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LEGISLATURE-LOTS OF BILLS
Utah legislators propose record number of bills
(Information in the following story is from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah legislators have broken a record this year by proposing more bills than ever before while simultaneously tying a low record for the fewest number of bills passed.
Sen. John Valentine, an Orem Republican who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, says legislators had introduced 738 proposals by Monday.
He says that's "a historic high."
At the same time, legislators have only passed 138 bills as of Friday, which ties 2007 for the lowest number passed six weeks into the session.
Valentine told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1hJnxxE) that because legislators spent the first week focusing only on the budget, the process for passing other bills has been delayed this year.
MISSING GIRL-WEST VALLEY CITY
West Valley police find missing 12-year-old girl
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) — Police say they've found a 12-year-old special education student who was last seen at her West Valley City school before going missing for a night.
Authorities say a tipster called Tuesday morning to say they'd found a girl who was confused, cold and looked like the missing Ashley Esquivel.
Police say they took the girl to the hospital for evaluation, and later confirmed it was Esquivel. They say they're working to determine what happened to her overnight.
Esquivel was reported missing Monday evening when her mother went to pick her up from a school activity and couldn't find her.
Surveillance video showed Esquivel outside the American Preparatory School in West Valley City about 3:45 p.m. Monday.
XGR-21 TO SMOKE
Utah lawmakers kill bill raising smoking age to 21
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Legislators have killed a bill that could have made Utah the first state in the country to raise the age people can buy tobacco products from 19 to 21.
The Utah Senate voted 12-16 on Monday against the bill, arguing that the proposal infringes on the rights of legal adults to purchase a legal product.
Ogden Republican Sen. Stuart Reid sponsored the bill.
He says it would prevent young people from becoming smokers because it would delay their access to tobacco.
Utah is already among a handful of states that ban sales for those younger 19 years old, instead of 18.
New York City raised the legal purchase age to 21 last year. Colorado is considering a similar proposal this year.
FATAL CAR ACCIDENT
Utah man pleads guilty in fatal red-light crash
(Information in the following story is from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com)
PROVO, Utah (AP) — A Springville man who prosecutors say was high on painkillers when he ran a red light and caused a fatal crash has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.
The Daily Herald reports 48-year-old Bryan Long pleaded to automobile homicide Monday. The charge was downgraded from a second-degree felony to a third-degree felony.
Springville Police say the crash happened Dec. 15 when Long hit a car driven by 62-year-old Worth R. Rummage, who was in town from North Carolina visiting family for Christmas.
Authorities say Rummage was trapped in his car and later died of his injuries.
Officers say Long was not injured. Prosecutors say he was high on the painkiller Lortab at the time of the crash.
He faces zero to five years in prison at sentencing April 14.
HELICOPTER TOURS-DRUG TEST VIOLATIONS
FAA: Utah helicopter company broke drug test rules
OGDEN, Utah (AP) — Federal officials are proposing a $55,000 fine against a Utah helicopter tour company accused of violating drug and alcohol testing regulations.
But Whirlybird Helicopters CEO Adam Wilkerson says the allegations against his company are a misunderstanding, and he plans to appeal.
Federal Aviation Administration officials say the Ogden-based company failed to conduct pre-employment drug tests on eight employees who were hired to perform safety-sensitive operations on the helicopters. The agency also says three of the employees weren't in Whirlybird's random drug testing pool as required by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Wilkerson says the employees were contracted and underwent the required drug testing through their primary company of employment.
Whirlybird has 30 days from the time they received notice of the fine to respond to the FAA.
COLLEGE STUDENT-HOUSE SEAT
Provo college student running for House seat
(Information in the following story is from: KSL-TV, http://www.ksl.com/)
PROVO, Utah (AP) — A 25-year-old college student from Provo hoping to get his peers more active in politics says he's running for Utah's Legislature.
Colby Johnson announced Monday he's running as a Republican for the Utah House District 63, which is currently represented by Republican Dean Sanpei.
Johnson tells KSL-TV that college students make up 84 percent of the district and he wants to engage them with his campaign.
The Utah Valley University student says his main goals are to inspire other students and engage them in the process.
Sanpei, a vice-president at Intermountain Healthcare, says in a statement that his experience helps him represent students and other citizens in the district.
He says he's proud of the support and trust he's received while representing the district for the last four years.
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.
Utah lawmakers honor Olympic bobsled medalist
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers took a break from their usual business on Monday afternoon to honor an Olympic bobsled medalist.
Park City native Steven Holcomb took home two bronze medals from this year's games in Sochi, Russia.
Holcomb on Monday walked out on the House floor with a welcome from Ogden Republican House Majority Leader Brad Dee.
Holcomb this month became the first U.S. bobsled driver in over 60 years to win two medals in the same games.
He also has a gold medal from the Vancouver games in 2010.
St. George Republican Rep. Steve Urquhart sent a tweet earlier in the day saying that if Utah were a country, it would have placed in the top ten for its medal count.
Holcomb was also honored on the Utah Senate floor Monday.
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