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PM Brief: Consumer confidence rises, Zion prescribed burns & U professor statue

Shuttles at Zion National Park
David Fuchs
/
KUER
Zion National Park officials managed a prescribed burn in the south campground Thursday. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Thursday, Mar. 3, 2022

State

Utah Legislature passes lengthy election security bill

The Utah Legislature passed an election security bill Thursday that requires everything from video surveillance of ballot boxes to requiring voters to include a photocopy of their ID in their mail-in ballots if they didn’t provide one when registering. HB 313 also requires county clerks to develop security measures related to documenting the chain of custody of ballots. The lieutenant governor’s office would have to audit voter registration records at least once a year. Among other things, it also prohibits tabulation machines from being connected to the internet, which election officials say is already standard practice. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson 

Utah’s unemployment rate falls and consumer confidence rises 

From January 2020 to this year, Utah added 63,500 jobs according to the state’s Department of Workforce Services. Utah’s unemployment rate for the month of January was 2.2%. Nationally, the rate was 4%. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute also released its consumer index report Thursday. It found that consumer confidence rose about two points from January to February. Utah’s consumer sentiment is about 16 points higher than the national level. But the institute said the report was mostly completed before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. — Ross Terrell 

Senators approve bill to address emergency homeless shelters

A bill that addresses emergency homeless shelters has nearly crossed the finish line in the Utah Legislature. It forces city officials within Salt Lake County to come up with a plan for a winter overflow shelter by September. But Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, said Salt Lake has already taken on too much of the burden of homeless services. “My constituents are exhausted,” Escamilla said. “They've been the more compassionate group of people. Enough is enough. They want to make sure that they're spreading the wealth and spreading the problems across the state, and this bill does not do that in an equitable way.” If the state doesn’t approve the plan, current homeless resource centers could expand their capacity or the state could use one of its own facilities. — Emily Means 

Northern Utah

University of Utah professor to be celebrated with statue in Washington D.C. 

From March 5 to 27 the Smithsonian will display 120 statues in Washington D.C. recognizing women in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. They will be in the Smithsonian garden and around other museums. One of them will be University of Utah professor Janis Louie. She teaches organic, inorganic and polymer chemistry. In a statement, Louie said she hopes visitors feel “inspired, encouraged and empowered.” The statues will be life-sized and 3D printed. They are part of a celebration of Women’s History Month and the “If/Then” initiative which is a national effort meant to get more young girls into STEM careers. — Ross Terrell 

Southern Utah

Zion National Park managing prescribed burns 

Zion National Park officials managed a prescribed burn in the south campground Thursday. They’re burning around 26 acres to get rid of invasive grasses, leaves and other debris. Park officials said this will help manage vegetation and reduce future fire risk. Last year a human-caused fire was sparked near the south entrance of the park and it grew to four and a half acres. Some areas may smolder for a couple days, but park officials don’t expect there to be too much smoke after the initial burn. — Lexi Peery, St. George

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