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PM News Brief: Spencer Cox Endorsement, Gas Prices Rise & Inland Port Business Plan

A photo of gas pumps at a gas station
File: imgbuddy
Gas prices in Utah have started to climb, with the average price of a gallon of fuel in the state sitting around $2.14.

Thursday evening, May 21, 2020

STATE

Gov. Gary Herbert Endorses Spencer Cox

Gov. Gary Herbert endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox Thursday. Utah’s next governor will be tasked with helping the state recover from the COVID-19 economic crisis and Herbert thinks Cox is the best candidate for the job. Herbert said in a statement “Spencer helped me lead our economy into the most prosperous period in state history. I trust him to do it again.” Herbert opted not to endorse his former boss Jon Huntsman. He served as lieutenant governor during Huntsman’s administration. According to a recent poll by UtahPolicy.com and KUTV, Cox is the favorite among likely republican primary voters and leads Huntsman by seven points. — Sonja Hutson

New Unemployment Claims And COVID Cases

More than 6,500 Utahns ended their unemployment claims last week. That’s according to new numbers released Thursday by the Department of Workforce Services. Still, more than 6,200 people applied for traditional unemployment. And about 2,600 gig workers and self employed people filed for benefits as well. Utah health officials also announced Thursday the state has now had nearly 7,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19. And two more people have died, bringing the state’s total to 92. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Romney And Lee Call For Planned Parenthood Investigation

Utah’s Republican U.S. senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney are asking the Department of Justice to investigate Planned Parenthood affiliates who received loans from the federal CARES Act, an economic stimulus package. The two senators said the non-profit organization employs too many people to be eligible and the CARES Act was “not designed to give government funds to politicized, partisan abortion providers.” Planned Parenthood said in a statement that some independent affiliates applied and met the criteria for the loans. The organization said the call for an investigation is a “clear political attack.” — Sonja Hutson

Gas Prices Rise In Time For Memorial Day

Heading into Memorial Day weekend, gas prices in Utah have started to climb, with the average price of a gallon of fuel in the state sitting around $2.14. That’s according to data from AAA. Just a week ago, gas would cost you about $1.99. Despite the recent increase in costs, it’s still more than a dollar cheaper than it was a year ago. Garfield County, in Southern Utah, has the highest average with gas costing about $2.28. Sevier County, north of Garfield, has the state’s lowest price at $2.02 a gallon. — Ross Terrell

NORTHERN UTAH

Utah Business Revival Moves Concert From Kaysville

Utah Business Revival is a group of small business owners pushing the state to reopen. They planned to hold an in-person concert in Kaysville on May 30. The city’s mayor supported it, but the city council pushed back on the idea. The group announced Thursday that the concert will now happen in Grantsville in Tooele County. Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne said he was surprised to hear that. Even though the event is planned to happen on private property, Milne said the organizers will still have to get permits. — Jessica Lowell

Inland Port Authority Releases Business Plan

The Utah Inland Port Authority released its business plan Thursday for the distribution hub planned for Salt Lake County’s northwest corner. It includes incentivizing electric vehicle use and encouraging the building of satellite ports throughout the state. The authority’s executive director said they will collaborate with businesses and the public to reach their goals. But the port’s critics want more specifics. In a press release, a coalition opposing the development said the plan lacks details about environmental impacts. The Port Authority Board will meet next week to discuss the plan, and the public comment period is open. — Emily Means

Burgess Owens Leading In District Four Race

The Republican primary race for Utah’s 4th Congressional District is shaping up to be a tight one with former NFL player Burgess Owens in the lead. That’s according to a new poll released Thursday by UtahPolicy.com and KUTV. Owens leads the pack with support from 38% of likely GOP primary voters. Former KSL radio talk show host Jay Mcfarland comes in second with 28%. And 23% of voters say they favor state Rep. Kim Coleman. But the survey’s margin of error is 8%. The district is one of the most Republican districts in the nation to be represented by a Democrat, Congressman Ben McAdams. It’s a high priority for national Republicans to flip. — Sonja Hutson

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