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PM News Brief: Utah Joins Another Lawsuit, Rally On The Rocks & 19 More COVID-19 Deaths

A decorative road sign reads “Welcome to Moab, Grand County, Utah.”
Kate Groetzinger
/
KUER
A popular off-roading event may be moving to San Juan County, after taking place in Moab for over a decade. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, December 16, 2020

State

Legislative Committee Approves “Thank You” Bonus For Teachers

Under a proposal passed by a state legislative committee Wednesday, Utah teachers and school staff would get a $1,500 stipend as a “thank you” for working during the pandemic. But it would leave out Salt Lake City teachers if the district doesn’t offer in-person learning by mid-January. The committee set aside $121 million for the one-time bonuses. But some lawmakers argued teachers and staff from Salt Lake City shouldn’t be punished for decisions made by the school board. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Utah COVID-19 Update

Utah reported 2,928 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the highest number reported in a single day since last Thursday. And 19 more people have died from the virus — 11 of them were from Salt Lake County. The state’s rolling seven day average for positive tests is 2,600 per day. There are currently 556 Utahns hospitalized due to COVID-19 and about 95% of ICU beds are filled statewide. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Utah Man Fined $1.1 Million For Illegal Hiring Practices

A Utah employer has been fined over $1.1 million for worker misclassification and illegal hiring by the state’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. Justin Peck, who received the record-breaking fine, entered a guilty plea earlier this year in relation to a federal court case. In 2017 and 2018, Peck misled licensed contractors about his company and used unlicensed people to complete projects. Federal investigators also believe his company was used to avoid paying employment taxes and raise worker’s compensation premiums. As part of the agreement with the state, Peck cannot apply for a contractor license in Utah for five years. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Utah Joining Multi State Lawsuit Against Google

Utah is joining another lawsuit, this time against Google. Republican State Attorney General Sean Reyes announced Wednesday Utah is joining 10 other states, alleging the popular search engine has violated federal and state antitrust laws. The lawsuit claims Google has engaged in deceptive practices and has monopolized online advertising. Reyes said in a statement the company has shown “naked greed and a disdain for the law in its pursuit of absolute market dominance.” — Ross Terrell

Utah Department Of Transportation Completed 135 Projects

The Utah Department of Transportation completed 135 projects this year, totaling around $1.05 billion. One of the major projects the agency completed was widening I-15 near Lehi to help alleviate rush hour traffic there. It also added passing lanes throughout the state, installed traffic signals and constructed a new wildlife undercrossing near Strawberry Reservoir in Wasatch county. Work on other major projects will continue for the next two years, like widening U.S. 89 in Davis County, extending express lanes for I-15 and widening U.S. 191 in Grand County. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Rally On The Rocks Searches For New Home

A popular off-roading event may be moving to San Juan County, after taking place in Moab for over a decade. The Grand County Commission voted Tuesday night to deny a permit for Rally on the Rocks, citing concerns about noise and frustrations with event organizers. Now, they are trying to rent space in northern San Juan County. But moving the event next door won’t solve the problem, said County Chair Mary McGann. “They’re going to stay in Grand County. They’re going to be running around Grand County,” she added. McGann said the county is asking the Bureau of Land Management to cancel the event’s trail permits. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff