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Utah ( /ˈjuːtɔː/ or i /ˈjuːtɑː/) is a western state of the United States. It was the 45th state admitted to the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,736,424 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the sixth most urbanized in the U.S. The name "Utah" is derived from the name of the Ute tribe and means "people of the mountains." in Ute. Utah is bordered by Arizona on the south, Colorado on the east, Wyoming on the northeast, Idaho on the north and Nevada on the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico.
Utah is one of the most religiously homogeneous states in the Union. Between 41% and 60% of Utahns are reported to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church), which greatly influences Utah culture and daily life.
The state is a center of transportation, information technology and research, government services, mining, and a major tourist destination for outdoor recreation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's population estimates, Utah was the fastest growing state in the United States as of 2008. St. George, Utah, was the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000–2005.
Following the assassination of Joseph Smith, Jr., in Carthage, Illinois, in 1844, the more than 11,000 Latter Day Saints remaining in Nauvoo, IL struggled in conflict with neighbors until Brigham Young, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, emerged as the leader of the largest portion. (See Succession crisis.)
Brigham Young and the first band of Mormon pioneers came to the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Over the next 22 years, more than 70,000 pioneers crossed the plains and settled in Utah.
For the first few years Brigham Young and the thousands of early settlers of Salt Lake City struggled to survive. The barren desert land was deemed by the Mormons as desirable as a place they could practice their religion without interference.
Utah was the source of many pioneer settlements located elsewhere in the West. Salt Lake City was the hub of a "far-flung commonwealth" of Mormon settlements. Fed by a constant supply of church converts coming from the East and around the world, Church leaders often assigned groups of church members to establish settlements throughout the West. Beginning with settlements along Utah's Wasatch front (Salt Lake City, Bountiful and Weber Valley, and Provo and Utah Valley), irrigation enabled the establishment of fairly large pioneer populations in an area that Jim Bridger had advised Young would be inhospitable for the cultivation of crops because of frost. Throughout the remainder of the 1800s, Mormon pioneers called by Brigham Young would leave Salt Lake City and establish hundreds of other settlements in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, California, Canada, and Mexico - including in Las Vegas, Nevada; Franklin, Idaho (the first white settlement in Idaho); San Bernardino, California; Star Valley, Wyoming; and Carson Valley, Nevada.
Prominent settlements in Utah included St. George, Logan, and Manti (where settlers raised the first three temples in Utah, each built many years before the larger and better known temple built in Salt Lake City was completed in 1892), as well as Parowan, Cedar City, Bluff, Moab, Vernal, Fillmore (which served as the territorial capital between 1850 and 1856), Nephi, Levan, Spanish Fork, Springville, Provo Bench (now Orem), Pleasant Grove, American Fork, Lehi, Sandy, Murray, Jordan, Centerville, Farmington, Huntsville, Kaysville, Grantsville, Tooele, Roy, Brigham City, and many other smaller towns and settlements. Young had an expansionist's view of the territory that he and the Mormon pioneers were settling, calling it Deseret - which according to the Book of Mormon was supposed to have translated into "honeybee" - hence the beehive which can still be found on the Utah flag, and the state's motto, "Industry."
Utah was Mexican territory when the first pioneers arrived in 1847. Early in the Mexican-American War in late 1846, the United States had captured New Mexico and California, and the whole Southwest became U.S. territory upon the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, February 2, 1848. The treaty was ratified by the United States Senate on March 11. The Utah Territory was created with the Compromise of 1850, and Fillmore was designated the capital. It was given the name Utah after the Ute tribe of Native Americans. Salt Lake City replaced Fillmore as the territorial capital in 1856.
Disputes between the Mormon inhabitants and the US Government intensified due to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' practice of plural marriage among its members. The Mormons were pushing for the establishment of the State of Deseret. The U.S. Government, which was reluctant to admit a state the size of the proposed Deseret into the union, opposed the polygamous practices of the Mormons.
Members of the LDS Church were viewed as un-American and rebellious when news of their polygamous practices spread. In 1857, after rumors of rebellion spread, the government sent troops on the "Utah expedition" to quell the supposed rebellion and to replace Brigham Young as territorial governor with Alfred Cumming. The resulting conflict is known as the Utah War.
