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Govt-and-politics
featured
Five percent beer to hit shelves in Utah

Beer sold in Utah’s grocery and convenience stores will have a higher alcohol content as of Friday as a new state law goes into effect.

SB 132, which passed through the state Legislature on the last day of the general session, allows bars, breweries, restaurants and convenience stores to sell alcoholic beverages containing 5% alcohol by volume, an increase from the 4% ABV that has been the legal limit up to this point.

Retailers in Utah County experienced beer shortages as they prepared for the new law to take effect. Rajeev Kumar, who works at the 7-Eleven in Provo at 222 W. 300 South, said his store had been out of beer for two weeks.

There is a cooler fully stocked with the higher-point beer, Kumar said, but it has been locked in anticipation for Friday.

“Everything was sold out,” Kumar said, adding that the beer shortage resulted in a “big-time loss” for sales.

Kumar said the changing law has brought mixed reactions from customers. Some have been excited that they will be getting more buzz for their buck, but others have been irritated by the shortage.

The legal change was lobbied for by the Utah Responsible Beer Choice Coalition. The group argued that increases in alcohol percentage caps in neighboring states, including Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas, would reduce the demand for low-point beer and negatively impact business in the state.

“That reduction may lead to consumers making purchases outside of … grocery and convenience store(s) and making purchases in higher alcohol environment places such as the state liquor store,” a statement on the group’s website reads.

Gov. Gary Herbert, who signed SB 132 into law, said at a press conference earlier this year that the state must “reflect the market” when it comes to alcohol limits.

“If action hadn’t been taken by the lawmakers, we were going to see a drastic reduction in the variety of beers available in Utah,” said Andy Zweber, president of General Distributing, the state’s largest beer distributor.

The change will allow Utah to receive national versions of some of the most popular beer brands, Zweber said, including Budweiser and Bud Light. Additionally, it will give local brewers “more freedom to be creative” and to brew beers “in their more traditional strengths.”

Julia Schuler, a brewer at Strap Tank Brewery, supports the change for this exact reason, and said it will allow her to provide customers with beer that is more true to style.

Schuler said she expects more out-of-state visitors to stop by breweries like Strap Tank now that the alcohol percentage has increased.

Local grocery stores will benefit from being able to stock a wider variety of brands and styles, she added.

There has been some confusion caused by the way Utah measures alcohol content. While most states measure by volume, Utah measures alcohol by weight (the limit was 3.2% ABW under the old law). When measuring by weight, the new law will allow stores to carry beer up to 4.0%.

“The percentage of alcohol change is not that much,” said Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control information officer Terry Wood. “It’s a slight percentage.”

And even with this increase, Zweber pointed out, the cap on the alcohol content of beer in Utah is lower than that of other states. The cap in Minnesota is 4% ABV, but the majority of beer sales take place in liquor stores.

“We are still the most restrictive state in the country in terms of the beer laws,” he said.

Under the new law, the state will charge an excise tax of $13.10 per 31-gallon barrel of beer imported or manufactured, an increase from the previous amount of $12.80.


Isaac Hale, Daily Herald 

David Martin, 15, of Provo and dressed as Duke Caboom from “Toy Story 4," rides a miniature motorcycle during trick-or-treat held Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, in downtown Provo. “The best part of my costume is that I don’t have to walk,” Martin said. Temperatures ranging from a high of 42 degrees and a low of 21 degrees, according to The Weather Channel, didn’t discourage community members from trick-or-treating in downtown Provo, Provo Towne Centre and other locations in the city and throughout Utah County. In downtown Provo, some businesses opened their doors to hand out candy as well as other treats and gifts, and a Halloween carnival stationed outside of the Utah County Convention Center entertained trick-or-treaters with games, face-painting and free pumpkins. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald


Provo
breaking featured
20,000 Utah Valley Eye Center patients may have had information hacked after HIPAA breach

Demographic information for more than 20,000 patients could have been accessed after Utah Valley Eye Center was hacked last year, according to the center.

The Provo business’s portal was hacked on June 18, 2018, and an email was sent to 5,764 patients disguised as a notification from PayPal telling the patients they had received a payment, according to a press release.

The eye center immediately sent an email to patients who had received the PayPal email after learning its system had been hacked, according to the release. The center believes only emails were accessed, but that patient names, addresses, birth dates and phone numbers could have been seen.

“However, there is absolutely no evidence that any personal health or financial information was taken or accessed,” the press release, signed by Michael Clayton, the center’s administrator, reads.

The center has taken additional steps to secure the systems, which is mainly used for scheduling reminders. Those include updating internal policies and procedures and reporting the incident to the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Department of Human Services.

The Utah Valley Eye Center also suggests placing a fraud alert on patients’ credit files to protect themselves from identity theft as a precaution.

“At Utah Valley Eye Center, we are committed to providing you with top-notch healthcare services, including the protection of your health information,” Clayton wrote in the release.


MARK JOHNSTON/Daily Herald 

Led 4A in scoring by more than six points per game and also topped the classification in rebounds and assists. In the two tournament games at WSU, averaged 28.5 points, 13 boards, 4.5 assists, three steals and 2.5 blocks.


