their migration pathway.


The most recent monarch release took place on Wednesday in St. George, to mark the opening of a water conservation park. It was the last butterfly release of the season.

National Week Of Action For School-To-Prison-Pipeline

Oct 9, 2015
Salt Lake Peer Court

Last week was national week of action against school pushout, a practice where schools take an active role in discouraging a student’s education through detention, suspension and expulsion; instead of peer, institutional and parental support.


According to a report by Public Policy Clinic of the University of Utah, one in three inmates at the Utah State Prison is a high school dropout.

Students who fail to finish high school are three and a half times more likely to be arrested as an adult.


Rugby Is Taking Hold Of Utah

Oct 9, 2015
Rugby Youth Utah

The 2015 Rugby World Cup is taking place this month in the United Kingdom and the match between South Africa and the United States on Wednesday proved less than thrilling for Americans. In the words of Kimball Kjar, who used to play for the U.S. and is now the director of operations for Rugby Utah, it was tantamount to one-way traffic.

Logan City Council Approves City-Wide Bike Lanes

Oct 7, 2015

Cycling activists packed the Logan City council meeting on Tuesday to show their support for the bicycle and pedestrian master plan, also known as bike-ped. The advocates biked together to the meeting and wore their helmets to show their enthusiasm for the plan.  



The resolution is intended to make cycling and walking safer and more readily available to Logan residents by establishing bike lanes throughout the city.  

Prison Reform Takes Effect In Utah

Oct 7, 2015

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative, effective on Oct. 1 across Utah, allows state inmates to complete programs that will reduce their sentence time by up to four months.  

“JRI is a whole new way to look at criminal justice in how we incarcerate, how we supervise, and how we treat people in our criminal justice system,” said Steve Gehrke, the director of quality and process improvement officer with the department of corrections.

USU Hosts First Disability Rights Week

Oct 6, 2015

Utah State University is honoring the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act this week by celebrating Disability Rights Week.

“The actual anniversary was in July, but we wanted to do something that impacted the student body,” said Shane Johnson, the development officer at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at USU.


The 100 year anniversary of the National Parks will be celebrated next year. To help visitors prepare, there’s a new interactive app that shares information about the nation’s parks, including those in Utah.

The Next Exit History app allows users to find historical markers around the country on their phone.

Utah Senators Diverge On Shutdown Vote

Oct 2, 2015

Mike Lee was one of 20 Senators Wednesday to vote against the continuing resolution to fund the government through Dec. 11. The measure passed 78 votes to 20. Lee’s colleague, Sen. Orrin Hatch, voted for the measure, highlighting the growing division among Congressional Republicans over the best strategy to limit federal spending.

USU's Chocolate Class Is A Golden Ticket

Oct 2, 2015
(© AP Images)

Mesoamericans called it, "Theobrama cacao - The food of the gods." We call it chocolate, and that chocolate bar you're eating got it's start almost 7,000 miles from Utah on a small cocoa bean farm in West Africa.


 The Navajo Nation is demanding immediate voting reforms in San Juan County, where it’s charged that Native American voters continue to be denied equal weight.

San Juan County and the Navajo Nation are still embroiled in court over whether the county’s voting districts unfairly shut out Native America voters, who constitute a majority of the county’s population. Now the Navajo Human Rights Commission is charging that mail-in balloting and the closing of remote polling places has reduced turnout for Navajo voters.

Closed-Door Medicaid Meeting Draws Ire

Sep 30, 2015

On Tuesday, Utah’s legislative Republicans met in caucus with the so-called Gang of Six to discuss UtahAccess+, the latest attempt to expand Medicaid. The meeting was closed to the public and the media, a move which drew criticism from Democrats and others.

State Democratic Party chair Peter Corroon said that the meeting should have been open and that opponents of Medicaid expansion have already been pushing legislators to reject the new plan.

Aimee Cobabe

On Tuesday, first lady Michelle Obama announced a new campaign goal of having 62 million girls around the world attending school, including institutions of higher education. That can be a challenge according to one Utah Valley University researcher in Utah who said there is a 10 percent lower rate of women graduating from college in the state compared with the rest of the country.


The report, published in the ‘Journal of Medical Entomology’ was the result of an exhaustive three year field test in which the research team covered more than 90 miles on foot, collecting 350 ticks. 119 of these were the species of ticks that are able to host the bacteria for Lyme disease. Of these 119, none of them tested positive for Lyme disease. Epidemiologist and assistant professor in USU’s Department of Biology, Scott Bernhardt said that although they didn’t find Lyme disease in their tick population, it doesn’t mean Utah is immune to it.

Industry Bringing STEM To The Classroom

Sep 29, 2015

As part of his New York City trip, Gov. Gary Herbert toured P-TECH, a Brooklyn high school, on Tuesday. It was an opportunity learn about innovation involving STEM in the classroom. Herbert toured the facility with IBM Foundation president Stan Litow and P-TECH principal Rashid Davis.

Ben Hart, Managing Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said that incorporating more STEM into Utah’s curriculum can help students develop crucial skill sets.


  On Monday, lawyers representing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service argued before a federal appeals court in Denver, hoping to reverse a decision made by a federal judge in Utah striking down the Service’s jurisdiction to regulate Utah Prairie Dog populations on private land within the state.



Algae As A Source Food For Livestock

Sep 28, 2015
Diego Mendiola

Friday, in a follow up to Growing Algae From Fracking Wastewater As A Biofuel, the research team at USU is finding new ways to feed the world as well, they have found that algae is high in protein and in nutrients.


In a small, shanty greenhouse a churning machine spins disks and barrels covered in black green colored algae. The researchers here are testing the most efficient way of growing these multipurpose organisms.