As troops approached Salt Lake in northern Utah, nervous Mormon settlers attacked and killed 120 immigrants from Arkansas in southern Utah. The attack became known as the Mountain Meadows massacre. The massacre became a point of contention between LDS leaders and the federal government for decades. Only one person, John D. Lee, was ever convicted of the murders, and he was executed at the massacre site.
Before troops led by Albert Sidney Johnston entered the territory, Brigham Young ordered all residents of Salt Lake City to evacuate southward to Utah Valley and sent out a force, known as the Nauvoo Legion, to delay the government's advance. Although wagons and supplies were burned, eventually the troops arrived, and Young surrendered official control to Cumming, although most subsequent commentators claim that Young retained true power in the territory. A steady stream of governors appointed by the president quit the position, often citing the traditions of their supposed territorial government. By agreement with Young, Johnston established Fort Floyd 40 miles (60 km) away from Salt Lake City, to the southwest.
Salt Lake City was the last link of the First Transcontinental Telegraph, completed in October 1861. Brigham Young was among the first to send a message, along with Abraham Lincoln and other officials.
Because of the American Civil War, federal troops were pulled out of Utah Territory, leaving the territory in LDS hands until Patrick E. Connor arrived with a regiment of California volunteers in 1862. Connor established Fort Douglas just 3 miles (5 km) east of Salt Lake City and encouraged his people to discover mineral deposits to bring more non-Mormons into the state. Minerals were discovered in Tooele County and miners began to flock to the territory.
Beginning in 1865, Utah's Black Hawk War developed into the deadliest conflict in the territory's history. Chief Antonga Black Hawk died in 1870, but fights continued to break out until additional federal troops were sent in to suppress the Ghost Dance of 1872. The war is unique among Indian Wars because it was a three-way conflict, with mounted Timpanogos Utes led by Antonga Black Hawk exploited by federal and LDS authorities.
On May 10, 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed at Promontory Summit, north of the Great Salt Lake. The railroad brought increasing numbers of people into the state and several influential businesspeople made fortunes in the territory.
During the 1870s and 1880s laws were passed to punish polygamists, and in the 1890 Manifesto, the LDS Church banned polygamy. When Utah applied for statehood again it was accepted. One of the conditions for granting Utah statehood was that a ban on polygamy be written into the state constitution. This was a condition required of other western states that were admitted into the Union later. Statehood was officially granted on January 4, 1896.
Beginning in the early 1900s, with the establishment of such national parks as Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, Utah became known for its natural beauty. Southern Utah became a popular filming spot for arid, rugged scenes, and such natural landmarks as Delicate Arch and "the Mittens" of Monument Valley are instantly recognizable to most national residents. During the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, with the construction of the Interstate highway system, accessibility to the southern scenic areas was made easier.
Beginning in 1939, with the establishment of Alta Ski Area, Utah has become world-renowned for its skiing. The dry, powdery snow of the Wasatch Range is considered some of the best skiing in the world (thus the license plate, "the Greatest Snow on Earth"). Salt Lake City won the bid for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in 1995, and this has served as a great boost to the economy. The ski resorts have increased in popularity, and many of the Olympic venues scattered across the Wasatch Front continue to be used for sporting events. This also spurred the development of the light-rail system in the Salt Lake Valley, known as TRAX, and the re-construction of the freeway system around the city.
During the late 20th century, the state grew quickly. In the 1970s growth was phenomenal in the suburbs. Sandy was one of the fastest-growing cities in the country at that time. Today, many areas of Utah are seeing phenomenal growth. Northern Davis, southern and western Salt Lake, Summit, eastern Tooele, Utah, Wasatch, and Washington counties are all growing very quickly. Transportation and urbanization are major issues in politics as development consumes agricultural land and wilderness areas.
Utah is generally rocky with three distinct geological regions: the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau. Utah is a great geographical tourism site. Utah is known for its natural diversity and is home to features ranging from arid deserts with sand dunes to thriving pine forests in mountain valleys. Utah is one of the Four Corners states, and is bordered by Idaho in the north, Wyoming in the north and east; by Colorado in the east; at a single point by New Mexico to the southeast (at the Four Corners Monument); by Arizona in the south; and by Nevada in the west. It covers an area of 84,899 sq mi (219,890 km2). The state is one of only three U.S. states (with Colorado and Wyoming) that have only lines of latitude and longitude for boundaries.
