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There have always been questions about the role of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah politics. Many say the Church’s influence is indirect, but former state lawmaker Carl Wimmer is questioning whether Church lobbyists on Capitol Hill go too far. Last month, he wrote that he was bullied when his stance on immigration diverged from his then Church’s position. Monday, we’re asking Wimmer and others how lawmakers decide whether to vote with their politics or with their faith.

Deadbeat Dams

Mar 31, 2015

When you hear that Tuesday’s guest advocates tearing down Glen Canyon Dam and doing away with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, you might imagine a monkey-wrenching environmentalist. But Daniel Beard is a former commissioner of the bureau, and he’s convinced we need new approaches to the water crisis he sees in the West. Beard is in Utah. He joins Doug to talk about the politics and economics he says add up to failed water policy and about his recommendations for dealing with drought and demand.

  Monday, we’re focusing on one of the most talked about bills of the 2015 legislative session: the LGBT anti-discrimination bill. Republican Representative Brad Dee called it the “Utah solution.” It was crafted with careful negotiation between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the LGBT community, and clarified exemptions for religious organizations. We’ll talk about the role the Church played in getting it passed and what the legislation does or doesn’t do for LGBT people and people of faith.

Friday, we’re live at the Hinckley Institute of Politics for a look back at the 2015 Utah legislative session. We’ll be joined by Republican House Speaker Greg Hughes, Democratic Senator Jim Dabakis, and observers to talk about the big issues and some smaller bills you may have missed. We’ll also look at how the sausage gets made and ask if conservative blogger Holly Richardson was right when she predicted the House would throw the best after-party.

Thierry Ehrmann via CC/Flickr, http://bit.ly/1Bo4c0j

  In his cover story for The Atlantic magazine, the journalist Graeme Wood puts the Islamic State under the microscope. What is it? Where did it come from, and what does it want? Wood argues that ISIS seeks to revert civilization to a “seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately bring about the apocalypse,” and it’s committed to killing vast numbers of people in the process. Wood joins us Monday to explore ISIS’s intellectual genealogy and to explain why it’s imperative the West better understand it.

Last week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made headlines by announcing its support of LGBT anti-discrimination laws. But leaders also expressed deep concern over religious liberty and called for laws to protect churches and individuals when acting “in accordance with their beliefs.” Wednesday, we’re gathering legal experts to answer questions at the heart of the Church’s statement: Is religious freedom at risk? Is there a conflict between anti-discrimination and religious liberty? And finally, is there a place for compromise?

Arbyredd via CC/Flickr, http://bit.ly/1wzGyNB

Utah legislators passed a bill two years ago demanding the federal government hand over millions of acres of public land to the state. With the deadline for that transfer looming, an economic report came out last week showing the plan could be financially viable—or it shows the land transfer is “half baked,” it depends which side you’re on. Thursday, we’re examining the arguments for and against Utah’s public lands campaign. Could it be a boon for the state or is it a reckless and unconstitutional pursuit?

Tuesday on RadioWest, we’re talking about the latest in the effort to reform the way political candidates are nominated in Utah. Lawmakers in the last legislative session passed a law that reduced the power of party delegates to select candidates. Opponents of the old system say that extremists in both parties have too much influence early on. Now, the state Republican Party is challenging that law and it’s setting up a struggle between the moderates and more conservative members of the party.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about religious freedom, and it seems to have intensified as gay marriages have become legal in many states. Sen Orrin Hatch calls judges “uniformly hostile to religion.” Pundits see Sen Ted Cruz building a presidential campaign on the idea that religious liberty has “never been in more peril.” But the researcher and activist Jay Michaelson says this is a political strategy to marshal allies in the ongoing culture wars. He’ll join us to dissect what he sees as a “covert campaign against civil rights.”

Monday, University of Utah President David Pershing joins us to continue our conversation about sexual assault on college campuses. We'll ask him how he's thinking about the issue as both leader of Utah's largest public university and as a father.  We'll then talk to journalist Robin Wilson and Westminster College's General Counsel Melissa Flores to discuss how it is that universities became responsible for handling assault cases and what new federal regulations mean for the way institutions protect their students.

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