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AM News Brief: Period products in schools, curbing methane pollution in the West & fees for public records requests

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Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022

Northern Utah

Bill to eliminate background checks for some gun sales

Utah lawmakers want to close a loophole that allowed Salt Lake County to require background checks for all gun sales and transfers conducted at facilities owned by the county. The Senate preliminarily approved the bill, SB 115, along party lines Tuesday. The bill also allows people to sue local governments for violating it. “Our most important duty as legislators is to preserve Utah's freedoms, including the freedom to bear arms without unnecessary government interference,” said bill sponsor Sen. Chris Wilson, R-Logan. Democrats raised concerns that the proposal could prevent local governments from making other land-use decisions related to guns — and that it could lead to more gun violence. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

RNC members meet in Utah to discuss Trump’s key issues

Members of the Republican National Committee will meet in Salt Lake City starting Wednesday to discuss ways to solidify former President Donald Trump’s standing heading into the midterm elections. The committee is expected to talk about Trump’s key issues, including a resolution condemning the two Republicans on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and a proposal to force GOP candidates not to participate in debates. Salt Lake City is one of the cities under consideration to host the Republican National Convention in 2024. — Associated Press

COVID outbreak almost contained in Davis County Jail

In the last 30 days, 67 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 at Davis County Jail. According to a statement from jail officials Tuesday, only 13 cases remain active. During the outbreak, many employees had to work extra hours because of staff shortages. Nearly 500 inmates are in the jail, and roughly 40% are vaccinated. Officials say they’ll continue to take precautions, including frequently sanitizing all areas, testing all personnel weekly and daily temperature checks. — Leah Treidler

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

State

Utah House votes to add fees to public records requests

The Utah House passed a bill, HB 96, Tuesday to charge fees for repeated requests made less than 10 days apart. In the hearing, proponents said it would give government agencies more time to fulfill inquiries — instead of allowing repeat requesters to bog down the system. Lawmakers also said the legislation could be applied specifically to media organizations. Renae Cowley Laub, with the Utah Media Coalition, testified at the hearing that the legislation could create a “chilling effect” and deter people from filing requests. The bill passed 60-13 and now heads to the Senate. — Leah Treidler

House approves bill to put pads and tampons in K-12 schools

The Utah House unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would put period product dispensers in K-12 schools. Funding would originally come from the state, but once it runs out, schools would have to cover the cost. The bill sponsor said when girls don’t have access to menstrual products, it can lead to absences and potential health impacts. Several other lawmakers have co-sponsored the legislation and spoken in support of the bill. It now heads to the Senate for consideration. — Ivana Martinez

Region/Nation

New proposal to curb methane pollution in the West

The Environmental Protection Agency has a new proposal to address methane pollution from oil and gas development, but some in the Mountain West region say it’s not enough. Tribal leaders and Western officials said the EPA’s proposal is a good start, and it could curb millions of tons of oil and gas methane pollution. They also want things like regular monitoring of the many small oil and gas wells that dot the region. New Mexico State Rep. Kristina Ortez said, “We need to talk about these orphan wells, right, and how chemicals contaminate our air, our soil and even the smallest leaks hurt the local environment, and it's hurting communities of color pretty specifically.” — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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