Gehrke: Here comes an initiative to get rid of party nominating conventions and it could revolutionize Utah politics

September 15, 2017 (Salt Lake Tribune) -

Surveys by the nonpartisan Utah Foundation have demonstrated that delegates from both parties are far more strident than the average Utahn and that women, in the GOP in particular, are vastly under-represented. Under the old system, delegates were the only people who mattered, so ditching the signature path when the Legislature meets again in January would make those delegates very happy — which also benefits the lawmakers they would elect. Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday … Continued

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Jay Evensen: A fight Utah’s Republican leaders should abandon

September 13, 2017 (Deseret News) -

Research has shown that Republican voters and Republican convention delegates don’t always see eye-to-eye. In 2012, the Utah Foundation found that 51 percent of party voters identified as conservative, compared with 61 percent of delegates. Women, in particular, tend to be underrepresented at conventions. More importantly, however, party members and leaders often differ in candidate selection.

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In our opinion: 3rd District primary retaught Utahns important lessons

August 19, 2017 (Deseret News) -

Numerous surveys through the years have shown that this split is not new. Most recently, the Utah Foundation, an independent research group, found in 2016 that Republican delegates are more politically homogeneous than registered party members statewide, and that the two groups have different priorities. For instance, Republican voters listed health care as their top priority, while delegates listed states’ rights. Representation also is skewed. Women made up 56 percent of the Republican electorate but … Continued

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Commentary: Remember Utah’s indispensable coal counties

August 09, 2017 (Salt Lake Tribune) -

This year, Utah Foundation has focused squarely on the fate of one group of Utahns who have long filled the ranks of the state’s indispensable citizens – its coal industry workers. As our Coal Counties report series demonstrates, their industry is changing quickly, along with the prospects for the counties they live in. About 1,000 people work in Utah’s coal mines. Another 1,500 people work in Utah’s five coal-fueled power plants. Beyond those numbers, trucking … Continued

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Report: Utah’s coal industry fading while more eco-friendly outdoor recreation surges

July 27, 2017 (Salt Lake Tribune) -

Compiled by alliance volunteer Doris Schmidt, the new report taps economic data from Utah and federal agencies and a recent three-part report by the nonprofit Utah Foundation. The document lists a litany of grim statistics for coal that are not new, but rather cast a new light on Utah’s official call to shrink the Staircase monument to exclude the coal-bearing Kaiparowits Plateau. Nationally, 50 coal producers have gone bankrupt since 2012, while just six of the … Continued

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Head of Utah Legislative Research and General Counsel retiring

July 25, 2017 ( -

  The longtime head of the Utah Legislature’s largest staff agency, Mike Christensen, is retiring Aug. 11 after 17 years as the director. Christensen, 70, has a long history of public service, both inside and outside of government itself. Christensen played tennis for Utah State University (believe me, you don’t want to look down the service of a 6-foot-6 college tennis player, I have), and soon after graduation went to work for the Legislative Research and General … Continued

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Op-ed: Why Utah really is the place

July 23, 2017 (Deseret News) -

To operate from a position of hope is to rebel against that message. It is rebellion to say: It is possible for us to find solutions to our common problems. By providing information to help make those solutions possible, Utah Foundation stands at the forefront of that hopeful, common-ground rebellion. And, after all, who doesn’t believe in efficient, effective government? Who doesn’t want a thriving economy, a well-prepared workforce and a high-quality of life for … Continued

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Utah Foundation wins top awards at GRA national meeting

July 20, 2017 ( -

Utah Foundation staff won the Most Distinguished Research Award for its 2016 Utah Priorities Project from the Governmental Research Association at its annual meeting in Salt Lake City. The Utah Priorities Project looked at the key concerns of candidates, party convention delegates, and voters during the 2016 election cycle. More information about the Utah Priorities project is available at Utah Foundation’s new president, Peter Reichard, was among those also recognized with the Most Distinguished … Continued

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To help vulnerable seniors during heat waves, Meals on Wheels is adding fans to the menu

