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PM News Brief: Daylight Saving Bill Heads To Governor, Ogden Jail Escape & Bail Reform

Photo of a bail bonds storefront
Whittney Evans
/
KUER
Aiming to reduce Utah's reliance on cash bail, state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require judges to release certain defendants from jail while their charges are pending.

Wednesday evening, Feb. 26, 2020

STATE

Gerrymandering Compromise

Utah lawmakers have come to an agreement with the group behind a new anti-gerrymandering law over potential revisions. Proposition 4, which was narrowly approved by voters in 2018, creates an independent redistricting commission, which recommends congressional and legislative district maps to the Legislature. Negotiations between legislative leadership and Better Boundaries stalled last week over whether or not the commission should be banned from taking partisanship into account when considering districts. Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said under the compromise, the commission would make its own rules about things like partisan gerrymandering. The Better Boundaries executive director declined to comment until the bill revising Proposition 4 is released. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Enough Money For Affordable Housing Bill?

A $35 million housing bill passed the Utah Senate 16-11 Wednesday, although its sponsor does not think it will be fully funded. It includes $15 million toward rental assistance, $5 million toward the preservation of affordable housing and $15 million that private builders can leverage to fund affordable housing construction. Legislative leaders have said the general fund budget is tight this year, and the bill's sponsor said its funding will likely be reduced as a result. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Bail Reform Bill Passes House Committee

A bill that would move Utah away from its cash bail system passed a state House committee Wednesday. Sponsored by prosecutor and Rep. Stephanie Pitcher, D-Salt Lake City, it requires judges to release people accused of low-level crimes using the least restrictive conditions, like weekly check-ins, drug tests and ankle monitors. Judges could still assign cash bail. Pitcher says the cash bail system is inequitable, but the Utah Bail Bond Association says the bill infringes on the constitutional right to bail. — Sonja Hutson

Headed To The Governor: Daylight Saving

A bill to keep Utah on Daylight Saving Time year-round has passed both the House and the Senate. It would only take effect if four other western states adopt similar bills and if the federal government signs on. The Daylight Saving bill now heads to Gov. Gary Herbert for final approval. — Jessica Lowell

NORTHERN UTAH

Road Home Names New Director

The Road Home has appointed Michelle Flynn as its new executive director. The Salt Lake-based non-profit helps low-income and homeless individuals develop plans for housing. They also provide shelter services for those in immediate need. Flynn has worked for the Road Home for 25 years. She’s served as associate executive director and as interim executive director before her position was confirmed. — Grace Osusky

Convict Escapes Ogden Jail

Authorities say a California man convicted of mail fraud escaped from a Utah jail by posing as a fellow inmate whose time had come to be released. A sheriff's department official said Wednesday that Kaleb Wiewandt was allowed to leave the jail in Ogden, Utah, because staff thought he was inmate Matthew Belnap. Authorities believe Wiewandt is still in Utah but may want to return to California. — Associated Press

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