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PM News Brief: Political Chess, Utahraptor State Park & Jordan River Rises

Photo of the Jordan River.
Brian Albers
Utah's Jordan River will gradually rise two feet over the next 24 hours, after the Salt Lake County Flood Control and Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities released water Friday from Utah Lake into the river and Surplus Canal.

Friday evening, Feb. 14, 2020


Lawmakers Call For Apology As Activist Equates Polygamy To Slavery

Utah Democratic lawmakers are condemning behavior during its Thursday caucus meeting, when a presenter gave the state’s lone African American lawmaker a name tag that said “slave” on it, while comparing polygamy to slavery. Angela Kelly, director of the anti-polygamy group Sound Choices Coalition, was speaking to Democratic lawmakers in the Caucus meeting about why she opposes a bill to make polygamy between consenting adults an infraction rather than a felony. Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, said she was shocked and felt "belittled" by the incident. Kelly wouldn’t comment on the “slave” name tag, calling the uproar over it “high school drama.” She did, however, defend her comparison of polygamy to slavery. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Legislative Backlog

The attorneys who write bills that become Utah laws are always swamped during the legislative session. They work long hours and weekends, and often through the January and February holidays. But just before the start of the session this year, three key drafters left. And with 1,322 bills filed this session — a near record — that’s made the already daunting workload even more challenging. It’s also left some lawmakers worried their bills won’t get considered. Read the full story.Jon Reed


Are Monuments A Pawn In Political Chess?

As debate over public lands management intensifies under the Trump administration, there’s at least one Utah official who’s saying that the state’s national monuments have a deep, structural flaw. Val Hale is executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. He argues that Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante should be legislated by congress, and not designated by a president. He says that “until that’s the case, Bears Ears will tend to be a political pawn” expanded or retracted depending on the administration in power. Hale’s comments come in the wake of new monument management plans released by the Bureau of Land Management last week. — David Fuchs

Proposal For New State Dinosaur Park

After millions of years in the making, Utah may be getting a new state park. State Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, introduced a bill Friday to create Utahraptor State Park near Moab. It’s in an area known as Dalton Wells which is part of a world class dinosaur quarry. Jim Kirkland, Utah’s state paleontologist, said 30 dinosaur species in Grand County can’t be found anywhere else in the world. The park would cover roughly 7,000 acres and be Utah’s 45th state Park. — Grace Osusky


Salt Lake City Shooting

The man killed Thursday night in an officer-involved shooting in Salt Lake City has been identified as Brian Francis Filion. A K9 police companion was also killed in the incident. Filion was a parole fugitive and a suspect in a homicide earlier this month in Ogden. The North Ogden Police Department requested help from the U.S. Marshall Service in finding him. A release says Filion fled on foot from officers and pulled a firearm on K9 Hondo, who worked with the Herriman police department. An investigation is ongoing. — Caroline Ballard

Possible Hate Crime Attack On Payson Missionary

Utah authorities are investigating an attack on a black missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a possible hate crime. Two men were arrested Thursday on suspicion of assault, and charging documents show hate crime is under consideration. The documents show the victim and his missionary companion were preparing to go to a house of people they were going to teach Jan. 28 in the central Utah city of Payson when they encountered six people wearing dark hoodies. The victim told police they shouted at him and called him a racial slur before punching and kicking him. — Associated Press

Jordan River Rises This Weekend

Over the next 24 hours, the Jordan River will gradually rise two feet. The Salt Lake County Flood Control and Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities released water Friday from Utah Lake into the Jordan River and Surplus Canal. They’re regulating water flow in the river because of an above average snowpack and higher than average reservoir levels. Officials are advising against recreational activities — like camping — near the river south of 2100 South. — Grace Osusky


Fight Over Congressional Subpoena Power

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is calling it a “witch hunt” after House Democrats voted this week to give one of their own the power to subpoena the Trump administration. U.S. House Natural Resources Committee chair Raul Grijalva now has broad authority to subpoena documents and witness testimonies from both Interior and Department of Agriculture. Grijalva says he needs that power because the Trump administration isn’t complying with their requests for information … but Republicans say it’s a political move. Read the full story.Nate Hegyi

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