July 18, 2017 (Salt Lake Tribune) -

The elderly population in Utah is growing rapidly. In 2015, people 65 and older made up a little more than 10 percent of the state’s population. In 50 years, that group is expected to grow to 20 percent, according to a projection by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah. It’s important for people to be able to age at home in order to stay healthy, according to Shawn Teigen, research … Continued

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BYU students not as conservative as some think

July 07, 2017 (Daily Universe) -

Political issues and social issues often intersect, as seen in a 2015 study by the Utah Foundation that found Utahns who identify as liberal are 21 percent more likely to support gay rights than moderates and 30 percent more likely to support gay rights than conservatives. JD Goates is the current president of Understanding Same-Gender Attraction, an unofficial BYU organization that meets at the Provo Library. The organization is politically neutral, but Goates thinks the … Continued

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State senator may get into mayor’s race, and other area political news

July 02, 2017 (New Orleans Advocate) -

The Bureau of Governmental Research has promoted longtime staff member Stephen Stuart to vice president and research director. He succeeds Peter Reichard, who is leaving for Salt Lake City, where he will be president of the Utah Foundation, a group that says it offers “thorough, well-supported research” on public policy issues and makes “practical, well-reasoned recommendations for policy change” — pretty much what BGR does. Stuart has been with BGR for 15 years, most recently … Continued

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Op-ed: Hatch and Noel are caught up in a coal pipe dream

June 11, 2017 (Salt Lake Tribune) -

Hatch and Noel blindly advocate for coal development, regardless of facts and figures showing declining coal production and consumption. As the country transitions toward natural gas and renewable resources, coal is becoming obsolete. A 2017 Utah Foundation study shows our state following the national trend, regardless of Utah’s high dependence on coal. These economic trends are further reflected in other areas where coal is king, as in Appalachia. Cheaper energy has forced the coal industry … Continued

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Sexual Harassment, School Vouchers and more

June 07, 2017 (City Weekly) -

Despite the toxic rhetoric from @realDonaldTrump and Rep. Mike Noel, there likely is a future for something other than coal. The Deseret News has been following a series from Utah Foundation on the future of coal, and despite optimism, it just isn’t good. Diversification is likely the key, and that might take some buy-in from the state government. Unemployment in coal country is 50 percent higher than the state as a whole, making the issue … Continued

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Our Schools Now wants to put tax hike for education on the ballot in 2018

June 06, 2017 (Fox 13 News) -

The process to get on the 2018 ballot is just beginning. With the paperwork filed, the Lt. Governor’s Office will review the proposed language and draft a fiscal note. Then, Our Schools Now will have to conduct seven public hearings across the state in July. After that, they have to gather 113,000 signatures in 26 of Utah’s 29 senate districts. Once those are reviewed, and if they are approved, the “Teacher & Student Success Act” … Continued

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Peter Reichard appointed President of Utah Foundation

June 05, 2017 ( -

The Utah Foundation Board of Trustees has appointed Peter Reichard as the organization’s new president. Reichard will take over from long-time President Steve Kroes on July 1, 2017. Reichard comes to Utah Foundation after 15 years with the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans, where he served as Director of Research. He is currently president of the Governmental Research Association (GRA), the national organization of governmental research professionals, and he has served as a GRA … Continued

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Utah Foundation announces new president

June 05, 2017 (Salt Lake Tribune) -

Peter Reichard has been named president of the Utah Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization based in Salt Lake City. Reichard, a former journalist, will take over July 1, replacing longtime president Steve Kroes, who is retiring after 16 years in the post. Reichard has for the last 15 years served as director of research for the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans. He also is president of the Governmental Research Association (GRA), a national … Continued

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Utah’s coal counties look to alternatives for future economic development

June 01, 2017 ( -

Seven of Utah’s 29 counties depend heavily on coal mining and electricity production from coal. But their future prosperity may depend on finding alternatives to coal and the high-paying jobs it provides in the state’s rural economy. Utah’s Coal Communities, the third report in Utah Foundation’s series on Utah’s coal industry and the communities that depend on it, looks at the long-term future of communities that depend on coal today. As David Bird, a lawyer … Continued

