Axios Salt Lake City
January 23, 2023
Good Monday morning!
- Today's weather: 🥶 Mostly sunny, with a high of 29°.
Situational awareness: Ross is officially giving up on sports in 2023, so he says. Will he stick with? Only time will tell.
Today's newsletter is 913 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: Gender-affirming health care targeted
A controversial bill that would prohibit gender-affirming health care and place a moratorium on puberty blockers for transgender children is moving quickly through the Utah Legislature.
Details: SB 16, sponsored by Sen. Michael Kennedy (R-Alpine) would also ban surgical procedures for minors "for the purpose of effectuating a sex change."
- It would allow patients to sue providers for prescribing hormone therapy and puberty blockers.
- Kennedy said he's proposing the bill to allow for more research on the long-term effects of gender-affirming health care.
Yes, but: Last year, the American Medical Association said the "government intrusion" into gender-affirming health care was "detrimental" to transgender children and adults.
- “Gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care that improves the physical and mental health of transgender and gender-diverse people," the AMA said in a statement.
The big picture: So far, 11 states, including Utah, have introduced similar bills this year.
The latest: The bill passed the Senate in a 27-7 final vote on Friday and now heads to the House.
The other side: "This could have potentially significant implications for the mental health of trans youth in Utah," James McGraw, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Bowling Green State University who studies mental health disparities among LGBTQ+ people, told Axios.
- Sen. Nate Blouin (D-Salt Lake City) on Friday read a letter from his legislative intern, who is transgender, opposing the bill.
- "Even before SB 16 has passed the Senate, this bill has already negatively impacted my health and well-being and is causing adverse effects on Utah’s trans community," he read.
- Democratic lawmakers also expressed concerns over the legal ramifications of the bill.
Flashback: Last year, the Legislature overrode a veto from Gov. Spencer Cox and passed a bill that banned transgender girls from competing in school sports matching their gender identity.
- Its implementation is currently on pause amid a lawsuit.
2. 🚌 School vouchers don't match costs
The vast majority of Salt Lake County's private schools cost more than the $8,000 vouchers being proposed in a new bill that's moving through the state Legislature.
Details: The bill calls for $42.5 million to cover tuition and administration for a "Utah Fits All Scholarship Program" — enough for about 5,000 students to get the $8,000.
- The same bill also gives public school teachers a $6,000 raise.
Why it matters: If vouchers don't cover the cost of private schools, it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy for schools that not all kids can afford to attend.
Driving the news: An Axios analysis of nearly 40 private schools in Salt Lake County shows very few charged less than $8,000 per year in tuition and fees.
- That includes just eight of 33 private kindergartens whose costs were available, four of 28 elementary and middle schools and no private high schools.
- Parents would have to kick in more than $1,500 for an 8th grader to attend most of the county's private middle schools and at least $3,600 at all but one of the high schools.
The latest: Utah's voucher bill, sponsored by Republicans Rep. Candice Pierucci and Sen. Kirk Cullimore, passed the House 54-20 on Friday.
- It now moves to a Senate committee.
Catch up quick: A similar bill failed in the House last year, and Gov. Spencer Cox said he'd veto it if it passed.
- Yes, but: Cox said in December he'd be open to signing a voucher bill if public school teachers also got a pay raise, which the new legislation calls for.
Flashback: Legislators last approved vouchers in 2007, but voters later rejected the law in a referendum.
The big picture: Utah is one of at least 10 states considering vouchers this year.
3. Fry Sauce: Chow down on this news
⛽ Four of Utah's five refineries now produce cleaner gasoline. (The Salt Lake Tribune)
- The refinery in Woods Cross will follow by 2024.
🚗 A Utah lawmaker is sponsoring a bill to recognize a pregnant woman using the HOV lane as two occupants. (KUTV)
💧 Utahns could soon apply for a Great Salt Lake license plate that would generate revenue for efforts to save the lake under a new bill. (Deseret News)
🎥 A Sundance movie screening was evacuated Saturday at the Rose Wagner theater in Salt Lake City after multiple attendees developed health problems. (FOX 13)
- Fire officials said the health problems were "unrelated" to each other and let the audience return to the theater after checking for gas leaks and other hazards.
4. 🍿 "Fair Play" hype
"Fair Play" has emerged as one of the top movies at the Sundance Film Festival.
Details: The financial thriller centers around a recently engaged couple, Emily ("Bridgerton's" Phoebe Dynevor) and Luke ("Solo's" Alden Ehrenreich), who work at the same cutthroat hedge fund and keep their relationship under wraps.
- After Emily gets a promotion over Luke, their relationship unravels and underlines how power dynamics and gender roles intersect in the workplace and in our private lives.
The latest: The film, directed by Chloe Domont, currently has multiple bidders seeking the title that could result in an 8-figure deal, per Deadline.
- This is Domont's first feature.
Kim's thought bubble: I was at the edge of my seat throughout the film.
What's next: The movie is playing in Park City on Jan. 24 at Redstone Cinemas and at The Ray Theatre on Jan. 26.
On the job hunt?
5. 👀 Where in Salt Lake?
These week's "Where in Salt Lake?" is saucy on multiple levels! Do you know where it is?
📬 Hit reply to this email to submit your guess. The first person to correctly guess the location of this mural will win some Axios swag!
- Good luck!
🎭 Kim LOL'd at Josh Gondelman's set at WiseGuys on Saturday.
⛷Erin is gradually recovering her courage on the slopes, turn by turn.
This newsletter was edited by Ross Terrell and copy edited by Egan Millard.