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AM News Brief: Navajo Coal Dollars, Helping Inmates Transition & Rural Light Pollution

Photo of night sky.
iStock.com/m-gucci
A new kind of light pollution map shows light pollution is not just an urban issue. The map broke down light pollution per capita using 2015 data. That method highlighted bright spots over oil and gas operations, suburbs and even greenhouses.

Thursday morning, Feb. 13, 2020

STATE

Cannabis Law Clean-Up

A bill introduced in the state Senate Wednesday is looking to clear criminal records for those who’ve been convicted of offenses related to marijuana possession. S.B.121 would expunge the records of those who’ve used marijuana medicinally before Proposition 2 passed in 2018, though it would not apply to anyone caught selling it or those with felony charges. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Helping Inmates Transition Through Health Care

A bill that would offer inmates health care treatment to bridge their transition out of jail passed during a Senate Business and Labor Committee meeting Wednesday. It would provide Medicaid coverage to certain inmates for up to 30 days before their release and would create a digital pilot substance use and mental health program in county jails. It also includes a refundable tax credit as an incentive for practitioners to work in jails. It now heads to the Senate Floor. — Jessica Lowell

Honoring Utah’s Suffragists

Wednesday, state lawmakers recognized the 150th anniversary of Utah granting women the right to vote. Seraph Young was the first American woman to vote under equal suffrage laws after Utah’s measure was passed in 1870. Utah lawmakers approved a resolution honoring the women who contributed to women's suffrage. — Diane Maggipinto

SOUTHERN UTAH

Project Looks To Electrify Rural Utah Community

The small community of Westwater sits on land owned by the Navajo Nation just outside of Blanding. The area is home to around 20 families and doesn’t have running water or electricity. But now, the Gov. Gary Herbert’s office is leading an effort to fund a $2 million utility project there. The Governor’s office is seeking funding from the state Legislature, the Utah Navajo Trust Fund and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Blanding

NORTHERN UTAH

Utah State Sexual Harassment Settlement With DOJ

The Department of Justice and Utah State University have agreed to a set of guidelines following a three-year investigation into the school's alleged mishandling of sexual assault cases on campus. The agreement notes that the federal review of USU will be completed when the school fulfills its side of the deal. Utah State must now comply with a list of requirements, including providing better training for students and employees on policies and federal laws involving sexual harassment. — Associated Press

REGION

Rural Light Pollution

Light pollution is usually associated with big towns and cities. But a new kind of light pollution map shows it’s also a problem in rural areas, including our region. The map broke down light pollution per capita using 2015 data. That method highlighted bright spots over oil and gas operations, suburbs, and even greenhouses. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Loss Of Navajo Coal Dollars

The Navajo Nation has filed to intervene in a rate case for one of Arizona's largest utility companies. The tribe is seeking ways to make up for the loss of coal revenue as power plants and mines shut down in the region and to develop renewable energy projects. Tribal President Jonathan Nez has said that coal-dependent communities should be provided resources for their historic contributions and to help transition to other sources of energy. Arizona utility regulators have told Arizona Public Service Co. that it should be prepared to propose a transition fund for affected communities. — Diane Maggipinto

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