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PM Brief: Mobile Wave lottery, limiting Capitol press access & banning ‘indecent’ material

The Wave
Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management
The daily lottery to hike the Wave in southern Utah is now a mobile-based geofence system. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

State

Senate approves bill lengthening involuntary commitment stays 

People who are involuntarily placed in a mental health facility because of an emergency could be held there for up to three days under a bill moving through the Utah Legislature. Right now, it’s capped at 24 hours. HB 363, which passed a Senate committee Tuesday, also expands when someone could be involuntarily committed. Right now, they have to be a danger to themselves or others. Under this legislation, someone whose mental health is preventing them from taking care of themselves could be involuntarily committed. Bill sponsor Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said it would help severely mentally ill people get stabilized, especially those who do not believe they're ill. But Nate Crippes with the Disability Law Center said it would allow “almost anyone with serious mental illness” to be committed, even if they aren’t a danger. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson 

Community members call for more funding for affordable housing 

Community advocates called on Utah lawmakers Tuesday to put more money toward addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis. Gov. Spencer Cox requested $228 million to help build affordable housing and units to support people experiencing homelessness. But the Legislature’s budget committee only recommended $55 million. Rev. Steve Klemz, a retired Salt Lake City pastor, said choosing not to fully fund the request is immoral. The Legislature has prioritized a nearly $200 million income tax cut this session. But Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, defended the decision, saying it’s hard to please everyone. Adams said this year, he believes the Legislature has funded what’s needed in regards to affordable housing. — Emily Means

House passes bill to ban pornographic materials from classrooms

A bill banning “pornographic or indecent” materials from classrooms passed the Utah House mostly along party lines. HB 374 also requires the State Board of Education and the Utah Attorney General’s office to give schools guidance and training on how to identify “sensitive materials.” Bill sponsor Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan said, "This bill is absolutely necessary to provide that standard that allows for school districts to review and to remove materials that shock the conscience." But Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, said she’s worried that some books addressing important issues like sexual assault would be swept up in this. The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson 

Northern Utah

Press access limited in both chambers at state capitol 

The Utah House voted Tuesday to restrict press access to certain areas of the Capitol. Previously, journalists with press credentials could enter certain non-public areas like the House chamber and hallways. But under this resolution, they would have to get permission from someone the House Speaker designates in order to do that. The Utah Senate passed a similar resolution earlier this year. — Sonja Hutson

Southern Utah

Wave permit system goes mobile

The daily lottery to hike the Wave in southern Utah is now a mobile-based geofence system. It used to be an in-person only event held every morning in Kanab. Bureau of Land Management officials called the new lottery process safe and more convenient. The hike through delicate sandstone on the Utah-Arizona border requires a permit. Most are given out months in advance. To access the new daily system, people have to be within certain geographic boundaries from Page, Arizona through Kanab and north to East Zion. People have to enter the lottery between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. two days before they hope to hike the Wave. — Lexi Peery, St. George

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