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PM News Brief: Riot Laws, ATV Curfews & Fatal Brian Head Accident

A photo of protestors at a Black Lives Matter protest.
KUER File Photo
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The Utah Senate passed a bill Wednesday morning that increases penalties for rioters. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, February 24, 2021

State

Utah Lawmakers Favor RECA Extension

Utah lawmakers want Congress to extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. It’s a federal program meant to help those suffering the effects of nuclear testing or uranium mining and set to expire next year. Rep. Doug Owens, D-Millcreek, is sponsoring a resolution asking Congress to extend the act. He says losing it would deprive many Utahns of justice. Utahns have received over $400 million through the program since it was established in 1990. The resolution has passed the Utah House. Grand and San Juan Counties have both passed similar resolutions. Read the full story. Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

State Senate Approves Riot Enforcement Bills

The Utah Senate passed a bill Wednesday morning that increases penalties for rioters. It includes immunity for drivers who hit or kill people if the driver feels unsafe while caught in a demonstration. That part of the bill has been controversial and has worried activists and civil liberties groups. It also allows people arrested for rioting to be held in jail without bail. Senators voted mostly along party lines. Except for two Democrats who supported the bill and three Republicans who opposed it. The bill now goes to the House for consideration. — Emily Means

COVID-19 Update

Utah health officials announced another 812 COVID-19 cases Wednesday. New cases have leveled off recently. The week long average is now below 770. Fourteen more people have died from the disease and about half of them were Salt Lake County residents. Utah’s test positivity rate remains steady right around 6%. — Ross Terrell

ATV Curfew Bill Fails In Utah Senate

A bill that would have set a curfew on all-terrain-vehicle use in resort communities failed in the Utah Senate Wednesday morning. Sen. Mike McKell, R- Spanish Fork, filed the bill to address noise issues caused by ATVs. It would have banned the vehicles’ use on city streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Initially, it would have applied between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. A bill filed in the House to require noise suppression equipment on motor vehicles also failed. Currently, it is legal to drive ATVs on city streets everywhere in Utah except Salt Lake County. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Southern Utah

Turn-About Ranch Client Files Lawsuit

A former client of Turn-About Ranch, a teen treatment business in Garfield County, filed a lawsuit against the facility Wednesday. In it, Hannah Archuleta alleges a staff member sexually abused her on multiple occasions and that the program retaliated against her after she reported the abuse. Archuleta is represented by the high-profile women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. Her former clients include women who say they were abused by Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. Read the full story.David Fuchs

Fatal Accident Near Brian Head In Southern Utah

A snowmobiling accident near Brian Head in southern Utah left one person dead and two others injured. Town marshals said it happened Tuesday afternoon and they performed CPR on scene but one woman couldn’t be revived. An adult man is in critical, but stable condition at Cedar City Hospital. Another woman was treated and has been released. Marshals urged people to be familiar with recreational equipment and use caution at all times. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Deb Haaland Says She Would Accept Invite To Utah

Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland said Wednesday she would listen to Utahns’ concerns about national monuments. The promise came in response to Sen. Mike Lee’s, R-UT, questioning during her confirmation hearing. “So if you’re confirmed, would you be willing to come to my state before any action is taken under the antiquities act and meet with some groups who I believe have not been listened to as much in the past?” Lee asked. “I absolutely would. I would never pass up an opportunity to visit Utah,” Haaland answered. She has faced criticism from western Republicans over her views on extraction and grazing on public lands. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American to lead the Interior Department. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff