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PM News Brief: Navajo Clean Energy, Patient Released & Legislature OKs Anti-Gerrymandering Changes

Photo of the Navajo Generating Station
Wikimedia Commons
The Navajo Nation is in the final stages of a deal with Los Angeles to provide it with clean energy, replacing the Navajo Generating Station that shut down in November.

Friday evening, March 6, 2020

STATE

Utah Declares State Of Emergency

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus. Though no one has knowingly contracted the virus here yet, the governor says the main focus is preparing for its arrival. State health officials are encouraging the public to wash their hands more often and take other precautions to prevent its spread. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has said there is no need to stock up on a surplus of bottled water since public drinking water systems can protect against water-borne viral infections — including coronavirus. Read the full story. — Ross Terrell

Utah’s Coronavirus Task Force And Trump

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox has directed a state coronavirus-response team to delete a tweet calling President Donald Trump's comments about sick people going to work “misinformation.” The Republican candidate for governor tweeted late Thursday that he asked the message to be removed because it appeared political. He said the White House has been a “tremendous partner” in the response to the virus, and the issue shouldn't be politicized. The tweet from the coronavirus task force objected to an interview where Trump said most cases are mild, and many people even go to work. The tweet said people should stay home if ill and avoid spreading misinformation. — Associated Press

Conviction Integrity Units

Conviction Integrity Units have been popping up in prosecutors’ offices across the country: California, Texas and Salt Lake County to name a few. The units review convictions for new or non-disclosed evidence and can recommend that prosecutors try to vacate the conviction or modify the sentence. A bill approved by the Utah House Judiciary Committee Friday would encourage more prosecutors’ offices throughout the state to create their own Conviction Integrity Units. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Porn Warning Passes House And Senate

Pornographic materials may soon be required to have a visible warning label under a bill that passed in both Utah’s House and Senate. All digital or print pornographic materials would be required to have a label which reads “Exposing minors to obscene material may damage or negatively impact minors.” Otherwise, the distributor could be fined up to $2,500. The bill’s next stop is the governor’s desk. — Jessica Lowell

House Approves Anti-Gerrymandering Changes

A bill making changes to Utah’s new anti-gerrymandering law passed a House committee Friday. It’s the result of a compromise between lawmakers and the group behind Proposition 4, which was approved by voters in 2018. The law creates an independent redistricting commission that draws new congressional and legislative districts after each census. But those maps still have to be approved by the Legislature. The bill revising Proposition 4 keeps a ban on partisan gerrymandering intact, but requires that the commission make its own rules and define what partisan gerrymandering means. — Sonja Hutson

NORTHERN UTAH

BYU Students Protest At Church HQ

This week the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clarified that gay students on Brigham Young Unviersity campuses are not permitted to date. And in response, LGBT students and allies held a protest outside LDS Church headquarters today. Read the full story. — Lee Hale

SOUTHERN UTAH

Utah Patient Released

Utah resident Mark Jorgensen — who had tested positive for COVID-19 — returned home to St. George Friday. Jorgensen had been at Intermountain Healthcare Facility since Feb. 25. He contracted the virus outside of Utah while on vacation. The Utah Department of Health says he’s shown no symptoms and doesn’t pose a threat to the public, but is on state issued quarantine until he tests negative for the virus two times. — Grace Osusky

REGION

Navajo Nation Looks To Produce Clean Energy

The Navajo Nation is in the final stages of a deal with Los Angeles to provide it with clean energy. The Navajo Generating Station — once one of the largest coal plants in the west — shut down in November, taking nearly $30 million in yearly revenue and hundreds of jobs for tribal members with it. Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the plan is to replace the station with solar, wind and hydro-power production. Officials in Los Angeles are expected to make a final decision by the end of the month. — Jon Reed

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