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PM News Brief: Signature Gathering, Deb Haaland Hearing & Federal Leasing Ban

A photo of Deb Haaland.
Wikimedia Commons
The U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Deb Haaland Tuesday morning. President Joe Biden nominated her in December to lead the Interior Department. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, February 22, 2021

State

Limiting Police Use Of Lethal Force In Certain Situations

A bill making its way through the Utah Legislature would limit when police can use lethal force. The legislation aims to prevent police from shooting someone having a suicidal crisis — as long as they aren’t a threat to someone else. Activists and representatives from law enforcement agencies showed their support for the bill. It unanimously passed the House Law Enforcement Committee Monday. Read the full story. Emily Means

Utah Legislative Leaders Pursuing Tax Cuts

Utah legislative leadership announced Monday they are pursuing $100 million in annual tax cuts through a series of three bills. One bill brings back part of the dependent tax exemption. Another stops the state from collecting income tax on military retirement pay. The third bill eliminates income tax for some social security income. "We want to put money back in the hands of the Utahns who need it most, specifically Utah's families, veterans and seniors,” Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said during a Monday press conference. Read the full story. Sonja Hutson

Signature Gathering For Primary Ballots May Be Up To The Parties

Utah lawmakers are considering changing the way political candidates can qualify for their party’s primary ballot. Right now, people can get on the ballot by gathering enough signatures or being nominated at their party’s convention. Under the proposed bill headed for the Senate floor, parties could decide how people would qualify. Proponents say that parties should get to decide which option works best for them. But critics of the bill said only allowing state delegates at a convention to choose candidates leads to more extremism. — Sonja Hutson

COVID-19 Daily Cases Continue To Fall

Utah saw just 338 new COVID-19 cases Monday, according to the state’s department of health. That’s the lowest new daily case count since early September. The seven day average for daily positive cases is 760 and test positivity rates also continue to fall. There are 237 people currently hospitalized with the disease. That’s down from more than 270 last week. One more person has died. They were a resident of a long-term care facility. — Caroline Ballard

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Utah’s Governor Signs A Letter To The President Regarding Leasing Ban

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and 16 other Republican governors are asking President Joe Biden to reverse a ban on energy leasing. They sent a letter to the president Monday citing concerns about the new policy. It stops the Department of the Interior from issuing new leases of federal public land to energy developers. Around 3 million acres of land in Utah are currently leased for drilling. The letter says the ban will create significant job loss in Utah and other western states. It also cites concerns about national security and climate change. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Northern Utah

Inmate Stabbed At Davis County Jail

An inmate was injured in a stabbing over the weekend at the Davis County jail. In a press release, the jail identified the victim as a male, but did not release their age or name for privacy reasons. His injuries were not life threatening. Officials said an investigation is underway by the Farmington Police Department and the Davis County Correctional Facility. It would also be reviewed by the Life Safety Committee at the jail. No other information was given about the circumstances of the stabbing. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Hearing For New Interior Department Secretary Set For Tuesday Morning

The U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Deb Haaland Tuesday morning. President Joe Biden nominated her in December to lead the Interior Department. Haaland is a Democrat and currently represents New Mexico in the U.S. House. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American to hold the position of Interior Secretary, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tribal leaders in Utah, including Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez, have hailed the nomination as a huge step forward for Native Americans. But many Republicans are critical of Haaland’s position on extraction. So far, Utah’s congressional delegation hasn’t publicly opposed her nomination. If confirmed, she would oversee over 30 million acres of federal public land in Utah. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff