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AM News Brief: K-9 Training, Olympic Bid & New Tribune Editor

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A photo of K-9 dogs on leashes which are held by police officers.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York
Utah lawmakers are considering more required training for police dogs and their handlers. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Wednesday morning, November 18, 2020


Little Change In Utah Legislature’s Party Make-up

The partisan makeup of the State Legislature will remain almost entirely unchanged after the results of several tight Utah House races were finalized Tuesday. Democrats picked up one seat, and Republicans picked up none. Almost all of the close races were in Salt Lake County. House Minority Leader Brian King said the parties will continue to collaborate. He said he’s disappointed that a large supermajority will persist, because “you have a greater likelihood that some of the extreme policies come to the forefront and be promoted.” Republican Rep. Jefferson Moss said the two parties work well together on most issues, and he expects that to continue. — Sonja Hutson

Utah House Dems Vote On Leadership

Utah House Democrats are reshuffling their leadership for 2021. After a vote Tuesday night, Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake, will remain the House Minority Leader. Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Taylorsville, will serve as the Minority Whip. Rep. Jen Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake City, was elected as Assistant Whip and Rep. Andrew Stoddard, D-Sandy, will serve as caucus manager. — Sonja Hutson

Lawmakers Consider More Training For K-9 Teams

Utah lawmakers are considering more required training for police dogs and their handlers. At an interim committee hearing Tuesday, legislators unanimously approved a bill that would require annual certification. The bill would also amend language so that an officer can't be held liable for a dog's actions if the animal goes against the officer's commands. Body camera footage released over the summer showed a Salt Lake City police officer directing a dog to attack a man who had his hands in the air. After an internal audit, SLCPD released body cam footage of 18 other dog bites. — Associated Press

Northern Utah

Salt Lake Tribune Names New Editor

The head of the Sacramento Bee newspaper has been tapped as the new editor at the Salt Lake Tribune. Lauren Gustus will be the third woman to serve as the paper’s executive editor in its 150-year history. She will oversee all news gathering processes and a newsroom staff of about 70 journalists starting Dec. 3. Gustus will supervise the newspaper's transition away from printing a daily edition. The paper will instead publish online and supplement that with a weekly print edition. Gustus worked at the Salt Lake Tribune as an assistant sports editor from 2004 to 2007. — Associated Press

Banished Ute Women Look To Revive Lawsuit

Four women who were banished for five years from the Ute Indian Tribe's reservation in Utah are asking for a federal appeals court to revive their lawsuit. Their lawyer told a three-judge panel Tuesday that previous court findings show that Native Americans have the right to challenge such a punishment. A lawyer for the tribe argued that federal courts haven't found that a temporary banishment meets the legal standard for them to intervene in tribal discipline under the Indian Civil Rights Act. The Tribe said the women tried to disrupt federal litigation between it and Utah to stop the reservation from being reduced in size by filing several lawsuits the tribe calls frivolous. The existing boundaries eventually were upheld. — Associated Press

Salt Lake Committee Continues Plans For Olympic Bid

Salt Lake City’s bid to host a future Winter Olympics is moving forward despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic that upended plans for the Tokyo Olympics. Salt Lake City Committee CEO Fraser Bullock said the global health crisis is a reminder of the risks that come with hosting events, but that it’s also a chance to learn lessons from how Tokyo organizers are adapting. The Japanese city was forced to postpone the 2020 Summer Games to next year. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee chose Salt Lake as the next American city to bid for a Winter Olympics but hasn't chosen yet between 2030 or 2034. — Associated Press


Moderna Vaccine Promising For Rural Communities

The pharmaceutical company Moderna announced Monday that its coronavirus vaccine can last up to 30 days in a regular freezer. The long shelf life means it will be easier to distribute it to the communities far from airports or urban centers in the Mountain West. It can also be shipped in boxes of 100, rather than 1,000 like the vaccine developed by the company Pfizer. And unlike the Pfizer vaccine, it doesn’t need a high-capacity, ultra-cold freezer to keep it shelf-stable. Public health experts said all of this makes it a better fit for small towns and rural communities which often have fewer people and less storage capacity than cities. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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