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Election news from across Utah's statewide and national races in 2020.

AM News Brief: Mormon Crickets, Airport Wait Times & Restaurant Award Nominees

Close up photo of a mormon cricket.
wikimedia commons/blm.gov courtesy of Joel Herzberg
Mormon crickets (which are actually shield-backed katydids) are hatching early this year.

Monday morning, Mar 2, 2020

STATE

Potential Impact Of Proposed Abortion Ban

Friday afternoon, the Senate voted on a bill to ban elective abortions in Utah — if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The only exceptions would be in cases of rape, incest, if the mother’s life is at risk or if the fetus has a lethal defect or severe brain abnormality. But in the case of rape, a patient would be required to show documentation like a crime report from law enforcement to receive an abortion. Critics say forcing a victim to report a crime takes away what control they feel they still have. Bill sponsor Dan McCay, R-Riverton, says current law requires a crime report, but that he is working with the Utah Medical association to improve that language. — Grace Osusky

NORTHERN UTAH

Last Round of Democratic Presidential Candidates In Utah

Two Democratic presidential candidates are swinging through Salt Lake City Monday — the day before Utahns head to the polls for the democratic primary. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the front runner in the state and the nation, is holding a rally at the Utah State Fairpark, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is hosting a rally downtown. Residents can also vote in the Republican presidential primary tomorrow. President Donald Trump is expected to win that by a landslide. — Sonja Hutson

Coronavirus Patient Returns To Utah

A St. George man who was infected in a coronavirus outbreak on a cruise ship in Japan has been transferred from California. He is now in a high-level isolation unit at an Intermountain Healthcare hospital in Salt Lake City after he requested to be closer to home. IHC officials say they're treating Mark Jorgenson after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked for the hospital’s assistance. Joregenson, 55, and his wife were passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that quarantined hundreds of people earlier this month. Dr. Tood Vento, an Intermountain infectious disease physician, said Friday Jorgenson was showing no symptoms of the virus. He had tested negative twice before testing positive while in quarantine at Travis Air Force Base, where he was airlifted off the cruise ship. — Associated Press

Utah Airport Wait Times & TSA Hiring Freeze

The Salt Lake City airport is seeing record numbers of airline passengers with this winter’s abundance of snow. Airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said more than 30,000 travelers have passed through the airport the last few weekends and that many are here for skiing. This comes as the Transportation Security Administration recently called for a nationwide freeze on hiring and overtime for its security screeners to bridge a funding gap. Volmer says airport officials are watching staffing levels as they look to the new airport opening in September. The airport has seen 5% growth year over year with more than 26 million passengers in 2019. Read the full story. — Andrew Becker

Salt Lake Restaurants Earn Prestigious Nomination

Salt Lake City restaurants Table X, Kyoto and Laziz Kitchen all received nominations for James Beard Foundation Awards last week. They're among a number of mountain west chefs and restaurants to receive the honor, and it's a big deal since the awards are known as the Oscars of the food world. This year, the foundation remapped the categories, making most of our region a standalone rather than part of the Southwest. This means we won’t be competing against Texas — a heavy-hitter in the culinary world. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Mormon Crickets Hatch Early

Mormon crickets, the grasshopper-like insects that pose threats to crops and motorists, are hatching early this year in northern Nevada. The Nevada Department of Agriculture has confirmed some of the earliest hatchings in years, noting the first occurred Feb. 22 in Winnemucca. Mormon crickets, which are actually shield-backed katydids and not crickets at all, pose a safety threat to drivers because they get squished and make roads slick. And outbreak levels of Mormon crickets can devastate farmers' crops. — Associated Press

STATE

Navajo Uranium

Navajo Nation officials and the federal government are taking a closer look at more than a dozen former uranium mines on the reservation. The tribe and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement years ago to assess so-called orphan mines. Those are mines for which no responsible party has been identified for cleanup. The EPA has set aside millions of dollars for the evaluations and a study to determine whether the mines affected water sources. — Associated Press

NATION

Congress & Drug Prices

State lawmakers are working to reduce prescription drug costs this session, but many say the real fix has to come from the federal government. And while there have been a few federal bills introduced over the last year targeting prescription drug pricing, none seem to be gaining much traction. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said combining aspects of two separate bills from House Democrats and Republicans is the most likely path forward. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

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