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AM News Brief: Vax for Jazz games rules expiring, SLC to clear homeless encampments & Alex Hall wins gold

Vivint Arena downtown SLC
Brian Albers
/
KUER
Vivint Arena, home of the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022

State

COVID vaccine requirements under attack again

A legislative committee passed two bills Tuesday night that limit COVID-19 vaccine requirements. The first, HB 60, prohibits businesses and the government from mandating proof of vaccination for service or employment. Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, sponsored the bill and said it’s intended to prevent discrimination based on a person’s private health information. The committee passed another bill, HB 63, that exempts employees from vaccines if they present a doctor’s note that states they previously had COVID. It builds on a previous law that gave employees broad exemptions to workplace vaccine requirements. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Time limit for police use of force investigations

There is currently no time limit in state law for county attorneys to complete investigations into law enforcement’s use of force, but a new bill in the Utah Legislature would create a six-month cap. It would also require disclosure of the results of the inquiry within five days of finishing it. If the results of the investigation are not posted online within six months, the county attorney would have to release an explanation for the delay. The legislation passed the House Tuesday and now heads to the Senate. — Sonja Hutson

Hundreds of Utahns gave money to the Canadian trucker protest

Over 600 Utahns donated to the trucker convoy that occupied the Canadian capital to protest COVID restrictions and the vaccine, blocking key border crossings between the U.S. and Canada. The Salt Lake Tribune reported a Christian crowdfunding site raised $8.7 million for the protest but left donors’ data unprotected on their website. The Tribune found Utahns donated a total of around $41,000. The largest donation was $2,000 from a Sandy resident. In an attached message, one Utah donor wrote to the truckers that they hope “you come to the USA and save us next!” — Bryan Schott, Salt Lake Tribune

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aims to inform readers across the state.

Northern Utah

Clearing homeless encampments along the Jordan River

According to a statement from the Salt Lake City Council, officials plan to clear away many homeless encampments along the Jordan River. The city will carry out two large abatements in the next two weeks, and shuttles will carry people from the river to shelters. Some shelters, however, are struggling with staffing and will have to close or consolidate with larger ones. The Council also said the city has opened a new shelter at the former Ramada Inn to serve up to 150 high-risk homeless individuals. — Leah Treidler

Vaccine requirement lifted for Utah Jazz games

Utah Jazz fans will no longer need proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test to see the team play at Vivint Arena. The change goes into effect on Feb. 25, the day the Jazz faces off against the Dallas Mavericks. Masks are still recommended. COVID cases, and the number of people getting tested, have continued to drop across the state. The Utah Department of Health reported over 750 new cases on Tuesday. — Leah Treidler

Salt Lake City skier takes home the gold

Salt Lake City’s Alex Hall clinched the gold in the Men’s Slopestyle Final Tuesday. The University of Utah alum was the only skier to earn over 90 points. Slopestyle skiers get three tries on the course. Hall needed only one. His teammate Nick Goepper took home silver. The new wins push Team USA into third place for total medals, trailing behind Norway and Germany. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

Western officials championing cryptocurrency

Public officials in the Mountain West are feeling the blockchain buzz. The Nevada state treasurer championed a bill last year that would have allowed government agencies to accept payments in stablecoins — a kind of online token tied to real money. That proposal failed to advance. Proposed legislation in Wyoming would allow residents to pay some taxes with cryptocurrencies, and a recent bill introduced in the Arizona state senate would reclassify Bitcoin as legal tender. But the IRS said these alternatives are not legal tender, and there could be constitutional hurdles. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

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