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PM News Brief: Women’s Suffrage, University Fees & Utah Federal Spending

Photo of a sign that says "The University of Utah, Founded February 28, 1850."
Brian Albers/KUER
At least two Utah universities are reducing their student fees for the 2020 fall semester. That story and more in this evening’s news brief.";

Tuesday evening, August 18, 2020

STATE

Oil and Gas Regulations Could Be Pushed Back A Year

The state agency that oversees the oil and gas industry in Utah could put a one year pause on new regulations in counties with less than 125,000 residents under a bill being considered this week by the state Legislature. The idea is to alleviate the burden of new regulations on an industry that has dealt with uncertainty throughout the coronavirus pandemic. But environmentalists say the move could hurt air quality, which is especially concerning during a pandemic brought on by a respiratory illness. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

State Legislature Gears Up For Federal Spending Vote

The Utah state Legislature is expected to vote on a series of bills Thursday that will appropriate almost $126 million of federal money. That includes $15 million towards classroom supplies for public schools, including personal protective equipment. Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Salt Lake City, tried unsuccessfully to increase that to $20 million. Moss said schools have needs outside of PPE, like internet access. But lawmakers voted down that suggestion, arguing they’d like to wait to appropriate that money to give themselves more flexibility down the line. — Sonja Hutson

Utah COVID Update

Utah health officials reported another 263 cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. And for the first time since late-April, Utah County had more new daily cases than any other jurisdiction, including Salt Lake County. Health officials also reported five more people have died due to Covid — two of them were under the age of 64. So far, nearly 82% of Utah’s cases are considered recovered. — Ross Terrell

22,000 Households Apply For Pandemic EBT

According to the non-profit Utahns Against Hunger, more than 22,000 Utah households have applied for additional pandemic food assistance. Pandemic EBT is for families who had children receiving free or reduced lunches when schools shut down in March. The program provides a one-time payment of $308 per child. The non-profit said about 77,000 households in the state are eligible for the assistance and that more work needs to be done to reach families who could use the funds. — Caroline Ballard

Utah Universities Reducing Student Fees

At least two Utah universities are reducing their student fees for the 2020 fall semester. The University of Utah and Utah State University will both take $150 off what students would normally owe. At the U, an average, full-time student pays around $624 a semester in fees which go to things like the campus recreation, health services and maintenance. School leaders say the change comes because many students are facing financial difficulties amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent state audit found that fees at both the U and Utah State have been rising over the past decade, and some of those have been tacked on unfairly and include things that should be covered under tuition. — Caroline Ballard

SOUTHERN UTAH

Navajo Nation President Authorizes Federal Money Spending Plan

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez approved a plan Tuesday to spend nearly $477 million of federal CARES Act funding. The Nation received over $700 million in funding, but the money reached the tribe late, and disagreements within their government have held up its distribution. The expenditures approved Tuesday include over $260 million for water, power and internet projects. Small business owners, the Navajo Gaming Enterprise and the Navajo Department of Health will also receive large sums of money. Under federal law, the Tribe must return all relief money that is not spent by the end of the year. But Nez has asked for an extension of that deadline. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

REGION/NATION

19th Amendment Turns 100

Tuesday marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment — which gave women the right to vote. That amendment meant something else to folks in the West, though. White women here largely had the right to vote for decades. But according to historians, the goal was to attract more white settlers and effectively outnumber non-white residents like Native Americans. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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