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AM News Brief: Banning Residential Protests, Natural Hair Bill Stalls & Food Workers At Risk

Angela Dunn Sign EC.png
Elaine Clark
/
KUER
A bill moving through Utah’s House would make it illegal to protest at the residences of both public officials and private citizens. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, February 10, 2021

State

Committee Approves Police Reform Bills

A Utah House committee unanimously approved four bills Tuesday aimed at gathering more data about police use of force and strengthening disciplinary processes for law enforcement. The state Legislature is considering around a dozen police reform bills this session in the wake of last summer’s protests against police brutality. Under a bill sponsored by Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Salt Lake City, law enforcement agencies must provide information about an open investigation into an officer’s conduct to another law enforcement agency that requests it during the hiring process. Law enforcement officers would have to file a report every time they point a gun or a taser at someone under a bill from Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Banning Protests At Homes

A bill moving through Utah’s House would make it illegal to protest at the residences of both public officials and private citizens. The legislation is in response to protests at houses of public official’s last year. Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said this bill would stop harassment. “I had to get an alarm system in my house because of bills I run,” she said. “I would not want a public servant to go through the things I had to go through.” During public comment, people took issue with the bill saying many elected officials are now working from home and protesting is their only way to be heard. The legislation would make residential protesting punishable by up to 6 months in jail. — Ivana Martinez

Committee Holds Bill To Allow Natural Hair

Utah Senate Economic Development committee considered a bill Tuesday to ban job discrimination based on hairstyles. Advocates of the CROWN Act said that people of African descent face a psychological toll when they’re made to feel their natural hair isn’t appropriate, and some also pointed to health and economic harms. Tereza Richardson, 16, is from Utah and said she’s often been told that if she straightened her hair she’d be prettier and look more professional. She said the bill would give her comfort as she ventures into adulthood. The committee vote was split two-to-two, and committee chair Sen. Ronald Winterton, R-Roosevelt, said the bill should be heard with more committee members present. — Elaine Clark

Reconsider Military Retirement Taxes

State lawmakers are considering exempting military retirement pay from being taxed as income. Utah is currently one of only four states that treats military retirement income as taxable. The House unanimously approved a bill Tuesday to change that. Representatives said it would make the state more attractive to retirees, especially to ones that might want to start a second career in the defense sector. — Sonja Hutson

Looking for more coverage from Utah’s Capitol Hill? Check out KUER’s podcast 45 Days.

Northern Utah

USU To Host Small, In-Person Commencements

Utah State University's commencement activities expand this spring compared to last year. USU officials announced Tuesday the school will host 50 in-person college convocation events in early May. They said graduating students will be able to celebrate on campus despite the ongoing pandemic. A statement from the Logan school said celebrations will be in several locations across campus and limited to students and some college faculty. Families and friends of students are able attend via livestream. USU President Noelle Cockett will confer degrees by recorded video at each small gathering. — Bob Nelson

Region/Nation

Food Workers At Risk

Roughly 400 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union have died from COVID-19, according to numbers released Tuesday by the labor organization. The report said nearly 80,000 workers have been exposed to or infected with the virus. The union is urging more states to expedite vaccine access for grocery and meatpacking workers. Wyoming is the only state in the Mountain West where these workers are currently eligible to receive the vaccine. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau