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PM News Brief: Bears Ears Visitor Center, Halloween Party Charges & Concealed Carry Permits

Bears Ears National Monument
Don Miller/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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iStockphoto
Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding and Rep. Doug Owens, D-Millcreek, are teaming up to create a new visitor center at the Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, February 8, 2021

State

Addressing Free Speech On College Campuses

The Utah Legislature is considering a bill that would restrict what type of speech can be punished on college campuses. It addresses situations where a student feels like something another student said was harassment. If the bill passes, universities would only be able to discipline students if their speech severely undermined another student’s access to their education. The legislation passed the House Monday and is now headed over to the Senate. Similar bills have failed in the Senate the past two years. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Concealed Carry Bill Heads To Governor’s Desk

A Utah bill removing the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon is headed to the governor’s desk. Gov. Spencer Cox has signaled that he’ll sign the bill into law. The victory for gun rights advocates is a long time coming. Former Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed a similar bill in 2013. Right now, getting a permit requires taking a gun safety class and getting a background check. Critics are worried that making the permit optional will make Utah less safe but supporters of the bill say the state should trust gun owners to seek out that training on their own. — Sonja Hutson

Lowest Single Day COVID-19 Case Total Since Early September

Utah health officials announced just 514 new cases of COVID-19 Monday. It’s the state’s lowest single day total since early September. Officials also said the seven day test positivity rate is 7.3%. That’s the number of positive tests divided by the total tests given. Up to now, the positivity rate has been based on the number of people who tested positive but that method didn’t include repeat positive or negative tests. Officials said the new metric better represents the state’s increase in testing. Utah has now administered more than 417,000 doses of the COVID vaccine. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Logan Residents Holds Vigil To Support Black Lives Matter

An anti-racism vigil was held Saturday at the Cache County courthouse in Logan to support a family who said their Black Lives Matter sign was set on fire. Emilee Harmon, a student at Utah State University, said racism is very prevalent in Logan, but that the event inspired here. “It makes me want to work for a better future for black people, for black youth, for black trans people,” she said. Harmon told Utah Public Radio that Utah State can do more to support black students like her. She’d like to see more anti-racist training for staff, faculty and student leaders ad would like to have more Black people in leadership positions. — Eliza Hardy, Utah Public Radio

Utah County Attorney General Files Charges Related To Halloween Party

The Utah County Attorney’s Office filed charges Monday against organizers of a Halloween party. County officials said the hosts “willfully violated” public health orders. The party was near Utah Lake in October and around 10,000 people attended. The county issued fines to four people and two businesses Monday and nine people were charged with Class B misdemeanors. Officials said the investigation is still ongoing. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Southern Utah

Bears Ears Visitor Center Advisory Committee Legislation Introduced

Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding and Rep. Doug Owens, D-Millcreek, are teaming up to create a new visitor center at the Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah. The monument was created in 2016. Former President Donald Trump downsized it significantly in 2017. Now, President Joe Biden is exploring restoring it to the original size. Lyman, whose district includes Bears Ears, does not support restoring it to its original size but Owens does. However, they both want a new visitor center there to educate tourists about the area and its cultural significance to native tribes. The lawmakers are sponsoring a bill to create a committee that would study how best to create that center. — Sonja Hutson