One of Utah's defining characteristics is the variety of its terrain. Running down the northern center of the state is the Wasatch Range, which rises to heights of about 12,000 ft (3,700 m) above sea level. Portions of these mountains receive more than 500 in (13,000 mm) of snow each year and are home to world-renowned ski resorts, made popular by the light, fluffy snow, which is considered good for skiing. In the northeastern section of the state, running east to west, are the Uinta Mountains, which rise to heights of 13,000 feet (3,950 m) or more. The highest point in the state, Kings Peak, at 13,528 feet (4,123 m), lies within the Uinta Mountains. At the western base of the Wasatch Range is the Wasatch Front, a series of valleys and basins that are home to the most populous parts of the state. The major cities of Ogden, Salt Lake City, Layton, West Valley City, Sandy, West Jordan, Orem, and Provo are located within this region, which stretches approximately from Brigham City at the north end to Nephi at the south end. Approximately 75 percent of the population of the state lies in this corridor, and urban sprawl continues to expand along the edges of these valleys.
Western Utah is mostly arid desert with a basin and range topography. Small mountain ranges and rugged terrain punctuate the landscape. The Bonneville Salt Flats are an exception, being comparatively flat as a result of once forming the bed of ancient Lake Bonneville. Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake, Sevier Lake, Rush Lake and Utah Lake are all remnants of this ancient freshwater lake, which once covered most of the eastern Great Basin. West of the Great Salt Lake, stretching to the Nevada border, lies the arid Great Salt Lake Desert. One exception to this aridity is Snake Valley, which is (relatively) lush due to large springs and wetlands fed from groundwater derived from snow melt in the Snake Range, Deep Creek Range, and other tall mountains to the west of Snake Valley. Great Basin National Park is just over the Nevada state line in the southern Snake Range. One of western Utah's most famous attractions is Notch Peak, the tallest limestone cliff in North America, located west of Delta.
Much of the scenic southern and south eastern landscape (specifically the Colorado Plateau region) is sandstone, specifically Kayenta sandstone and Navajo sandstone. The Colorado River and its tributaries wind their way through the sandstone, creating some of the world's most striking and wild terrain (the area around the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers was the last to be mapped in the lower 48 United States). Wind and rain have also sculpted the soft sandstone over millions of years. Canyons, gullies, arches, pinnacles, buttes, bluffs, and mesas are the common sight throughout south-central and southeast Utah. This terrain is the central feature of protected state and federal parks such as Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks, Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hovenweep, and Natural Bridges national monuments, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (site of the popular tourist destination, Lake Powell), Dead Horse Point and Goblin Valley state parks, and Monument Valley (a popular photographic and filming site). The Navajo Nation also extends into southeastern Utah.
Southwestern Utah is the lowest and hottest spot in Utah. It is known as Utah's Dixie because early settlers were able to grow limited amounts of cotton there. Beaverdam Wash in far southwestern Utah is the lowest point in the state, at 2,000 feet (610 m). The northernmost portion of the Mojave Desert is also located in this area. Dixie is quickly becoming a popular recreational and retirement destination, and the population is growing rapidly. Just north of Dixie is the state's highest ski resort, Brian Head.
Eastern (northern quarter) Utah is a high-elevation area covered mostly by plateaus and basins. Economies are dominated by mining, oil shale, oil, and natural gas-drilling, ranching, and recreation. Much of eastern Utah is part of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. The most popular destination within northeastern Utah is Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal.
Like most of the Western and Southwestern states, the federal government owns much of the land in Utah. Over 70 percent of the land is either BLM land, Utah State Trustland, or U.S. National Forest, U.S. National Park, U.S. National Monument, National Recreation Area or U.S. Wilderness Area.
