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AM Brief: #StandWithUkraine rally, Utah housing crisis obstacles & Hill AFB fighters to Romania

Utah State Capitol Aerial Photo, Feb 2022
Scott G Winterton
/
Deseret News, pool
The Capitol in Salt Lake City as seen from the air, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

Monday, Feb. 28, 2022

State

#StandWithUkraine rally today

Utahns will rally at the state capitol again Monday in solidarity with Ukraine alongside state officials. Both Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson will speak. Cox put out a statement over the weekend calling Russia’s attack an “egregious violation of human rights.” He said Utah will no longer support any Russian enterprises and banned Russian-produced and branded alcohol from state liquor stores. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said Sunday, that so far, the only product removed is Russian Standard Vodka and it’s working to identify other Russian products as quickly as possible. — Leah Treidler

The new state budget is here

Top Utah lawmakers have recommended a $24 billion budget, with big portions dedicated to education, water, infrastructure and affordable housing, including $40 million for Great Salt Lake preservation. Utah Lake will get $30 million. The Legislature plans on spending $250 million in one-time money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to install secondary water meters. And $55 million in ARPA funding will also go toward deeply affordable housing. Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, had asked for a little more than twice that amount. Per-pupil funding in public education is getting a 6% boost and a proposal to create optional full-day kindergarten is getting $12 million. Lawmakers are also expected to vote on a billion-dollar infrastructure proposal this week. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Utah to receive $260 million to fight opioid epidemic

Utah will receive over $260 million over the next 18 years to combat the state’s opioid epidemic after final approval of a $26 billion agreement with major pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson. The agreement comes after three years of negotiations and more than 4,000 claims contending the pharmaceutical companies' business practices helped fuel the deadly opioid crisis. Around half of Utah’s money will go to local communities to fund treatment, recovery and harm reduction. The other half will go to the state. The Utah Department of Health reports eight adults die each week from opioid overdoses. — Leah Treidler

Housing crisis solution runs into barriers

A growing chorus of experts said there’s a solution to Utah’s affordable housing crisis: “middle-housing” — multi-family homes like duplexes and townhouses. But zoning in most residential areas in the state doesn’t allow it according to a new report from the Utah Foundation. It said 88% of land in Salt Lake County is zoned single-family, but allowing more multi-family homes, like condos, could open up new opportunities for homeownership. "Middle-housing” faces other obstacles like neighborhood opposition. The top concern is adding multi-family units could lead to too much growth and create issues like traffic. — Leah Treidler

Romney says Russian president miscalculated

Sen. Mitt Romney condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend, calling him a “small, evil, feral-eyed man.” He told CNN the invasion is galvanizing people across the world, leading to hefty sanctions which will weaken Russia. “You're seeing the terrible miscalculation by Vladimir Putin, causing the kind of commitment to freedom that we'd hoped we'd see,” he said. Romney also commended Ukrainian President Zelensky for his leadership and said not to dismiss Ukrainians’ ability to defend their own country against Russia based on their courage and passion. He said the Biden administration has taken some positive steps but some missteps too, including continuing prior administrations’ policy not to send defensive weapons to Ukraine. — Leah Treidler

Utah fighter jets to aid NATO

Six Hill Air Force fighters were deployed to Eastern Europe Thursday. The 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs said F-35s and F-16s have been moved to Romania and aircraft and crews will work closely with allies in the Black Sea region. The Standard-Examiner reported the fighter jets were sent to aid NATO’s defense efforts as Russian troops advance through Ukraine and will “reinforce regional security during the current tensions caused by Russia’s continuing military build-up near Ukraine.” That’s according to a statement from the U.S. Air Force in Europe. — Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

  • 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

Call for better bus lanes in SLC

Salt Lake City has been working on remodeling one of its busiest downtown east-west corridors: 200 South. The reconstruction is set to add crosswalks and BAT lanes, which are meant to help buses and right-turning vehicles move more freely down the road. Sweet Streets, a transit friendly advocacy group, is calling the city to better prioritize public transportation in their planning design with exclusive bus lanes. Shelby Stults, with the organization, said these measures would help make public transportation easier and more effective. Jon Larsen, transportation director for Salt Lake City, said the group’s concerns have been taken into account. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

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