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AM News Brief: Missing And Murdered Bill, Halt To Romney Censure & Vaccine Refugees

Photo of young girl getting a shot.
iStock.com/Choreograph
At least two dozen people have relocated to Idaho to avoid tightening vaccine regulations elsewhere. Idaho, Colorado and Utah offer more categories of vaccine exemptions than most states.

Wednesday morning, Feb. 12, 2020

STATE

Utah Lawmakers Halt Romney Censure

Utah lawmakers are putting a stop to a proposal to censure Sen. Mitt Romney. Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, was pushing the reprimand after Romney voted to impeach the president. He became the first Senator in history to do so against a member of his own party. Romney's vote to convict on the abuse of power article angered many party loyalists. Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and the GOP caucus met for what Wilson called a "robust debate" on whether to further the censure idea and a proposal to outline a path to recall sitting Congress members. That, too, was nixed. Wilson told the newspaper he'll instead present some kind of official thank you to the president for work on issues “critical to Utah.” — Associated Press via The Standard Examiner

Missing And Murdered Hearing

A bill to study the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women passed out of Utah’s House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee Wednesday. State Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, is running the bill, which would create a task force comprised of law enforcement, advocates and other experts that would make recommendations to address the issue. Rep. Mark Strong, R-Bluffdale, cast the lone dissenting vote. He asked Romero to change the title of the bill to include men and boys. Right now, the bill looks at missing women, girls and LGBTQ+ people. — Kate Groetzinger, Blanding

Fetal Remains Bill Passed Senate

A law that would mandate that fetal remains be cremated or buried passed the Utah State Senate yesterday. It would apply to abortion and medical providers. Abortion-rights advocates say the legislation stigmatizes the procedure. The proposals come after the U.S. Supreme Court last year upheld a similar Indiana law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence. The requirements also apply to miscarriages at medical facilities. Supporters say they would be more dignified and create space if people need to grieve. — Associated Press

SOUTHERN UTAH

Car Of The Future

Washington County residents got a glimpse of the future on Tuesday, when state transportation officials kicked off three days of free test rides on an autonomous shuttle at the 2020 Dixie Transportation Expo. St. George is the latest stop in a year-long tour launched by the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Transit Authority. Their goal is to learn best practices and introduce the public to the idea of driverless vehicles. The shuttle will make its next appearance at the Capitol on March 3, when lawmakers can try it, too. Read the full story. — David Fuchs, St. George

NORTHERN UTAH

“Toilets Are Not Trash Cans”

The Wasatch Front Water Quality Council is requesting $150,000 from the Utah legislature for its campaign "Toilets Are Not Trash Cans." It aims at educating residents not to flush things like wet wipes, feminine products and unused pharmaceuticals ... because clogged sewer lines are a real problem. The products caused a $10,000 problem with pumps at the Central Davis Sewer District facility, according to district general manager Jill Jones. Unwanted pharmaceuticals also cause environmental problems in Utah. — Diane Maggipinto

False Arrests In Box Elder

Box Elder County will pay more than $10,000 to a pair of football players from Idaho State who were wrongly arrested for robbery. Nehemiah McFarlin and Atoatasi Fox filed a lawsuit against the county after their arrests in 2016 despite presenting alilbis. The suit said police arrested them based only on a witness statement that the robber was black and the car white. — Associated Press

REGION

Vaccine Refugees

The newspaper the Idaho Statesman found that at least two dozen people chose to relocate to that state as they fled tightening vaccine regulations. Some of the parents described themselves as “refugees” seeking “health freedom.” Idaho, Colorado and Utah offer more categories of vaccine exemptions than most states. Researchers have found that a small minority of U.S. parents — 1 to 2% of them — refuse all vaccines for their children. — Rae Ellen Bichell, Mountain West News Bureau

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