Utah features a dry, semi-arid to arid climate, although its many mountains feature a large variety of climates, with the highest points in the Uinta Mountains being above the timberline. The dry weather is a result of the state's location in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada in California. The eastern half of the state lies in the rain shadow of the Wasatch Mountains. The primary source of precipitation for the state is the Pacific Ocean, with the state usually lying in the path of large Pacific storms from mid-October through April, although northern Utah often sees these large storms earlier and later. In summer, the state, especially southern and eastern Utah, lies in the path of monsoon moisture from the Gulf of California. Most of the lowland areas receive less than 12 inches (300 mm) of precipitation annually, although the I-15 corridor, including the densely-populated Wasatch Front, receive approximately 15 inches (380 mm). The Great Salt Lake Desert is the driest area of the state, with less than 5 inches (125 mm). Snowfall is common in all but the far southern valleys. Although St. George only receives about 3 inches (7.5 cm) per year, Salt Lake City sees about 60 inches (150 cm), enhanced by the lake-effect snow from the Great Salt Lake, which increases snowfall totals to the south, southeast, and east of the lake. Some areas of the Wasatch Range in the path of the lake-effect receive up to 700 inches (1,770 cm) per year. The consistently dry, fluffy, snow led Utah's ski industry to adopt the slogan "the Greatest Snow on Earth" in the 1980s. In the winter, temperature inversions are a phenomenon across Utah's low basins and valleys, leading to thick haze and fog that can sometimes last for weeks at a time, especially in the Uintah Basin.
Utah's temperatures are extreme, with cold temperatures in winter due to its elevation, and very hot summers statewide (with the exception of mountain areas and high mountain valleys). Utah is usually protected from major blasts of cold air by mountains lying north and east of the state, although major Arctic blasts can occasionally reach the state. Average January high temperatures range from around 30 °F (-1 °C) in some northern valleys to almost 55 °F (13 °C) in St. George. Temperatures dropping below 0 °F (-18 °C) should be expected on occasion in most areas of the state most years, although some areas see it often (for example, the town of Randolph averages about 50 days per year with temperatures dropping that low). In July, average highs range from about 85 °F (29 °C) to 100 °F (38 °C). However, the low humidity and high elevation typically leads to large temperature variations, leading to cool nights most summer days. The record high temperature in Utah was 118 °F (47 °C), recorded south of St. George on July 4, 2007, and the record low was -69 °F (-56 °C), recorded at Peter's Sink in the Bear River Mountains of northern Utah on February 1, 1985.
Utah, like most of the western United States, has few days of thunderstorms. On average there are fewer than 40 days of thunderstorm activity during the year, although these storms can be briefly intense when they do occur. They are most likely to occur during monsoon season from about mid-July through mid-September, especially in southern and eastern Utah. Dry lightning strikes and the general dry summer weather often spark wildfires in summer, while intense thunderstorms can lead to flash flooding, especially in the rugged terrain of southern Utah. Tornadoes are uncommon in Utah, with an average of two striking the state yearly, rarely higher than F1 intensity. One exception of note, however, was the strong F2 Salt Lake City Tornado that sliced across the downtown metro area of Salt Lake City on August 11, 1999, striking large buildings and causing approximately $170 million in damage, and one fatality.
The center of population of Utah is located in Utah County in the city of Lehi. As of July 1, 2008 the Census Bureau estimated Utah had a population of 2,736,424. In 2008, the US Census Bureau determined Utah to be the fastest growing state in the country in terms of population growth.
Much of the population lives in cities and towns along the Wasatch Front, a metropolitan region that runs north-south with the Wasatch Mountains rising on the eastern side. Growth outside the Wasatch Front is also increasing. The St. George metropolitan area is currently the second-fastest growing in the country after the Las Vegas metropolitan area, while the Heber micropolitan area is also the second-fastest growing in the country (behind Palm Coast, Florida).
Utah contains 5 metropolitan areas (Logan, Ogden-Clearfield, Salt Lake City, Provo-Orem, and St. George), and 5 micropolitan areas (Brigham City, Heber, Vernal, Price, and Cedar City).
The largest ancestry groups in the state are:
Most Utahns are of Northern European descent.
