News Brief: Homeless Protest, EV Fees & A Dem Aims At Governorship
Monday evening, Jan. 6, 2020
With a pledge to link arms with businesses, nonprofits and residents to tackle tough issues like affordable housing and air quality, Erin Mendenhall took the reins as Salt Lake City’s mayor. Three city council members were also sworn in Monday: incumbents Andrew Johnston and Ana Valdemoros are joined by newcomer Dan Dugan, who ousted former councilman Charlie Luke by fewer than 200 votes in November. Read the full story. — Nicole Nixon
There was a heavy police presence for the city’s inauguration ceremonies. Over the weekend police swept an encampment of activists supporting the city’s homeless and arrested 17 protestors at Washington Square — where city hall is located.
The Take Shelter Coalition is refuting the way police are characterizing the conflict. The coalition said ticketing people for camping when there are no available beds is a cruel measure. The Salt Lake City Police Department says that the shelters were not full Saturday night.
Police also said that the demonstrators refused to let medical professionals into the camp when someone there was experiencing an emergency — but protestors say that medical personnel refused to enter the park without police escorts. — Caroline Ballard
Democrat For Governor
A second Democrat has jumped into the race for governor. Nikki Pino, 31, who works at a home for troubled youth in Mapleton, says as governor he wants to put more money into education, build a subway system along the Wasatch Front and stop pharmaceutical companies from advertising opioids directly to patients. Pino filed Monday his intent to gather signatures to get on the primary ballot. Democrat Zachary Moses has declared his candidacy but has not yet filed his intent to gather signatures. — Sonja Hutson
Utah Policy Education
A poll from UtahPolicy.com and Y2 Analytics shows a majority of Utahns are against a potential change to the state constitution that would redistribute state income tax revenues. Currently, all state income taxes must be earmarked for public education spending. The proposal would open up that money for use in other state programs, as long as public education funding was in some way protected. It is part of a larger tax reform package proposed by legislators in a special session and has been widely criticized by voters. — Caroline Ballard
Electric Vehicle Fees
Utah is joining a number of states around the country in increasing its fees on drivers of electric and alternative fuel vehicles. While the state is bumping up its annual registration fees, it’s also giving drivers the option to participate in a new program that would charge them per mile. Both are designed to boost funding for roads and infrastructure projects as future revenue from the gas tax is expected to fall. — Jon Reed
Eradicating Mountain Goats
Mountain goats are found all over the region, but not all herds are native. Some of the invasive ones are causing problems, pushing some agencies to extreme measures like using aerial gunners to eradicate the non-native species. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau