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GAY MARRIAGE-APPEALS COURT

Republican group shows support for gay marriage

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A group of current and former Republican lawmakers say they support making same-sex marriage legal in Utah and Oklahoma because it's consistent with Western conservative values of freedom and liberty.

A group that includes former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming and former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas plan to file a friend of the court brief Tuesday to a federal appeals court in Denver that is reviewing same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma.

A draft provided to The Associated Press shows they cite beliefs from former President Ronald Reagan and former Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona.

Denver attorney Sean Gallagher, whose firm wrote the 30-page argument, says many Republicans are re-examining their stance on gay marriage.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has hearings in mid-April for both cases.

MEDICAID EXPANSION-UTAH

Utah governor hopes for Medicaid deal soon

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gov. Gary Herbert says he hopes to come to an agreement on Medicaid expansion with legislators before their annual session wraps up next week.

Herbert made the comments to reporters on Tuesday while discussing his plan to expand Medicaid by seeking federal money to help 111,000 low-income Utah residents get private health coverage.

Herbert says he's open to ideas from the House and Senate and wouldn't be surprised if Utah's final plan is a mix of ideas from the Legislature and his office.

The Republican governor says it's possible the issue could be taken up during a special session.

If legislators sign on to Herbert's proposal, he'd still need federal approval.

LIQUOR LAWS

Utah lawmaker brings bill to remove 'Zion curtain'

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A proposal to kill one of Utah's most notable liquor laws is coming back to the state legislature.

Heber City Republican Rep. Kraig Powell revives an effort to take down restaurant walls blocking alcoholic drink mixing from public view.

Mormon church leaders this year are asking legislators to stay away from liquor laws.

But Powell says newly compiled data show Utah's current liquor laws aren't doing much to help the state. He says they hinder businesses in his district, which includes Park City.

A similar measure to dismantle the so-called "Zion curtains" died last year in the Senate.

Current law mandates that only some restaurants need to put up the barrier. Critics say the patchwork rule is unfair.

A Senate committee is expected to consider the bill Tuesday afternoon.

21 TO SMOKE-UTAH

Utah lawmakers kill bill raising smoking age to 21

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah legislators have killed a bill that could have made their state the first in the country to raise the age for legal tobacco purchases to 21.

Similar measures have been introduced in a handful of other states this year, but it is unclear how many still have momentum.

The state-level proposals follow a precedent-setting New York City regulation last year that put the legal age for tobacco purchases at 21.

The Utah Senate voted 12-16 against the bill Monday, arguing that the proposal infringes on the rights of legal adults to purchase a legal product.

Utah is already among a handful of states that ban sales for those younger 19 years old, instead of 18.

OFFICER PURSUITS-PROTECTIONS

Utah considers granting police more protection

(Information in the following story is from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A measure moved forward in the Utah legislature that would make it more difficult for people to sue officers that were involved in high-speed pursuits.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Senate voted 15-13 to pass the measure on Tuesday. The House will now vote on the measure since it was amended.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Todd Weiler of Woods Cross, says police need more protection from people who initiate chases and then file lawsuits related to death or injuries.

But Republican Sen. Mark Madsen of Eagle Mountain says the measure gives police too much leeway. He says it could lead to reckless behavior by police and leave people injured in pursuits with no way to get justice against police who don't follow rules and protocol.

MISSING GIRL-WEST VALLEY CITY

West Valley police find missing 12-year-old girl

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) — West Valley City police say they're investigating what happened during the night while a 12-year-old special education student was missing.

Deputy police chief Mike Powell says tipsters called Tuesday morning to say they'd found a girl on the side of the road who was confused, cold and looked like the missing Ashley Esquivel.

Police say the girl was taken to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia, and she was later identified as Esquivel, who's a student at American Preparatory School.

The girl was reported missing Monday evening when her mother went to pick her up from a school activity and couldn't find her.

Her case touched off a large search that included door-to-door visits, K-9 units and a helicopter.

Powell says Esquivel was found several miles from the school.

DIVORCE CLASSES

Utah lawmakers advance divorce class bill

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah proposal to help more couples save their marriages is advancing in the state legislature.

A Senate committee voted 4-2 Monday to approve the measure from Bountiful Republican Rep. Jim Nielson.

The bill would strengthen a requirement for divorcing parents who have children under 18. It would have them take a class on divorce and how it affects children earlier on in the legal process, before a court grants custody or financial orders.

Opponents of the bill say once couples reach the class, they will likely go through with the divorce.

Utah was the first state to require that parents complete such a class in 1994.

The 2014 measure now advances to the full Senate. It must be signed by the governor to become law.

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.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press

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