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AM Brief: Shifting influence on inland port, puppy mill protest & unclear prices at Utah hospitals

Photo of Intermountain Healthcare Hospital
Brian Albers
Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, UT.

Thursday, Mar. 3, 2022

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City closer to losing influence on inland port

Voting power on the Inland Port Authority could soon change after a bill, HB 443, passed the Utah Senate. The bill would strip voting power from Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, Magna and West Valley City. And it would shrink the board from 11 members to five, filling all of those seats with business people. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Sen. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, compromised on the bill in February. A majority of senators backed the bill, arguing it would take away Salt Lake City’s excessive power and give rural counties more influence on what they call a statewide issue. Sen. David Buxton, R-Davis, also said it will streamline the process by reducing it to a board that “knows how to take care of business and move forward, not be hung up in the mud with politics.” But Sen. Derek Kitchen, R-Salt Lake, said he’s concerned it takes voting power away from the people most affected. The bill passed 28-1 and now heads to the House for further consideration. — Leah Treidler

Bridal Veil Falls one step away from becoming a state monument

A resolution to make Bridal Veil Falls a state monument, HCR 13, passed both the Utah House and Senate earlier this week and now heads to Gov. Spencer Cox for final approval. Utah County Commissioners passed a similar resolution in February to protect the falls after developers proposed a rehab lodge at the top of the falls in 2020. Bill Sponsor Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Utah, said the bill is meant to preserve the falls for future generations. — Leah Treidler


Funding slashed for all-day kindergarten proposal

Making all-day kindergarten available to every kid in Utah was a top priority for education leaders this year, but last-minute changes brought significant cuts to the funding that many thought lawmakers would approve — reducing it from about $48 million to just $12 million. Only about 30% of families have access to an all-day option, compared to about 80% nationally. Nan Ault, superintendent of the North Sanpete School District, said the cuts will severely limit her ability to offer a full-day option to her students. “If I have the funding, I can staff, I can arrange for bussing if I have to,” she said. “I can't do this on short notice.” She and other education leaders are frustrated but she said they will be back next year to continue asking for more support. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Utah will scrap body measurements from transgender sports bill

The sponsor of a Utah proposal to create a commission to make eligibility decisions about transgender kids in youth sports is removing controversial provisions that list body measurements as criteria to be considered. Republican Rep. Kera Birkeland said Wednesday that she planned to remove the list of physical attributes from her bill. She now plans to allow the panel to independently decide what criteria to consider. The list initially proposed included measurements such as bone density and hip-to-knee ratio. It prompted outcry from LGBTQ advocates. They worried transgender kids would be subject to body-checking. The revision comes as legislatures nationwide debate banning transgender kids from youth sports. — Associated Press

Protest against puppy mills in Utah

The Humane Society of Utah will hold a rally to protest puppy mills in Utah at the state Capitol at noon Thursday to show opposition to HB 476. The bill would stop local governments from regulating any animal businesses or ones dealing with related products. The society said that includes puppy mills and pet stores that profit from what it deems inhumane practices. They also take issue with the speed at which the bill's being pushed through the legislature and allege almost all stakeholders have been excluded from its drafting. That includes the exclusion of animal control officers who enforce laws against cruelty. — Pamela McCall

Most U.S. hospitals aren’t transparent about prices

A new report from watchdog group stated the vast majority of U.S. hospitals, including 10 in Utah, are not fully transparent about how much their services cost. A 2021 law requires hospitals to provide clear information about the price of services, but Intermountain Medical Center in Murray and University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City are among those not adhering to it — and they’re not alone. The watchdog group says about 86% of U.S. hospitals are still not offering the required information. — Caroline Ballard

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