State-and-regional
AP featured
Sharply divided House approves Democrats' impeachment rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats swept a rules package for their impeachment probe of President Donald Trump through a divided House, as the chamber's first vote on the investigation highlighted the partisan breach the issue has only deepened.

By 232-196, lawmakers on Thursday approved the procedures they'll follow as weeks of closed-door interviews with witnesses evolve into public committee hearings and — almost certainly — votes on whether the House should recommend Trump's removal.

All voting Republicans opposed the package. Every voting Democrat but two supported it.

Underscoring the pressure Trump has heaped on his party's lawmakers, he tweeted, "Now is the time for Republicans to stand together and defend the leader of their party against these smears."

Yet the roll call also accentuated how Democrats have rallied behind the impeachment inquiry after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spent months urging caution until evidence and public support had grown.

She and other Democratic leaders had feared a premature vote would wound the reelection prospects of dozens of their members, including freshmen and lawmakers from Trump-won districts or seats held previously by Republicans. But recent polls have shown voters' growing receptivity to the investigation and, to a lesser degree, ousting Trump.

That and evidence that House investigators have amassed have helped unify Democrats, including those from GOP areas. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, said she was supporting a pathway to giving "the American people the facts they deserve," while Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., said voters warrant "the uninhibited truth."

Yet Republicans were also buoyed by polling, which has shown that GOP voters stand unflinchingly behind Trump.

"The impeachment-obsessed Democrats just flushed their majority down the toilet," said Michael McAdams, a spokesman for House Republicans' campaign arm.

Elsewhere at the Capitol on Thursday, three House panels led by the Intelligence Committee questioned their latest witness into the allegations that led to the impeachment inquiry: that Trump pressured Ukraine to produce dirt on his Democratic political rivals by withholding military aid and an Oval Office meeting craved by the country's new president.

Tim Morrison, who stepped down from the National Security Council the day before his appearance, testified — still behind closed doors — that he saw nothing illegal in Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president that is at the center of the Democrat-led investigation.

Yet, Morrison also largely confirmed much of what William Taylor, the highest-ranking U.S. official in Ukraine, said in earlier, highly critical testimony about the call, which Taylor said he and Morrison discussed several times.

The Democrats are still waiting to hear if Morrison's one-time boss John Bolton will testify. They have subpoenaed former national security adviser Bolton, who quit the administration after disagreements with Trump over his handling of Ukraine.

In the House inquiry vote, the only Democratic "no" votes were by Reps. Jeff Van Drew, a New Jersey freshman, and veteran Collin Peterson of Minnesota, one of the House's most conservative Democrats. Both are battling for reelection in Republican-leaning districts.

Also supporting the rules was independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who left the GOP this year after announcing he was open to considering Trump's impeachment.

Thursday's House debate was laced with high-minded appeals to defend the Constitution and Congress' independence, as well as partisan taunts.

"What are we fighting for? Defending our democracy," Pelosi said.

She addressed lawmakers with a poster of the American flag beside her and opened her comments by reading from the preamble to the Constitution. She also said the rules would let lawmakers decide whether to impeach Trump "based on the truth."

"I don't know why the Republicans are afraid of the truth," she said.

But her counterpart, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, cast the process as a skewed attempt to railroad a president whom Democrats have detested since before he took office.

"Democrats are trying to impeach the president because they are scared they cannot defeat him at the ballot box," he said.

No. 2 House GOP leader Steve Scalise, R-La., accused Democrats of imposing "Soviet-style rules." His backdrop was a bright red poster depicting the Soviet hammer and sickle emblem and the famous St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square.

The House is at least weeks away from deciding whether to vote on actually impeaching Trump. If it does, the Senate would hold a trial on whether to remove him from office. That GOP-run chamber seems highly likely to keep him in the White House.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., likened Democrats to a "cult," accusing them of bouncing from "one outlandish conspiracy theory to another." Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., pointedly said she looked forward to Republicans "prioritizing country over party, just as we took an oath to do."

Democrats said the procedures are similar to rules used during the impeachment proceedings of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Pelosi decided to have the vote following a GOP drumbeat that the inquiry was tainted because lawmakers hadn't voted to formally commence the work. The rules direct House committees "to continue their ongoing investigations" of Trump.

Democrats hope Thursday's vote will undercut GOP assertions that the process has been invalid. They've noted that there is no constitutional provision or House rule requiring such a vote.

The rules require the House Intelligence Committee — now leading the investigation — to issue a report and release transcripts of its closed-door interviews, which members of both parties have attended.

The Judiciary Committee would then decide whether to recommend that the House impeach Trump.

Republicans could only issue subpoenas for witnesses to appear if the committees holding the hearings approve them — in effect giving Democrats veto power.

Attorneys for Trump could participate in the Judiciary Committee proceedings. Democrats would retain leverage by empowering panel Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to deny requests by Trump representatives to call witnesses if the White House continues to "unlawfully refuse" to provide testimony or documents Congress demands.

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Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to say the poster showed St. Basil's, not the Kremlin, and to show Scalise is the No. 2 House GOP leader, not No. 3.