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News

AM News Brief: Fringe Gambling, Education Funding & Regional Housing Shortage

Multi-story, tan brick school building with large windows.
Courtesy Logan City School District
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Thursday morning, March 12, 2020

State

Education Funding Changes Passes Legislature

The Utah legislature has passed a package of legislation that changes how public education is funded in the state. It would create a constitutional amendment to allow money earmarked for education to be spent to support children and people with disabilities. In exchange for giving up some money, $75 million for public education will be put into a new reserve fund, and there will be an increase in per pupil spending. The constitutional amendment still needs to be signed by the governor and approved by voters in the fall. — Sonja Hutson

Continued Tweeks To Inland Port Amendments

A bill making its way through the legislature would urge Inland Port to pursue projects that avoid or minimize negative environmental impacts. The bill originally passed the Senate 25-2. Then, they recalled it to make some technical changes. Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, said there’s no legislation right now to prevent the port’s construction, but that this bill does create some environment protections. But critics of the bill say it doesn’t go far enough to require eco-friendly projects. The bill is still pending approval in the Senate. — Jessica Lowell

Cracking Down On “Fringe Gambling”

Utah lawmakers are trying to crack down on “fringe gambling” in the state. It’s illegal and Wednesday the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that bans machines that give users tokens or credits in return for the possibility of earning money. Supporters of the bill say these machines are unregulated, target low income Utahns and become the site of other crimes. The Senate has already passed the bill, but needs to vote on it again after the House made an amendment. — Sonja Hutson

Voter Information Access For Political Candidates

Utah House lawmakers have passed legislation giving political candidates greater access to voter registration information. The bill was revised to strip out a section that would have given heightened privacy protections to legislators. The measure as it stands would protect voter information from the general public, but candidates would have access to names, addresses, birth years, party affiliations and past election participation. That's a change from existing law that allows Utah voters to shield their information entirely. Certain voters such as domestic or dating violence victims, law enforcement officers and members of the military will still be able to secure their information. — Associated Press

The Jazz, The NBA And COVID-19

A cascade of events Wednesday night brought down the NBA season. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 moments before tipoff in Oklahoma City. The Jazz reported Thursday morning that a second player has also tested positive. ESPN has identified him as guard Donovan Mitchell. The NBA quickly shut down the season, the Jazz and Thunder were quarantined until all players were tested. — Diane Maggipinto Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Southern Utah

Event Ban Fails In Moab

The Grand County Council met in Moab Wednesday to consider banning large public gatherings because of coronavirus. But the measure failed after local business owners and managers testified against it. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger

Charge Dismissed In 2017 Brian Head Fire Case

No jury trial for the man accused of starting one of the largest wildfires in Utah history. The state dismissed a misdemeanor charge of burning during a closed fire season against 63-year-old Robert Ray Lyman. A misdemeanor reckless burn charge was previously dismissed with prejudice. Lyman pleaded not guilty to both charges related to the fire that burned 112 square miles in Iron and Garfield counties. The blaze destroyed 13 homes and caused more than $40 million in damage. Authorities say the Taylorsville resident was burning weeds near his cabin when the wildfire began. — Associated Press

Region

Report Shows Regional Impact Of Affordable Housing Shortage

A new report from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition shows it’s really hard to find affordable housing in our region, if you’re very poor. The shortage of rental units for low income people is particularly dire in Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Rapid growth across the Mountain West is one of the reasons cited for the affordable housing shortage. — Amanda Peacher, Mountain West News Bureau

Flash Drought

Researchers in our region are arguing for new models to better plan for a recent climate phenomenon: flash droughts. These are short-term climate events where an area will experience a sudden and rapid escalation of drought conditions. The scientist says climate change is a likely contributor to this issue and more study needs to be done. — Noah Glick, Mountain West News Bureau

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