A majority of the state's residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the Mormons or the LDS Church. As of 2007, the percentage of Utahns that are counted as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was 60.7 percent of the state's population and only 41.6 percent of them are active members. Mormons now make up about 34%-41% of Salt Lake City, while rural areas tend to be overwhelmingly Mormon. Though the LDS Church officially maintains a policy of neutrality in regards to political parties, the church's doctrine has a strong regional influence on politics. Another doctrine effect can be seen in Utah's high birth rate (25 percent higher than the national average; the highest for a state in the U.S.). The Mormons in Utah tend to have conservative views when it comes to most political issues and the majority of voter-age Utahns are unaffiliated voters (60%) who vote overwhelmingly Republican. John McCain polled 62.5% in the 2008 Presidential Election while 70.9% of Utahns opted for George W. Bush in 2004.
According to a report produced by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life the self-identified religious affiliations of Utahns over the age of 18 as of 2008 are:
Margin of error +/- 6%
Utah has a high total birth rate, and the youngest population of any U.S. state. It is also one of the few non-Southern states that has more males than females.
In 2000, the gender makeup of Utah was:
According to the University of Utah the gross state product of Utah in 2005 was $92 billion, or 0.74% of the total United States GDP of $12.4 trillion for the same year. The per capita personal income was $24,977 in 2005. Major industries of Utah include: mining, cattle ranching, salt production, and government services.
According to the 2007 State New Economy Index, Utah is ranked the top state in the nation for Economic Dynamism, determined by
"The degree to which state economies are knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, information technology-driven and innovation-based."
As of January 2010[update], the state's unemployment rate is 6.8%.
In eastern Utah petroleum production is a major industry. Near Salt Lake City, petroleum refining is done by a number of oil companies. In central Utah, coal production accounts for much of the mining activity.
Utah collects personal income tax within 6 income brackets. The state sales tax has a base rate of 6.45 percent, with cities and counties levying additional local sales taxes that vary among the municipalities. Property taxes are assessed and collected locally. Utah does not charge intangible property taxes and does not impose an inheritance tax.
Tourism is a major industry in Utah and is well known for its year-round outdoor and recreational activities among other attractions. With five national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion), Utah has the third most national parks of any state after Alaska and California. In addition, Utah features seven national monuments, two national recreation areas, six national forests, and numerous state parks and monuments.
The Moab area, in the southeastern part of the state, is known for its challenging mountain biking trails, including Slickrock. Moab also hosts the famous Moab Jeep Safari semiannually.
Utah is well known for its winter activities and has seen an increase in tourism since the 2002 Winter Olympics. Park City is home to the United States Ski Team. Utah's ski resorts are primarily located in northern Utah near Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, and Provo. In 2009, for a third year in a row, Deer Valley, in Park City, has been ranked the top ski resort in North America by more than 20,000 subscribers of Ski Magazine. In addition to having prime snow conditions and world-class amenities, Northern Utah's ski resorts are well liked among tourists for their convenience and proximity to a large city and International Airport, as well as the close proximity to other ski resorts, allowing skiers the ability to ski at multiple locations in one day. This is in contrast to most other states with large ski industries, where resorts are more often located in remote locations, away from large cities, and more spread apart. The 2009 Ski Magazine reader survey concluded that six out of the top ten resorts deemed most "accessible" and six out of the top ten with the best snow conditions were located in Utah . In Southern Utah, Brian Head Ski Resort is located in the mountains near Cedar City. Former Olympic venues including Utah Olympic Park and Utah Olympic Oval are still in operation for training and competition and allows the public to participate in numerous activities including ski jumping, bobsleigh, and speed skating.
Utah features many cultural attractions such as Temple Square, the Sundance Film Festival, the Red Rock Film Festival, the DOCUTAH Film Festival, and the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Temple Square is ranked as the 16th most visited tourist attraction in the United States by Forbes Magazine, with over five million annual visitors.
Other attractions include Monument Valley, the Great Salt Lake, the Bonneville Salt Flats, and Lake Powell.
