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PM News Brief: Jazz Sale Approved, St. George Bar Permits & Fewer COVID-19 Vaccines

A photo of the entrance to Vivint SmartHome Arena.
The Utah Jazz sale has officially been approved by the NBA board of governors. Ryan Smith, founder of Utah based company Qualtrics, purchased the team for a reported $1.6 billion in October.

Friday evening, December 18, 2020


Utah Ranks In The Top 10 For Unemployment Rate

Utah had the sixth lowest unemployment rate in the country for the month of November. That’s according to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, the state’s unemployment rate in November was 4.3% up from 2.4% compared to this time last year. Utah also ranked second in the nation last month for private sector and total job growth. From October to November employment in the state grew by 14,000. — Ross Terrell

The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints Updates Handbook

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made changes to its handbook. The updated version includes a new section that warns against “prejudice.” It said it’s not consistent with the word of God, including discriminating against someone for their race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religious belief or nonbelief and sexual orientation. Recent remarks by church leaders condemned racism after this summer’s protests calling for racial justice. Another new section addresses “misinformation,” and said members should beware of conspiracy theories and only share credible sources of information. — Caroline Ballard

Utah Legislature Sets Guidelines For Next Year’s Session

During next year's legislative session, the public will be allowed in the Utah State Capitol, but they'll be required to wear masks. Committee rooms will be set up to allow for social distancing, but the public is encouraged to participate in those meetings online, said Republican House Speaker Brad Wilson. “We wanted to be sure that the public has the ability to engage and give us their feedback,” Wilson said. “One of the lessons I learned early and it's been reinforced to me over and over again as a lawmaker, is that we have much better outcomes the more input we receive.” Lawmakers will be encouraged, but not required, to wear masks in their respective chambers. They’ll also be tested twice a week if they want to be allowed in. The general session starts Jan. 19. — Sonja Hutson

Fewer COVID-19 Vaccines Headed To Utah

In a tweet Friday, the Utah Department of Health said it will receive about 7,000 fewer doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week than it originally planned for. It was supposed to receive more than 23,000 doses, but will instead get around 16,600. Officials said they are looking into what went wrong. The department reported 2,644 new COVID-19 cases in the state Friday and 14 more people have died of the disease. The Davis County Sheriff’s Office also reported Friday its first confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the county’s correctional facility. Eighteen inmates there have tested positive for the virus. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Utah Jazz Sale Approved By NBA

The Utah Jazz sale has officially been approved by the NBA board of governors. Ryan Smith, founder of Utah based company Qualtrics, purchased the team for a reported $1.6 billion in October. Smith will also gain control of Vivint Smart Home Arena, the Jazz’s developmental team and minor league baseball team the Salt Lake Bees. Before the sale, Gail Miller and her family owned the team for the past 35 years and they will retain a minority stake in the team. — Ross Terrell

Rodney Chatman Placed On Leave By University Of Utah

University of Utah Police Chief Rodney Chatman has been placed on administrative leave. He was hired in January, taking over the department as it faced criticism for its handling of the on-campus murder of student athlete Lauren McCluskey. University officials have not offered any details about the reasons behind Chatman’s leave, but a lawyer whose firm represents several University of Utah police officers said Chatman had not been properly certified as a police officer. An organizer with the student-run campus safety group UnsafeU said the university’s lack of public outreach on the issue suggests school officials aren’t taking student concerns about transparency seriously and only further hurts their trust in the police department. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Southern Utah

Books Cliff Highway Proposal Put On Ice

A controversial highway through the Book Cliffs in southeast Utah won't go forward after a vote Friday. A group of rural counties called the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition voted unanimously to suspend planning for the highway, which would connect Vernal and Moab. Originally, it was meant to move oil out of the Uinta Basin. But now supporters of the project say it’s meant to connect tourist destinations, like Dinosaur National Monument and Arches National Park. The coalition cited Grand County’s opposition as the reason it suspended the project, but issues securing right-of-way for the road may have also played into the decision. Read the full story.Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Utah Board Of Higher Education Recommends Dixie State Name Change

The Utah Board of Higher education voted Friday to recommend a name change for Dixie State University, mirroring a decision made earlier this week by the university trustees. Both boards voted unanimously to drop Dixie, citing concerns about job opportunities for graduates and recruiting new students. Lisa-Michele Church sits on the state board and is a former DSU trustee. She said it was a difficult decision for her to come to but said the school is a public university, not a heritage monument. Now it’s up to state legislators to sponsor a bill that would officially remove Dixie from the school, and a new university name would be decided on after passing the legislature. Read the full story.Lexi Peery, St. George

St. George Grants 4th And Final Bar Permit

The St. George City Council voted Thursday night to issue the final bar permit for the city’s arts district. The council decided in November to limit the number of bars in the downtown area to four. Two are already in operation and another is in the works. This latest applicant secured the final permit but will still have to apply for a state liquor license and go through other planning processes. The applicant is looking to open an “upscale lounge” in Ancestor Square and already owns a local coffee shop chain called FeelLove Coffee. — Lexi Peery, St. George

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