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PM Brief: Lake Powell dropping, hateful propaganda spreads & Utah sues Biden administration

Lake Powell
Wolfgang Staudt
/
Wikimedia Commons
Lake Powell is set to drop below an important water level in the near future — nearly too low to generate hydropower. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Monday evening, Mar. 7, 2022

State

Utah education leaders react to good and bad of 2022 legislative session

Utah lawmakers ended the 2022 legislative session spending more money than they have ever before by approving a more than $25 billion budget. For Utah Education Association president Heidi Matthews, this session was the best of times and the worst of times. There were historic increases to funding as lawmakers added about $465 million to the education budget. But Matthews said they also tried to pass some bills that seemed to negatively target educators. Most of those bills failed. Still, inflation and staffing challenges will be ongoing threats. Matthews said some of the best things to happen were additional paid time for teachers and investments in early literacy. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Utah sues Biden administration over national school boards letter

Utah is one of 14 states suing the Biden administration over a letter from the National School Boards Association. The group sent the letter back in September asking the federal government to help deal with “threats of violence and acts of intimidation” against school board members. But it received criticism for comparing parents to domestic terrorists. The lawsuit alleges the school boards association sought to intimidate parents from exercising their First Amendment rights. It’s demanding the Biden administration release records of communication between the NSBA and the White House, education and justice departments. — Jon Reed

Utah sees major improvement in COVID situation

Utah’s COVID-19 situation continues to show signs of improvement. Officials announced a three-day total Monday of 543 new cases. Two months ago at the peak of the omicron surge, the state reported nearly 9,500 cases in a single day. Utah’s test positivity rate has dropped from about 17% then to 6% now. Still, nine more people have died from the virus. One person was between the ages of 18 and 24 and another was between 25 and 44. — Ross Terrell 

Southern Utah

Lake Powell set to fall to level too low to produce hydropower

Lake Powell is set to drop below an important water level in the near future — nearly too low to generate hydropower. The Bureau of Reclamation calls 3,525 feet the “target elevation.” At that level, there’s a small buffer before water dips too low to generate hydropower at the Glen Canyon dam. Water agencies will take contingency steps to make sure it doesn’t get any lower. They expect reservoir levels to get back up above target elevation around May, once mountain snow has melted. — Alex Hager, KUNC 

Region/Nation

Hateful propaganda in the country slightly down from 2020

In 2021, there were nearly 5,000 cases of hateful fliers, stickers, posters, banners and stenciled graffiti documented nationwide by the Anti-Defamation League. That marked a slight decline from 2020, the worst year on record. Ian Zeitzer, with the league’s Nevada office, said the data show a significant rise in antisemitic messaging. Zeitzer urges people who encounter white supremacist propaganda to document it and report it to the league’s website, so they can track the activity. In the Mountain West last year, Colorado had the highest number of incidents followed by Utah, Idaho and Nevada. In Utah, there were 95 incidents, which ranked 17th in the country. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

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