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Utah Senate GOP leader: own voter info a concern

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The leader of Senate Republicans at the Utah Legislature says he understands the feelings of voters who want the state to conceal their information.

Under current state law, home addresses and dates of birth belonging to registered voters are available to the public.

But two pending Utah measures would restrict access to the personal details. They come amid concerns that companies can buy the information and that it shouldn't be posted online.

Monroe Republican and Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund said Monday he doesn't want his own information more public than necessary and understands the concerns.

But critics say such proposals could hide too much and could potentially camouflage voter fraud.

Republicans Rep. Becky Edwards and Sen. Karen Mayne bring the separate measures.

Both proposals await final approval from legislators.


Utah House OKs bill on pot-derived epilepsy drug

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers have advanced a measure allowing parents of children who have seizures to legally buy a marijuana-derived drug.

The House voted 62-11 Monday to approve the measure from Huntsville Republican Gage Froerer.

It would let Utah families bring back from neighboring Colorado medicine that some parents say goes lengths in tempering kids' violent fits. Current law prohibits the trip.

And parents would first need consent from a neurologist to apply for a one-year pass.

The medicine they pick up would need to contain less than half a percent of THC, the hallucinogenic property found in marijuana.

Lawmakers also tweaked the bill to impose a July 2016 expiration date.

After the Monday vote, cheers erupted from the balcony, a rare happening in the chamber.

The bill advances to the Senate.


Utah House OKs bill to move medical waste facility

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A proposal to move a medical waste-burning facility from North Salt Lake to a remote location in Tooele has cleared another step.

House lawmakers voted unanimously Monday to approve the measure.

A recent state study indicated that towns surrounding the facility had higher cancer rates, but researchers said the results are not definitive. Stericycle has maintained that it's complied with regulations as it fights violations.

Grantsville Republican Rep. Merrill Nelson praised the measure, saying a new plant would be unlikely to harm nearby residents.

But some Tooele County residents are urging lawmakers to carefully consider the costs of relocating the incinerator to their county.

The Stericycle incinerator processes 7,000 tons of waste each year, including laboratory tools, human tissue and other waste.

The measure advances to the Senate.


Utah bill reminds small towns to hold elections

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah lawmaker wants to make sure small towns don't forget to hold elections.

Ephraim Republican Rep. Jon Cox brings a proposal to ensure that such polls open. It comes after a community in the mountains near Salt Lake City missed its November election.

It was the second time Wallsburg forgot to publicize ballots for its 275 residents. Officials have said forgetfulness, not foul play, was to blame.

A county office or the lieutenant governor would schedule make-up elections under Cox's proposal. But the town would still be on the hook for related costs.

Cox says the bill is needed because under current state protocol, the missed contests keep officials in place until the next planned election two years down the road.

The bill awaits consideration in the full House.


House committee OKs caucus system overhaul bill

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A House committee has unanimously approved a new compromise bill to overhaul Utah's system for nominating political candidates.

The House Government Operations Committee voted 9-0 Monday to advance the measure.

Several lawmakers say they're opposed to the deal but voted in favor to continue discussion.

They cited concerns that the deal tells political parties how to select their candidates which they say could violate First Amendment rights to associate.

The deal from state lawmakers and the group Count My Vote preserves Utah's caucus-convention system but allows primary elections as an alternative path to the ballot if a candidate gathers enough signatures.

Count My Vote vows to continue a ballot initiative to let voters dump the caucus system entirely in favor of primaries unless Gov. Gary Herbert signs the compromise legislation.


Report: Paying to reopen parks paid off for Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new report from the National Park Service suggests Utah's decision to use state money to reopen its national parks during last fall's partial government shutdown paid off.

The report shows Utah paid the U.S. government nearly $1 million to reopen nine parks, monuments and recreation areas for six days until the shutdown ended.

During that time, there were 154,000 visits that led to an estimated $9.95 million in visitor spending. That includes money spent on gas, lodging, food and at outfitters in communities within 60 miles of the parks.

The report estimates the state lost more than $3 million in visitor spending during the first 10 days of the shutdown in each of the surrounding areas near Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.


Shutdown cost national parks at least $414M

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says the government shutdown last fall resulted in nearly 8 million fewer visitors to national parks, costing the parks and surrounding communities an estimated $414 million in lost visitor spending.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the shutdown was a striking reminder that national parks are a powerful economic engine for local economies across the country.

The report released Monday said five states, including California and Arizona, lost more than $20 million during the 16-day shutdown.

Six states received permission to reopen national parks within their borders using state money. The report said those states generated nearly $10 in visitor spending for every dollar spent. Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota and Tennessee all reopened parks.

A bill is pending in Congress to reimburse those states.


Mormon missionary hit, killed by car in Sweden

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A 19-year-old Mormon missionary from Utah is dead after being hit by a vehicle in Sweden.

A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says Mason Lewis Bailey died Sunday.

Church officials say Bailey had been serving in Stockholm since July 2013 and was walking to an appointment with his companion when he was struck. Bailey's partner was not hit by the vehicle.

Bailey was from Richfield.


Police ID man, woman dead in their Kaysville home

KAYSVILLE, Utah (AP) — Authorities have identified a husband and wife who were found dead over the weekend in their Kaysville home.

Police say 72-year-old Jeffery Wayman was found in the living room early Sunday morning and his 68-year-old wife Judith Wayman was discovered in the bathroom.

Authorities responded after a newspaper delivery person reported many uncollected newspapers outside and lights on inside the home.

Police say there were no obvious signs of foul play, and health issues may have been a contributing factor in their deaths. The bodies were taken to the State Medical Examiner's Office to determine exact causes of death.

Fire officials checked for carbon monoxide to ensure the home was safe to enter, but found no signs of it.


Bail stays at $1M for teen charged in deputy death

(Information in the following story is from: The Daily Herald,

PROVO, Utah (AP) — A Utah judge has denied a request to lower bail for a teenage girl charged with aggravated murder in crime spree that claimed the life of deputy and her boyfriend.

The Daily Herald of Provo reports the attorney for 17-year-old Meagan Grunwald said Monday in Provo that his client was as much a victim as anyone else in the events on Jan. 30.

Attorney Dean Zabriskie says Grunwald has no criminal history and is still in high school. He asked for bail to be lowered to $100,000.

Prosecutors countered that by saying her $1 million bail shouldn't be reduced by one cent.

They say Grunwald was an active participant in the crime spree, driving the car as her boyfriend fired at police and also helping pull off a carjacking.

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