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AM Brief: Cox wants visas for Ukrainian refugees, Great Salt Lake water rights & state health care committee

great salt lake Francisco Kjolseth - The Salt Lake Tribune.jpg
Francisco Kjolseth
/
The Salt Lake Tribune
Persisting drought conditions continue to drop water levels at the Great Salt Lake exposing reeflike structures made up of calcium and magnesium carbonate deposits called bioherms that resemble coral as seen on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.

Friday, Mar. 18, 2022

State

Bill could legalize bringing water to the Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake hit record low water levels this past summer, but a bill waiting to be signed by Gov. Spencer Cox would make it possible to legally bring water to the lake. H.B. 33 would allow the Utah Division of Fire, Forestry and State Lands to buy and lease in-stream water rights on behalf of natural lands like the Lake. It would also alter the “use it or lose it” stipulation in Utah water law. Till now, farmers and other water right holders have been forced to use all the water allocated to them or risk forfeiting that water to the state. Water law experts and conservationists say the bill won’t save Great Salt Lake on its own, but it’s a pivotal step towards protecting it from evaporation. Read the full story. – Saige Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune

This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake.

Cox wants more U.S. visas for Ukrainian refugees

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said he wants to see the U.S. take in more Ukrainian refugees. The statement came in response to a question about Utah artist Galina Perova during his monthly press conference Thursday. Perova is currently in Poland to help relatives who’ve fled Ukraine get temporary U.S. visas. So far, she’s had no success. Cox said in the meantime, the state will continue to pressure the Biden administration to allow refugees to come to Utah, and he said perhaps those with American relatives can be a top priority. — Leah Treidler

Governor selects members for health care committee

Gov. Spencer Cox has assembled a committee that will outline the foundation for the One Utah Health Collaborative. The volunteers will set statewide goals to lower health care costs and improve equitable health outcomes. They plan to present those goals to the state administration by July this year. The 13 members come from a wide range of Utah organizations including the Utah Department of Health, University of Utah Health, the state administration and venture capital firm SpringTide Ventures, among others. Cox said he chose them for their personal insights and community mindset — not their professional ties. — Leah Treidler

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City seeks community input on park renovation

The former site of the Seven Peaks water park in Salt Lake City is going to be transformed into a regional park. Now, the city is asking for community input. The old water park in the Glendale neighborhood has been closed since 2018. The city has two concept plans that include features like an outdoor skating rink, a pool and a multi-use sports court. Nancy Monteith, a senior landscape architect for Salt Lake Corporation, said they have an initial budget of $3.2 million for phase one of the project. She said they have been working closely with residents to understand the needs of the community. Charles Hosea, who lives in the neighborhood, said he wants to see a pickle ball court at the new park where families can socialize and play. The survey will close on April 16. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Heber Valley economy is bouncing back in spite of a labor shortage

Despite the labor shortage, 2021 appeared to be a year of financial recovery for Heber Valley. That’s according to data from the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce. KPCW reported spending at Wasatch County restaurants surged by 33% in 2021 compared to the year before, and credit card users spent $25 million more — a 45% increase. But businesses are still struggling to find employees. The unemployment rate for the County sits at 2% — a sharp drop from 17% at the height of pandemic layoffs and business closures. — Ben Lasseter, KPCW News

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