Beginning in the late 19th century with the state's mining boom (including the Bingham Canyon Mine, among the world's largest open pit mines), companies attracted large numbers of immigrants with job opportunities. Since the days of the Utah Territory mining has played a major role in Utah's economy. Historical mining towns include Mercur in Tooele County, Silver Reef in Washington County, Eureka in Juab County, Park City in Summit County and numerous coal mining camps throughout Carbon County such as Castle Gate, Spring Canyon, and Hiawatha. These settlements were characteristic of the boom and bust cycle that dominated mining towns of the American West. During the early part of the Cold War era, uranium was mined in eastern Utah. Today mining activity still plays a major role in the state's economy. Minerals mined in Utah include copper, gold, silver, molybdenum, zinc, lead, and beryllium. Fossil fuels including coal, petroleum, and natural gas continue to play a major role in Utah's economy, especially in the eastern part of the state in counties such as Carbon, Emery, Grand, and Uintah.
I-15 and I-80 are the main interstate highways in the state, where they intersect and briefly merge near downtown Salt Lake City. I-15 traverses the entire state north-to-south, entering from Arizona near St. George, traversing the entire Wasatch Front, and exiting into Idaho near Portage. I-80 spans northern Utah east-to-west, entering from Nevada at Wendover, crossing the Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake City, and entering Wyoming near Evanston. I-84 West enters from Idaho near Snowville (from Boise) and merges with I-15 from Tremonton to Ogden, then heads southeast through the Wasatch Mountains before terminating at I-80 near Echo Junction.
I-70 splits from I-15 at Cove Fort in central Utah and heads east through mountains and rugged desert terrain, providing quick access to the many national parks and national monuments of southern Utah, and has been noted for its beauty. The 103 mile (163 km) stretch from Salina to Green River is the longest stretch of interstate in the country without services, and, when completed in 1970, was also the longest stretch of entirely new highway constructed in the U.S. since the Alaska Highway was completed in 1943.
A light rail system in the Salt Lake Valley, known as TRAX, consists of two lines, both ending in Downtown Salt Lake City, with one heading to the suburb of Sandy and the other to the University of Utah. The system is currently undergoing an expansion that will see the completion of four additional lines by 2014. The Utah Transit Authority (UTA), which operates TRAX, also operates a bus system that stretches across the Wasatch Front and west into Tooele, and also provides winter service to the ski resorts east of Salt Lake City. Several bus companies provide access to the ski resorts in winter, and local bus companies also serve Logan, St. George and Cedar City. A commuter rail line known as FrontRunner currently operates between Salt Lake City and Pleasant View, and is also currently undergoing an expansion south to Provo. Amtrak's California Zephyr, with one train in each direction daily, runs east-west through Utah with stops in Green River, Helper, Provo, and Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City International Airport is the only international airport in the state and serves as a hub of Delta Air Lines. The airport has consistently ranked first in on-time departures and had the fewest cancellations among U.S. airports. The airport currently has non-stop service to over 100 destinations throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as to Paris and Tokyo. Canyonlands Field (near Moab), Cedar City Regional Airport, St. George Municipal Airport, and Vernal-Uintah County Airport all provide limited commercial air service. Ground has recently been broken on creating a new, larger regional airport in St. George, due to the rapidly-growing population and the lack of room for expansion for the current airport. Completion is expected in 2011. SkyWest Airlines is also headquartered in St. George and maintains a hub at Salt Lake City.
Utah government, like most U.S. states, is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The current governor of Utah is Gary Herbert, who was sworn in on August 11, 2009. The governor is elected for a four year term. The Utah State Legislature consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. State senators serve four year terms and representatives two year terms. The Utah Legislature meets each year in January for an annual forty-five day session. The Utah Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Utah. It consists of five justices, who are appointed by the governor, and then subject to retention election. The Utah Court of Appeals handles cases from the trial courts. Trial level courts are the district courts and justice courts. All justices and judges, like those on the Utah Supreme Court, are subject to retention election after appointment.
Utah is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties. As of 1918 there were 29 counties in the state, ranging from 611 to 7933 square miles.
Utah granted full voting rights to women in 1870, 26 years before becoming a state. Among all U.S. states, only Wyoming granted suffrage to women earlier. However, in 1872 the initial Edmunds-Tucker Act was passed by Congress in an effort to curtail excessive Mormon influence in the territorial government. One of the provisions of the Act was the repeal of women's suffrage; full suffrage was not returned until Utah was admitted to the Union in 1896. (See Women's suffrage in Utah.)
Utah is one of the 15 states that has not ratified the U.S. Equal Rights Amendment.
