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The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

PM News Brief: Insulin Cost, Free Speech On Campus & Missionaries In Quarantine

Photo of two bottles of insulin
Wikimedia Commons
Utah lawmakers have advanced a bill that would cap co-pays for insulin, decreasing the cost of the medicine for diabetes patients and their families.

Friday evening, Feb. 21, 2020

STATE

Fight Over Gerrymandering

Voters narrowly approved Proposition 4, also known as Better Boundaries, in 2018. It would create an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative district lines, which would then have to be approved by the Legislature. But some lawmakers have said there are constitutional issues with Proposition 4 and have been in negotiations with the group backing it, Better Boundaries. Those negotiations broke down Thursday, prompting lawmakers to start work on a bill to change it. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Defining Speech & Harassment On Campuses

A Utah bill that aims to draw a line between harassment and free speech on college campuses passed 7-5 in a House Judiciary Committee meeting Friday. H.B. 132 would define harassment as speech between students that discriminates based on things like race or religion, and to be considered harassment, it would also have to be so severethat it effectively denies access to opportunities on campus. The bill now heads to the House floor. — Jessica Lowell

Capping Insulin Costs

Utah lawmakers have advanced a bill that would cap co-pays for insulin, decreasing the cost of the medicine for diabetes patients and their families. The House Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved the bill that would place a cap on the amount certain insurance plans can charge for a month's supply of insulin. The bill will next move to the full House for consideration. Utah Health Insurance Association director Kelly Atkinson says the bill would do nothing to bring the overall costs of insulin down, just curtail the cost to the public. — Associated Press

SOUTHERN UTAH

Oil & Gas Leases Pulled Near Slickrock

The Bureau of Land Management announced Friday it will not include parts of the Sand Flats Recreation Area in an oil and gas lease sale scheduled for this summer. The recreation area is home to the famous Slickrock Bike Trail and brings more than 100,000 visitors to Moab each year. The decision comes after local officials asked the BLM to remove the land inside of Sand Flats from the auction and Gov. Gary Herbert also voiced his opposition. Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus thanked Herbert after the BLM decision came out. — Kate Groetzinger, Blanding

NATION

Possible Job Cuts At U.S. Geological Survey

The Trump Administration has proposed cutting nearly 20% of jobs at the U.S. Geological Survey, the largest federal source of climate science. But the agency’s director told the Mountain West News Bureau Friday that there are no plans to cut jobs. Like most presidential budgets, this proposal is unlikely to pass as is. House Democrats have already expressed concerns, as have some Republican lawmakers. — Noah Glick, Mountain West News Bureau

WORLD

Missionaries In Quarantine

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is updating guidelines for its missionaries and members in some parts of Asia in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Missionaries in Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand were told to remain in their apartments and avoid going outside except to get supplies, exercise or to attend worship services. Those in South Korea and Mongolia will also begin to take similar precautions. Church missionaries in Hong Kong are currently completing a 14-day quarantine and will then be sent elsewhere. The Seoul and Taipei temples will be closed temporarily, and some worship services are being canceled. — Caroline Ballard

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