Utah election law reins in tea party – By Mark Z. Barabak March 26, 2014, 7:15 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Four years ago, the fledgling tea party claimed one of its first and greatest victories in Utah, ousting the state’s veteran Republican senator in a thunderclap of anti-incumbent anger.

Now the establishment has struck back, with a new law giving more voters a say in nominating the candidates for public office.

The measure, signed this month, amounts to a compromise in a fight to limit the influence of grass-roots activists and others bent on purging the GOP of all but the most ideologically pure.

Under the agreement, primary candidates can still be chosen, as they long have been, at party conventions, attended by just a few thousand delegates chosen at neighborhood meetings. But others can bypass delegates and appeal directly to voters if they collect enough signatures to make the ballot. Those unaffiliated with a party, a big chunk of Utah’s electorate, will also be allowed to vote in Republican primaries.

The aim is the election of more mainstream, politically pragmatic lawmakers and “not just one person pushed into office by a select, small group of individuals,” said Lane Beattie, head of the Salt Lake Chamber and a former Republican state Senate president, who helped broker the compromise signed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert.
The change will take effect in 2016, when Republican Sen. Mike Lee, a tea party favorite who replaced three-term incumbent Robert Bennett after a raucous 2010 convention, faces reelection. Lee was not an explicit target, backers of the election overhaul say, but his provocative actions — including a leading role in last year’s government shutdown — helped garner support for the change at the same time it soured voters on his performance.

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The Schools That Starve Students to Punish Deadbeat Parents – U.S. NEWS 01.30.14

Salt Lake City snatched 40 lunches from hungry students and threw them away because their meal cards weren’t paid up. Sadly, other schools do the same.

Picture this. School-age children with rumbling tummies move their styrofoam trays in an orderly lunch line. It’s Tuesday, and at Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City that means one thing for excited youngsters: pizza day. Students fill their trays with deep-dish pepperoni slices and napa salad and head to the lunch lady for checkout.That’s when tragedy struck for about 40 of Utah’s smallest residents, according toThe Salt Lake Tribune. If a student’s lunch money account wasn’t paid up, the cafeteria workers were instructed to confiscate the child’s lunch. Because of sanitary issues the lunch couldn’t be given to another student, so it was thrown away instead, while a hungry child watched.

The child was then sent on his or her way, with a piece of fruit and a carton of milk.

The problem that the district-imposed hunger strike was meant to fix was a “large number of students” with zero or negative balances in the accounts that kids use to purchase the $2.00 lunches.  Staff began a campaign to call parents to settle up, but not all the calls had been made by lunchtime and for those kids, it was tough luck.

The Utah lunch line story has gone viral, and for good reason—it’s almost inconceivable.  In what world does this begin to make sense? Just how much could a parent owe that would warrant embarrassing and basically, starving, small children? And why would you punish a child for the transgressions of his parent?

Parents described the incident as “traumatic and humiliating” for their kids. Lunch ladies were reportedly in tears being forced carry out a directive that goes against the entire purpose of their work.

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Utah Gay Weddings Begin Right After Judge Overturns Same-Sex Marriage Ban By BRADY McCOMBS and PAUL FOY 12/21/13 04:29 AM ET EST

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Utah Gay Weddings

 SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Elisa Noel rushed to the county clerk’s office with her partner immediately after learning that a federal judge overturned Utah’s ban on gay marriage. They waited in line for a wedding license and were married in an impromptu ceremony punctuated with Noel giving the officiant a high-five.

“I can’t believe this is Utah,” Noel said moments after a ceremony that took place about 3 miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church.

Others had a similar reaction after a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby that declared Utah’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The recent appointee by President Barack Obama said the ban violates the constitutional rights of gay couples and ruled Utah failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way.

The ruling prompted a frenzy of activity by lawyers and gay couples. The Republican governor blasted the ruling as going against the will of the people. Gay couples rushed to the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office en masse to secure marriage licenses, waiting in line by the dozens and getting married on the spot by the mayor and ministers.

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Gary Herbert, Utah Governor, Expresses Concern Over Polygamy Ruling 12/15/13 11:28 PM ET EST


gary herbert utah polygamy

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gov. Gary Herbert has expressed concern over a federal judge’s ruling that struck down key parts of Utah’s polygamy laws, saying his legal counsel would determine the ramifications of the decision.

Herbert says while he had not had a chance to review U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups’ ruling, he’s “always a little concerned” when public policy changes are made by the courts.

The Republican governor told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1bIUoQd ) he would “much rather see decisions on social issues” made by the Legislature, but he still needs “to understand the arguments and logic” that went into the ruling.

Waddoups, a nominee of President George W. Bush, said in his decision handed down Friday that a provision in Utah law forbidding cohabitation with another person violated the First Amendment.

The ruling was a victory for Kody Brown and his four wives who star in the hit TLC reality show “Sister Wives.” The Brown family sued over Utah’s bigamy laws in July 2011 and fled Utah for Las Vegas last year under the threat of prosecution.

Polygamy supporters have hailed the judge’s ruling, saying it decriminalizes the practice in Utah.