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AM News Brief: Reporting Child Abuse, Budget Cuts & Call For Port Plan With Environmental 'Teeth'

Cars and semis on Utah's I-15.
Elaine Clark / KUER
Around two dozen people expressed their excitement and concerns about the Utah Inland Port Authority Board’s strategic plan Wednesday. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.";

Thursday morning, May 28, 2020


Latinx Community Accounts For 14% Of Utah’s Population, Nearly 40% Of COVID Cases

Utah’s Latinx community now accounts for more COVID-19 cases than any other ethnic group. According to the latest data from the state’s department of health, they make up about 14% of the state’s population, but nearly 40% of all cases. More than 8,700 Utahns have been diagnosed with the virus, but only about a third of those are active. Four more deaths were reported Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 105. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Reporting Child Abuse

Utah has released public service announcements and put up billboards aimed at changing the narrative around child abuse. It’s a part of the national SHINE campaign, which looks to empower survivors. Utah’s attorney general’s office and Children’s Justice Center launched the program Wednesday. Attorney General Sean Reyes said reports of child abuse have dropped by 40% since the start of the pandemic. That’s in large part because stay-at-home orders have made it harder for people like teachers and coaches to see if there is a problem. — Ross Terrell

If you know of or suspect a child abuse situation, call the state’s hotline at 1-855-323-3237.

Proposed Prison Cuts Could Mean Fewer Beds And Programs

A legislative subcommittee approved plans Wednesday to cut up to nearly $45 million in funding for Utah’s courts and Department of Corrections. Tax revenues have plummeted due to COVID-19 and state lawmakers are looking to cut up to $1.3 billion from next year’s budget to make up for it. For the Department of Corrections, those plans include getting rid of up to 241 beds across the system and reducing inmate programs. The court system is looking at keeping 50 positions unfilled throughout the next fiscal year, and furloughing staff one day each month. The Executive Appropriations Committee will decide next month which proposed cuts to accept.Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Natural Resources Cuts

Utah’s natural resources appropriations subcommittee could slice up to $8.9 million from its budget. Some of the proposals include eliminating positions or reducing the state’s Hogle Zoo funding by up to $900,000, though lawmakers voted to minimize that impact. Another proposal would have reduced a general fund subsidy for Energy Solutions, a nuclear waste processor in the state. Some legislators argued that option would essentially be a tax increase on a private business, and they voted to remove it from the list. The subcommittee’s recommendations also go to the Executive Appropriations Committee for consideration. — Emily Means

Northern Utah

Critics Want Inland Port Plan That “Actually Has Some Teeth”

Around two dozen people expressed their excitement and concerns about the Utah Inland Port Authority Board’s strategic plan Wednesday. It was the board’s first meeting since last October. Many commenters said the plan, which outlines the port’s business and sustainability goals, didn’t have enough details about how it would protect communities from environmental impacts or “teeth” to enforce rules on developers. The Inland Port Authority Board will meet next on June 22. The public comment period for the strategic plan is open until then. — Emily Means

Controversial Concert Faces Another Roadblock

The Tooele County Health Department has issued a public health order that closes The Amphitheater at Studio/Ranch. That's the venue for a concert backed by Utah Business Revival, which was forced to move the show from Kaysville after facing pushback from its city council. The Tooele County Health Department said the proposed concert falls under the definition of a “temporary mass gathering” and poses a potential health hazard during the coronavirus pandemic. Though Gov. Gary Herbert moved Tooele County into the yellow phase of the state's reopening, the rule bans mass gatherings. Officials said the goal is to continue to protect the health and well-being of the community. — Diane Maggipinto

Murder Charges Filed In Tinder Case

Prosecutors have filed murder charges against a Layton man accused of choking and stabbing a woman he met on the dating app Tinder. Authorities said Ethan Hunsaker called 911 to report the slaying early Sunday morning and told police to shoot him. Officers found 25-year-old Ashlyn Black lying on the floor with multiple stab wounds. Emergency workers tried to resuscitate her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. The two had met on Tinder the night before, had a few drinks at a bar and returned to his place where police say Hunsaker attacked Black unprovoked. — Associated Press


Navajo Nation’s Recovered COVID Cases

On the Navajo Nation, more than 1,600 people have recovered from COVID-19 according to the Navajo Department of Health and its Epidemiology Center. Officials also announced an additional 102 cases and one more death, which brings the Nation’s death total to 159 as of Wednesday. The total number of positive cases of the virus is nearing 5,000 on the reservation. Another 57 hour curfew — the Navajo Nation's eighth — will begin Friday at 8 p.m. — Diane Maggipinto

Cheyenne Frontier Days Cancelled

For the first time in 124 years, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo is cancelled. Cheyenne Frontier Days carried on through the two world wars and the Great Depression but succumbed to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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