The constitution of Utah was enacted in 1895. Notably, the constitution outlawed polygamy, as requested by Congress when Utah had applied for statehood, and reestablished the territorial practice of women's suffrage. Utah's Constitution has been amended many times since its inception.
Utah is also one of only 2 states in the United States to outlaw all forms of gambling; the other is Hawaii. Utah is an alcoholic beverage control state. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulates the sale of alcohol; wine and spirituous liquors may only be purchased at state liquor stores, and local laws may prohibit the sale of beer and other alcoholic beverages on Sundays. The state bans the sale of fruity alcoholic drinks at grocery stores and convenience stores. The law states that such drinks must now have new state-approved labels on the front of the products that contain capitalized letters in bold type telling consumers the drinks contain alcohol and at what percentage.
Historically, politics in Utah have been controversial, such as the Federal government versus the LDS Church on the issue of polygamy. The LDS Church discontinued plural marriage in 1890, and in 1896 Utah gained admission to the Union. Many new people settled the area soon after the Mormon pioneers. Relations have often been strained between the LDS population and the non-LDS population. These tensions played a large part in Utah's history, such as (Liberal Party vs. People's Party).
Both of Utah's U.S. Senators, Orrin Hatch and Robert Foster Bennett, are Republican. Two more Republicans, Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, as well as one member of the Democratic Party, Jim Matheson, represent Utah in the United States House of Representatives. After Jon Huntsman, Jr., resigned to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Herbert was sworn in as governor on August 11, 2009.
While the LDS Church maintains an official policy of neutrality in regards to political parties and candidates, Utah votes predominately Republican. Self-identified Latter-day Saints are more likely to vote for the Republican ticket than non-Mormons, and Utah is one of the most Republican states in the nation. The connection between the LDS Church and the Republican Party of Utah is controversial.[expand]
In the 1970s, then-Apostle Ezra Taft Benson was quoted by the Associated Press that it would be difficult for a faithful Latter-day Saint to be a liberal Democrat. Although the LDS Church has officially repudiated such statements on many occasions, Democratic candidates—including LDS Democrats—believe that Republicans capitalize on the perception that the Republican Party is doctrinally superior. Political scientist and pollster Dan Jones explains this disparity by noting that the national Democratic Party is associated with liberal positions on gay rights and abortion, both of which the LDS Church is against. The Republican Party in heavily Mormon Utah County presents itself as the superior choice for Latter-day Saints. Even though Utahn Democratic candidates are predominantly LDS, socially conservative, and pro-life, no Democrat has won in Utah County since 1994. David Magleby, dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Brigham Young University, a lifelong Democrat and a political analyst, asserts that the Republican Party actually has more conservative positions than the LDS Church. Magleby argues that the locally conservative Democrats are in better accord with LDS doctrine. For example, the Republican Party of Utah opposes almost all abortions while Utah Democrats take a more liberal approach, although more conservative than their national counterparts. On Second Amendment issues, the state GOP has been at odds with the LDS Church position opposing concealed firearms in places of worship.
In 1998 the Church expressed concern that Utahns perceived the Republican Party as an LDS institution and authorized lifelong Democrat and Seventy Marlin Jensen to promote LDS bipartisanship.
Utah is much more conservative than the United States as a whole, particularly on social issues. Compared to other Republican-dominated states in the Mountain West such as Wyoming, Utah politics have a more moralistic and less libertarian character according to David Magleby.
About 80% of Utah's Legislature are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while they account for 61 percent of the population. Since becoming a state in 1896, Utah has had only two non-Mormon governors.
In 2006, the legislature passed legislation aimed at banning joint-custody for a non-biological parent of a child. The custody measure passed the legislature and was vetoed by the governor, a reciprocal benefits supporter.
Carbon County's Democrats are generally made up of members of the large Greek, Italian, and Southeastern European communities, whose ancestors migrated in the early 1900s to work in the extensive mining industry. The views common amongst this group are heavily influenced by labor politics, particularly of the New Deal Era.
The Democrats of Summit County are the by-product of the migration of wealthy families from California in the 1990s to the ski resort town of Park City; their views are generally supportive of the economic policies favored by unions and the social policies favored by the liberals.
