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Utah lawmakers take up batch of air quality bills

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Measures to clear Utah's murky wintertime skies are working their way through the state Legislature.

But with only a week left in the 2014 legislative session, it's unclear how many of the pending proposals will secure final approval from lawmakers.

Salt Lake City Democrat Rep. Joel Briscoe says legislators are heeding calls from Utah residents sick of the smog.

Proposals on the table include a $20 million push for clean-fuel school busses, clean replacements for wood-burning stoves and further reach for state air quality regulators trying to limit environment and public health risks.

But some of the proposals, including a tax credit for those buying commuter light rail passes in bad air months, have died.

The still-pending measures must also be signed by the governor to become law.


Senate panel advances pot extract for kids bill

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Senate committee has approved a bill that would allow parents of children with severe epilepsy to legally obtain a marijuana-derived extract they say helps with seizures.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 4-0 on Thursday morning to approve the bill. It moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Approval there clears the way for it head to Gov. Gary Herbert's desk.

The measure is sponsored by Huntsville Republican Rep. Gage Froerer.

The extract oil, which is grown in neighboring Colorado, is believed by many to help children with a rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome.

Froerer's bill would allow Utah families to bring the oil back to Utah if they have a neurologist's consent.

The extract contains less than half a percent of THC, the hallucinogenic chemical found in marijuana.


Bill to make cockfighting a felony moves forward

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A bill to make cockfighting a felony instead of just a misdemeanor is moving forward in the Utah Legislature.

The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to advance SB 112 to the House floor. It passed the Senate last month.

Utah Humane Society officials called cockfighting a gruesome and bloody sport for people who enjoy watching animals suffer.

But some game fowl breeders told the committee the law is vague enough that they could be penalized for raising birds for show.

Democratic bill sponsor Sen. Gene Davis of Salt Lake City says Utah is the only Western state where cockfighting isn't a felony.

The sport is a misdemeanor on the first offense and a third-degree felony on the second offense.


Utah bill would reduce school absence penalties

(Information in the following story is from: The Salt Lake Tribune,

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers are advancing a bill that reduces the consequences for students who skip school, as long as they keep their grades up.

A House committee on Wednesday voted 11-2 to approve the measure.

Mapleton Republican Rep. Francis Gibson brings the bill geared toward students who are at least 16 and have a minimum grade point average of 3.5.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports the measure would keep those students from going to juvenile court for the absences. The court is usually a school's last resort after first sending letters home to parents.

Gibson says schools could still enforce their own penalties, such as barring students with poor attendance from graduating.

The measure goes to the full House for approval.


Police 2 of 4 runaways from Draper youth center

DRAPER, Utah (AP) — Authorities say they've found two of the four teen boys who ran away from a center for troubled teens in Draper.

Police say an 18-year-old and a 17-year-old boy were found at an Orem gas station Wednesday, less than a day after vanishing from the Genesis Youth Center. Police Lt. Craig Martinez says a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old were still missing Wednesday, and are believed to be in or near Salt Lake City.

Martinez says the four boys may have been picked up by someone driving a stolen vehicle. The vehicle was not with the boys when they were found at the gas station.

Arrest warrants had been issued for the teens, who had been wearing dark green sweatshirts, basketball shoes and dark green shorts of sweatpants.


New stadium name for Utah's Triple-A baseball team

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake City's minor league baseball team has renamed its stadium.

The Bees announced Wednesday that the 15,000-seat facility will now be called "Smith's Ballpark."

The grocery store chain, Smith's Food and Drug Stores Inc., signed a six-year deal to take over naming rights at the stadium. The company began with one store in Brigham City, Utah in 1932 and now has 47 stores.

The stadium was previously called SpringMobile Ballpark. It opened in 1994.

The Salt Lake Bees are the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. They open their season on April 3.

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