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GAY MARRIAGE-UTAH

Utah AG speaks at rally in favor of marriage ban

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes says his defense of Utah's same-sex marriage ban in a federal appeals court is not motivated by hate.

Reyes said Friday his office is defending Utah's right to define marriage as residents decide. The ban was passed by 66 percent of voters in 2004.

Reyes spoke during a rally at the Capitol attended by about 100 supporters of Utah's same-sex marriage ban.

They gathered to thank Reyes and stand up for what they called traditional marriage a day after a federal appeals court heard arguments about the constitutionality of the law.

Attorney generals in seven states have declined to defend same-sex marriage bans.

Speakers in Utah said marriages between a man and a woman are the only unions that ensure children are raised properly.

MEDICAID EXPANSION-UTAH

Utah Gov. says Medicaid negotiations progressing

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says talks with federal officials over a Medicaid expansion plan are progressing.

Herbert, a Republican, said Friday he hopes to reach an agreement with federal officials by the end of this summer. He is returning Monday to Washington, D.C. to continue negotiations.

He said he doesn't expect the resignation of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to have an effect on the talks.

He is seeking a chunk of federal money for a three-year pilot program to pay for about 110,000 people to buy private health insurance. But the governor has not outlined the details of his proposal or how much flexibility he's seeking.

An agreement with federal officials must also get approval from Utah's Legislature.

There is no deadline to approve a plan.

MORMONS-UKRAINE

Mormon missionaries transferred in Ukraine

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is transferring 85 missionaries to different parts of Ukraine due to civil unrest there.

The church said Friday that the missionaries are being moved from the Donetsk area to other regions in Ukraine.

Last month, the church ended missions early for 22 men and women serving in Ukraine so they could return to the United States.

The Salt Lake City-based church has several hundred missionaries and some 11,000 members in Ukraine. Worldwide, the church has about 15 million members and 84,600 missionaries.

Ukraine isn't the only country where the LDS church has to take action to protect missionaries. The church pulled 152 missionaries out of Venezuela in March because of unrest in the country.

RANGE SHOWDOWN

Ripples of Nevada range showdown spreading in West

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Images of a forced cattle roundup on a rural Nevada range have sent ripples through the West, prompting elected officials in several states to weigh in, militia members to mobilize and federal land managers to reshape elements of the operation.

Bureau of Land Management officials dismantled designated protest areas as the fight over Cliven Bundy's cattle widened into a debate about states' rights and federal land-use policy.

Nevada state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore said Friday that people are standing up for important land rights.

The Republican from Las Vegas says she's horrified that BLM police used stun guns on one of Bundy's sons during a Wednesday confrontation on a state highway.

Several Republican lawmakers from Arizona say they plan to travel to the site to protest what they call government heavy-handedness.

BYU GROPER-CHARGES

Charges filed related to BYU groping incidents

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a 22-year-old Brigham Young University student on suspicion of jogging up to women on campus and groping them as he ran past.

Provo City Prosecutor Steve Schreiner filed two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery Thursday against Nathan Eric Fletcher.

Police say he could face more charges as they continue to investigate 16 reports of assault since January.

Police cameras have captured at least one case of the groping, in which a jogger maintains his stride as he grabs a woman from the right side.

Court documents show Fletcher did not appear to have an attorney as of Friday afternoon.

Phone messages left at a number believed to be his were not immediately returned Friday.

Fletcher is scheduled to appear in court on May 1.

CUCKOO COMMENT

Government extends public comment period on cuckoo

DENVER (AP) — The government shutdown has led the Fish and Wildlife Service to extend the public comment period on a proposal that yellow-billed cuckoos found in the West be listed as threatened.

Steve Segin, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, noted Friday that the opening of the original public comment period coincided with the government shutdown last fall. The deadline, originally in December, was this week extended to April 25.

The service proposes listing the bird as threatened in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, and Washington in the United States and in Canada and Mexico.

The Denver Post reported Friday that the bird's numbers dropped from the thousands across the West to only 500 breeding pairs today, with 10 pairs in Colorado.

FATAL DUI-DRIVER SENTENCED

Woman, 26, sentenced in fatal Ogden DUI crash

OGDEN, Utah (AP) — A 26-year-old woman accused of killing another driver in Ogden while her blood alcohol was nearly four times the legal limit has been ordered to prison.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports Chelsey Lauran Raffield was sentenced Thursday to one to 15 years behind bars after pleading guilty to automobile homicide.

Ogden police say Raffield was going about 80 mph in a 30 mph zone when she ran through a stop sign and hit another car.

The 22-year-old driver of that car, Elsa Alonso, was killed.

Raffield suffered a broken ankle and other minor wounds.

She had previously been convicted of a DUI in November 2011.

TEACHER-STUDENT RELATIONSHIP-SENTENCE

Ex-teacher gets up to 20 years for sex with teen

FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) — A former teacher and basketball coach from Kaysville will serve up to 20 years in prison for carrying on a sexual relationship with his former student.

Thirty-four-year-old Stephen Paul Niedzwiecki was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty earlier this year to unlawful sexual activity with a minor and unlawful sexual activity with a 16- or 17-year-old.

He originally faced counts of forcible sodomy, attempted rape and forcible sexual abuse.

The victim, who is now 18, told police that the sexual abuse began in 2011, after she finished ninth grade at Jefferson Academy in Kaysville, and continued until the fall of 2012.

Prosecutors say Niedzwiecki "groomed" the girl while he was her teacher, but settled on lesser charges because he was no longer her teacher when the relationship turned sexual.

OVERDOSE PREVENTION

Utah Gov. to voice support for overdose laws

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is scheduled to emphasize his support for a new pair of drug overdose-related laws in a Friday ceremony.

Herbert's desk is the final stop for such legislative measures before they become law.

One of the new laws encourages drug users to report a friend who has overdosed.

Under the measure, calling 911 for such a companion would help people charged in drug cases because courts would consider it a mitigating circumstance.

The other law stipulates that people acting in good faith are immune from liability in giving Naloxone to a person who is having an opiate-related overdose.

In Utah, many addicts start with prescription opiates like Oxycontin but move to heroin because it's cheaper.

State figures show heroin deaths hit a 12-year high in 2012.

NAVAJO COUNCIL-REDSKINS

Navajo Nation Council opposes NFL team's name

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation Council formally has opposed the use of the Washington Redskins name.

The council's committee of the whole voted 9-2 Thursday on the measure sponsored by lawmaker Joshua Lavar Butler. He says the word can have negative psychological effects on American Indians.

The statement of opposition also applies to what Butler says are disparaging references to American Indians in other professional sports franchises.

It does not apply to college or high school mascots. The mascot for at least one high school on the Navajo Nation is the Redskins.

The final authority for the measure rests with the committee of the whole.

The president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association had urged lawmakers not to approve the measure. Peter MacDonald says the NFL team's name honors American Indians.

TEENAGER RESISTS ARREST

Teenager arrested after fight with school officer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Authorities have arrested a Utah high school student who is accused of attacking a school resource officer.

Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley says the incident began Thursday at Granger High School when the teen and other students became belligerent after they were given truancy notices.

After a school district police officer arrived, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior started yelling profanities and refused to go to the administration office.

As the teen become more aggressive, Horsley says the officer used his Taser but it didn't work. The teen and the officer wrestled on the ground, with the teen trying to grab the Taser.

After the teen was finally subdued, he was booked into juvenile detention center on suspicion of resisting arrest and trying to take an officer's weapon.

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

The Associated Press

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