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AM News Brief: Remembering Japanese American internment, regulating hard seltzers & Tabernacle Choir cancels (again)

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Courtesy Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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Friday, Feb. 18, 2022

State

Cutting down on turf

All new state facilities in Utah may be required to have less than 20% turf. Existing state facilities will need to cut outdoor water use by 5% next year and 25% in 2026 under HB 121. The bill has already cleared the House and a Senate committee moved it forward on Thursday. Backers say the severe drought in Utah needs to be addressed and the state needs to take the lead. The proposal would also offer rebates for homeowners to replace their grass with drought-resistant landscaping. This is one of several water bills going through the Legislature. Others address secondary metering, instream water flows and Utah Lake. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery

State remembers incarceration of Japanese Americans

For the first time, Utah will mark a day of remembrance observing the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II this Saturday, Feb. 19. Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill Thursday creating the annual day of remembrance. SB 58 was sponsored by Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay. Saturday marks 80 years since President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the incarceration of over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry. Two-thirds of them were American citizens. — Pamela McCall

Sexual minority women in Utah at economic disadvantage

New research finds lesbian, bi-, pan- and asexual women in Utah are four times less likely to graduate high school than heterosexual women. According to the study from the Utah Women and Leadership Project, those groups are also twice as likely to be in the lowest income bracket. Researchers said there is no difference in employment rates, but lesbian, bi-, pan- and asexual women are likely to be in lower-paying careers. — Ross Terrell

Utah drinkers could lose hard seltzer choices

Up to half of the 80 approved types of hard seltzers may be removed from grocery store shelves in Utah, including some made by well-known brands like Coors and Bud Light. The move is outlined in a proposal that passed out of a Senate committee Thursday. At issue are flavorings that contain trace amounts of ethyl alcohol, making them technically banned from being sold in grocery and convenience stores. SB 176 is currently being held on the Senate floor. — Associated Press

COVID cases dropping

Gov. Spencer Cox will give an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Utah Friday. He’ll join state epidemiologist Leisha Nolan and other officials as COVID numbers in the state continue to decline. There were 1,032 new cases reported Thursday — a drop from a week ago. There has also been a decrease in other metrics like covid-related hospitalizations. — Pamela McCall

Northern Utah

Cybersecurity expert takes over Weber County elections

Weber County has selected a new elections director with a background in cybersecurity. Lauren Shafer, a Utah native with a master's degree in homeland security, has been picked for the job after what the county described as an extensive countrywide search. A county news release said Shafer brings an "impressive mix of elections and cybersecurity skills" to the elections office. The county said her education fits well with the ever-increasing cyber focus of election administration. — Pamela McCall

Church choir cancels tour (again)

The Tabernacle Choir's tour of Nordic countries and the United Kingdom has been canceled again. Choir president Michael Leavitt made the announcement Thursday. The tour was also called off in 2020 and 2021. Leavitt said the omicron surge has disrupted the extensive months-long preparation needed for the choir to accomplish the tour’s diplomatic and missionary purposes. Addressing a virtual audience, Leavitt also outlined four new high-level objectives, including expanding the choir's digital audience by streaming on social media and evolving with technology. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also plans to magnify the choir's missionary role. — Pamela McCall

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