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Utah’s coal country: Long-term survival rests with diversification

June 01, 2017 (Deseret News) -

The Intermountain Power Plant built 30 years ago in Millard County was the biggest project ever constructed in Utah, generating $500 million over its history and creating an energy hub for the rural area. It is also a great gobbler of coal, consuming 4.4 million tons in the last fiscal year, or roughly a third of Utah’s production, to power Southern California homes and businesses. In this community traditionally linked to farming and ranching, the … Continued

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New report explores long term future of Utah’s coal counties

June 01, 2017 (KTVX) -

A new report is helping state, and local leaders get ahead of the uncertain future of coal. Seven Utah counties depend heavily on coal mining and production. The Utah Foundation report identifies ways to adjust to a new reality. From decreased demand, to easier mining techniques, rural Utah has been hit hard. “Utah has lost hundreds of jobs in these communities in this industry, and natural resources in the last year, two or three years,” … Continued

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Backers of initiative to increase school funding will seek both income and sales tax boost

May 31, 2017 ( -

If ultimately approved by voters, the petition would raise the state’s portion of the sales tax from 4.7 percent to 5.2 percent. The local option sales taxes imposed by cities, towns, and counties would not be increased, neither would the transit district local option sales tax. The petition, if approved, would raise the current 5 percent flat-rate income tax rate to 5.5 percent. The corporate state income tax rate of 5 percent would not be increased. Herbert … Continued

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Lack of Workers, Not Work, Weighs on the Nation’s Economy

May 21, 2017 (New York Times) -

After eight years of steady growth, the main economic concern in Utah and a growing number of other states is no longer a lack of jobs, but a lack of workers. The unemployment rate here fell to 3.1 percent in March, among the lowest figures in the nation. Nearly a third of the 388 metropolitan areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have an unemployment rate below 4 percent, well below the level that … Continued

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Op-ed: Building energy efficiency to improve air quality

May 21, 2017 (Salt Lake Tribune) -

In the Utah Foundation’s 2016 Utah Priorities Project survey, Utah voters statewide ranked air quality as the second most important issue in 2016, and voters along the Wasatch Front ranked air quality as the number one most important issue. This won’t be news to anyone. In fact, the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2017 report ranks the Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem area as the seventh worst in the U.S. for shorter-term spikes in particle … Continued

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National Monuments: A Sober Discussion

May 18, 2017 (GearJunkie) -

And it’s hardly a coincidence that Trump’s executive order extends back to 1996, the year President Bill Clinton created the controversial Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. Among other things, the 1.7-million-acre designation essentially put the kibosh on a proposed coal project in the now-protected Kaiparowits Plateau. The return of such projects is not inevitable, though. It depends on the economic incentives and a company’s willingness to invest in land that might carry heightened … Continued

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Utah Foundation: Construction, Technology Fields Short-Staffed; Social Expectations To Blame

May 15, 2017 (Utah Public Radio) -

A new report released in May by the Utah Foundation shows that several skill-intensive industries in Utah are hard-pressed for new-hires with the right skills. While local employers can fill bachelor-level positions relatively quickly, Utahns lack skills in construction, technology and trades. Christopher Collard, a research analyst with the Utah Foundation, said social expectations play a role in the gap. “There’s this expectation that to be successful you have to have a four-year degree,” he … Continued

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In our Opinion: Utah isn’t producing enough trained workers

May 11, 2017 (Deseret News) -

News about Utah’s economy has been mostly positive in recent years, reflecting a steady rise from the 2008 recession with the expansion of new businesses and declining unemployment. But lurking in the data is a trend that threatens to derail that impressive trajectory. Utah is increasingly facing a shortage of qualified workers in fields requiring both high and low skill levels, with more than two-thirds of all employers saying they are currently having a hard … Continued

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