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PM News Brief: Lauren McCluskey’s Birthday, Clean Energy Jobs & Avalanche Report

Photo of U of U students holding a sign that says In Memory Of Lauren McCluskey.
Rocio Hernandez
/
The Utah Legislature honored former University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey on Friday, which would have been her 24th birthday. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Friday evening, February 12, 2021

State

Gov. Spencer Cox Eliminates Concealed Carry Requirements

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill into law Friday that will remove the requirement to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm. The law passed the state Legislature almost entirely along party lines. It takes effect in early May. Cox’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Former Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed a similar bill in 2013. Supporters of the law say Utah should trust law-abiding gun owners to act responsibly. Critics are worried about the consequences of not requiring background checks and gun safety courses. Read the full story. — Ross Terrell & Sonja Hutson

Utah Introduces Bill To Ban No-Knock Warrants

A proposal by a Utah lawmaker would restrict when police can use no-knock warrants. The bill would ban no-knock warrants unless there’s a serious threat against someone. It would also require officers to wait a reasonable amount of time for someone to respond after they announce themselves. At a legislative hearing Friday, civil liberties groups said the bill would make situations safer for police and the public. But law enforcement agencies argued it would impact investigations. Read the full story.Emily Means

State Senators Rework Controversial Public Education Funding Bill

Utah senators have reworked a controversial bill that would’ve allowed public education funding to follow students if they left their district. Some said it unfairly punished the Salt Lake City School District, which until Jan. 25, had been the only district in the state to not offer in-person classes. The bill now directs the state health department to help schools with widespread COVID-19 testing. It also raises the threshold for when schools need to start widespread testing — if 2% of the student population tests positive for COVID-19. Republican Senator Todd Weiler said the bill is designed to help keep schools open and avoid disruptions. The bill was reintroduced Friday but put on hold so the education community can review it. The senate plans to debate the bill again next week. — Jon Reed

Utah Could Add 25,000 Jobs In Clean Energy Sector Over Next Decade

Utah has the potential to add 25,000 jobs in the clean energy sector over the next 10 years. That’s according to a report released Friday from the Sorenson Impact Center. It’s a nonprofit, social organization on the University of Utah’s campus. The report also proposes the creation of a non-profit Utah Clean Energy Fund. It would be tasked with increasing investments into the industry. The fund would focus on adding solar, wind and geothermal opportunities across the state for residential and commercial use. The report will be presented to the state Legislature during this session and the fund could be created this fall. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Utah Avalanche Center Releases Full Report On Deadly Event Last Weekend

The Utah Avalanche Center released its full report Friday on the avalanche that killed four people last weekend. In a video about the accident, forecaster Nikki Champion said eight skiers were hiking up the mountain when the avalanche broke loose. Six people were buried. The remaining two members pulled off a heroic attempt to rescue the others, saving two people. The report further detailed the harrowing chain of events. It noted one skier was slammed into a tree, but was able to hold on until the avalanche passed. He then tried to resuscitate his girlfriend, but could not. The center warns of continued avalanche danger throughout the state. Snow storms are expected throughout the weekend, with up to 18 inches of snow in some areas. — Jon Reed

Sen. Derek Kitchen Honors Lauren McCluskey On What Would Be Her 24th Birthday

The Utah Legislature honored former University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey Friday. It would have been her 24th birthday. McCluskey was murdered on campus by an ex-boyfriend in 2018. Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, wanted to acknowledge her death as a result of an institutional failure. “Lack of direct action by law enforcement not only betrayed Lauren but the community at large,” Kitchen said. “They created an environment in which survivors felt and were less safe.” This session, the legislature will consider approving a multi-million-dollar settlement from the University of Utah to the McCluskey family. — Emily Means

COVID-19 Outbreak In Timpanogos Facility At Draper Prison

The Utah Department of Corrections has had its first COVID-19 outbreak in female housing. Inmates at the Timpanogos facility in Draper reported having symptoms earlier this week. Now, quarantine and widespread testing are underway. There are currently 123 active cases between inmates at the Draper and Gunnison sites and state inmates at county jails. Utah health officials also announced another 1,060 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, and 312 people are hospitalized for the disease. That’s down compared to a week ago. — Ross Terrell