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AM Brief: Rally for transgender youth, racial bias in housing appraisals & flags lowered for Madeleine Albright

An elderly woman in a blue suit stands at a podium.
U.S. Department of State
Gov. Spencer Cox ordered Utah state facilities to lower flags in honor of Madeleine Albright, who died Wednesday.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Northern Utah

Former residents file joint lawsuit against teen treatment center

Twenty-six former residents of Vista Treatment Center filed a lawsuit against the northern Utah teen treatment business Wednesday. Their lawsuit said Vista employees isolated, shamed and abused residents. While some teen treatment centers in Utah have faced lawsuits in recent history, none have been accused by dozens of former clients in a single legal action. Vista denied the allegations in a statement Wednesday evening, describing the case as “wholly without merit.” Read the full story. — Jessica Miller & David Fuchs

This story is part of Sent Away, an investigative podcast by KUER, The Salt Lake Tribune and APM Reports.

Rally for transgender youth

Utahns will rally on the steps of the state capitol Thursday night in support of transgender youth. The Utah Pride Center organized the rally after legislators announced they intend to override the governor’s veto of HB 11, a bill to bar transgender youth from participating in girls’ school sports. Gov. Spencer Cox vetoed it Tuesday — but Republican legislators plan to override that veto in a special session Friday. Two-thirds of lawmakers in the House and Senate must vote in favor of the bill in order to override Cox’s veto. The rally begins at 6 p.m. Thursday. — Leah Treidler

U president outlines big plans during his inauguration

University of Utah president Taylor Randall laid out big plans for the school at his inauguration ceremony Wednesday night. Randall said he wants to make the U a top 10 public university, raise $1 billion in research funding and increase the student population by around 16%. To get there, he said he will try to reimagine the student experience, giving students access to research labs and study abroad opportunities starting their freshman years. He also announced the creation of a new live-work building that will house two research centers and enough beds for 755 students. Randall has been serving in the role since August. He’s the former dean of the business school and a U alum. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

State

Federal plan to weed out racial bias in housing appraisals

Vice President Kamala Harris announced a new plan Wednesday to weed out racial bias in the assessment of a home’s value. Home valuation is meant to be a fair and objective process — but that’s not always the case. James Jackson III, founder of the Utah Black Chamber, said the industry is rife with prejudice and that creates barriers to success for people of color. A report by Freddie Mac found homes in majority Black or Latino neighborhoods are roughly twice as likely to be valued below the contract price than those in predominantly white neighborhoods. And currently, the home appraisal profession is roughly 97% white, which Jackson said increases the potential for racial bias. — Leah Treidler

Gov. Cox signs a slew of new bills

Gov. Spencer Cox signed another 84 bills Wednesday. Among them is HB 30, which allows students to wear tribal regalia during their high school graduation ceremony, and SB 116, which designates the golden eagle as the state bird of prey. Cox also signed SB 46, a bill to protect patients’ rights to hold a medical cannabis card, including public employees, and SB 127 which, in part, requires the State Board of Education to administer programs to improve early literacy among children in kindergarten through 3rd grade. — Leah Treidler

Gov. Cox lowers flags in honor of Madeleine Albright

Gov. Spencer Cox has ordered flags to be lowered on all state facilities to honor the life and legacy of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who died Wednesday at the age of 84. Cox said the flags will not return to full-staff until sunset on Sunday. He's urging private citizens and businesses to do the same with their flags. Among Albright’s many accomplishments, she was an Olympic Torch Bearer at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. — Pamela McCall

DWR recommends distributing fewer deer hunting permits

Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources is recommending giving out fewer permits for this year’s general-season deer hunt. DWR biologists said it’s part of a plan to maintain healthy populations of the animal. They want about 400,000 mule deer across the state, but, right now, there are around 306,000. Drought conditions have impacted survival rates. Other proposals include adding an antlerless deer hunt, several new antlerless elk hunts and a new doe pronghorn hunt. The department is taking public comment virtually and in person on all of those recommendations through April 28. — Caroline Ballard

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