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AM Brief: Utah Legislature turnover, avalanche danger & possible transgender law backlash

A sign warns against avalanche danger at a Utah ski resort.
Brian Albers
A sign warns against avalanche danger at a Utah ski resort.

Monday, March 28, 2022


Possible economic backlash of transgender sports bill

Utah’s new law banning transgender girls from competing in girls school sports has led to speculation about a loss of economic opportunities — namely, the NBA All-Star Game that’s scheduled in Salt Lake City next year. In 2017, the league moved the game from North Carolina in protest of an anti-LGBTQ law. It brought the game back after the law was partially repealed. Speaking to reporters after Friday’s special session, Republican House Speaker Brad Wilson said if the NBA has concerns, state leaders are happy to discuss them. He said he hopes the NBA and other organizations understand what lawmakers intend with the law … to “protect women’s sports.” In response to the new law, the Utah Jazz issued a statement saying they “oppose discriminatory legislation.” — Emily Means

Salt Lake County growth stagnates

The latest data from the U.S. Census show several Utah counties and cities grew during the last year. At the same time in Salt Lake County — the largest county in the state — the growth rate stagnated. Emily Harris, a senior demographer with the Kem C. Gardner Institute, said she and her colleagues noticed the change during the pandemic. "We also noticed a lot of people moving around as teleworking became more of a thing," Harris said. She said it can also be due to the tight housing market. Jevon Gibb with Salt Lake County’s economic development said the changes would worry him if job numbers followed a similar trend. He said county leaders have to plan smart growth in the area. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Northern Utah

Handy loses nomination bid

When his term ends in January, Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, will no longer be in the state Legislature. That’s after Republican challenger Trevor Lee beat him during the Davis County GOP nominating convention this weekend. Lee has no Democratic challenger in the general election. Handy received just 35% of delegates’ votes — not enough to trigger a primary election. Handy has represented House District 16 in Layton for 12 years. He’s a co-chair of the Utah Legislature’s bipartisan Clean Air Caucus and has often sponsored legislation related to environmental issues. — Emily Means

Considerable avalanche danger

Spring’s warm temperatures have resulted in an increased risk of avalanches in Utah’s mountains. According to the Utah Avalanche Center, there is considerable danger at all elevations on steep backcountry slopes. Avalanche forecaster Drew Hardesty explained to KPCW in Park City that rising temperatures lead to unstable snow, which can trigger wet and loose avalanches. Experts recommend avoiding the backcountry during these types of conditions. Sean Higgins, KPCW


Lawsuit challenges Interior’s public records on oil and gas leases

Environmental groups including the Center for Biological Diversity are suing the Interior Department. They say the agency is failing to release public records related to federal oil and gas leases. The groups argue a recent Interior report on the program flies in the face of President Joe Biden’s pledge to slash greenhouse emissions, and they want more details on the plan. The complaint comes on the heels of the Interior’s announcement to resume oil and gas leasing on federal lands following a court ruling. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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