The state's most Republican areas tend to be Utah County, which is the home to Brigham Young University in the city of Provo, and nearly all the rural counties. These areas generally hold socially conservative views in line with that of the national Religious Right.
The state has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964. Historically, Republican presidential nominees score one of their best margins of victory here. Utah was the Republicans' best state in the 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1996, 2000, and 2004 elections. In 1992, Utah was the only state in the nation where Democratic candidate Bill Clinton finished behind both Republican candidate George H. W. Bush and Independent candidate Ross Perot. In 2004, Republican George W. Bush won every county in the state and Utah gave him his largest margin of victory of any state. He won the state's five electoral votes by a margin of 46 percentage points with 71.5% of the vote. In the 1996 Presidential elections the Republican candidate received a smaller 54% of the vote while the Democrat earned 34%.
Utah's population is concentrated in two areas, the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, with a population of over 2 million; and southwestern Utah, locally known as "Dixie", with nearly 150,000 residents.
According the 2000 Census, Utah was the fourth fastest growing state (at 29.6 percent) in the United States between 1990 and 2000. St. George, in the southwest, is the second-fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States, trailing Greeley, Colorado.
The state's two fastest growing counties are: Summit (at 91.6 percent; ranking it 8th in the country) and Washington (at 86.1 percent; ranking it 12th). The cities (defined as having at least 9,000 residents in 2000) that saw the greatest increases between 1990 and 2000 were: Draper (248 percent), South Jordan (141 percent), Lehi (125 percent), Riverton (122 percent), and Syracuse (102 percent). Between 1990 and 2000 the five fastest-growing cities of any size were Cedar Hills (302 percent), Draper (248 percent), Woodland Hills (213 percent), Ivins (173 percent), and South Jordan (141 percent). According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the five fastest-growing cities of any size between 2000 and 2008 were Saratoga Springs (1,501%), Herriman (1,061%), Eagle Mountain (934%), Cedar Hills (209%), and Lehi (146%).
The Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association play at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. Utah is the least populous U.S. state to have a major professional sports league franchise. The team moved to the city from New Orleans in 1979 and has been one of the most consistently successful teams in the league (although they have yet to win a championship). Since 2007, Orem has been host to the Utah Flash of the NBA Development League as well. Salt Lake City was previously host to the Utah Stars, who competed in the ABA from 1970-1976 and won 1 championship. Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer was founded in 2005 and plays at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy (they won a championship in 2009), and the Utah Blaze, who began play in the original AFL in 2006 that folded before the 2009 season, then returned to play when the league was re-founded in 2010. They compete at the E Center in West Valley City.
Utah also has several minor league baseball teams, the most prominent of which are the Salt Lake Bees, who play at Spring Mobile Ballpark in Salt Lake City and are part of the Pacific Coast League, which competes at the AAA level, meaning they are one notch below Major League Baseball. The Ogden Raptors (who play at Lindquist Field) and the Orem Owlz (who play at Brent Brown Ballpark) compete in the Pioneer League, which is a rookie league (the 4th and lowest level of official minor league competition). The St. George RoadRunners play in the independent Golden Baseball League. Utah also has one minor league hockey team, the Utah Grizzlies, who play at the E Center and compete in the ECHL (which is generally considered the third tier of U.S. hockey).
Utah has five universities that compete in Division I of the NCAA - Utah and BYU (Mountain West Conference), Utah State (Western Athletic Conference), Weber State (Big Sky Conference), and Utah Valley (Great West Conference).
The state of Utah relies heavily on income from tourists and travelers taking advantage of the state's ski resorts and natural beauty, and thus the need to "brand" Utah and create an impression of the state throughout the world has led to several state slogans, the most famous of which being "The Greatest Snow on Earth", which has been in use in Utah officially since 1975 (although the slogan was in unofficial use as early as 1962) and now adorns nearly 50 percent of the state's license plates. In 2001, Utah Governor Mike Leavitt approved a new state slogan, "Utah! Where Ideas Connect", which lasted until March 10, 2006, when the Utah Travel Council and the office of Governor Jon Huntsman announced that "Life Elevated" would be the new state slogan.
Utah is the setting of or the filming location for many books, films, television series, music videos, and video games. A selective list of each appears below.
See Category:Films shot in Utah