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PM News Brief: BYU Rainbow 'Y', No Charges In Police Shooting & Utah Jazz Recap

A photo of the main Utah Jazz offices.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
The first half of the NBA season is in the books and the Utah Jazz have the league’s best record. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, March 5, 2021

State

Utah Lawmakers Make It Harder To Get Citizen Led Initiatives On The Ballot

The Utah Legislature has passed a bill that could make it tougher for a citizen-led initiative to get on the ballot. If it becomes law, people would have to identify themself as a paid signature gatherer and the organization that’s funding them. The measure also requires initiative sponsors to send an email to everyone who provided one about how to remove their name from a petition. Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, said it would improve transparency around the process. But Alliance for a Better Utah, a government accountability group, said it creates “a more burdensome process” for gathering signatures, pushing people to use paid signature gathering companies. Read the full story.Emily Means

Utah Jazz Hold On To NBA’s Best Record Halfway Through The Season

The first half of the NBA season is in the books and the Utah Jazz have the league’s best record. The Jazz have 27 wins to just 9 losses but have lost their past two games. Both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert will represent Utah in the All-Star game Sunday night. It’s being played in Atlanta with limited people in attendance. Mitchell will also make his debut in the three point contest. If he wins, he’d become the first player in NBA history to win the three point shootout and slam dunk competition — a trophy he won in 2018. Tip off for Sunday’s game is at 6 p.m. — Ross Terrell

Andrea Martinez Appointed Acting U.S. Attorney For Utah, First Latina In The Role

Andrea T. Martinez has been appointed acting United States Attorney for the District of Utah. She is the first latina to serve in the role and just the third woman. Martinez previously served in the U.S. Attorney’s office and has been involved in violent crime prosecution. Utah’s former U.S. Attorney John Huber resigned in February. In his letter, he said it was after President Joe Biden’s direction to do so. Martinez will serve until Biden nominates someone for the role and that person is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

University Of Utah Health Looks Back On Years Of Treating COVID-19 Patients

It’s been close to a year since hospitals in Utah started treating COVID-19 patients. For a while, ICUs were at or near maximum capacity. Neal Murphy was one of the University of Utah Health’s first COVID patients. He said doctors gave him a 3% chance of survival, but a photo he had of John McCain as a prisoner of war gave him strength before he was put on a ventilator. There are currently 203 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, and about 72% of ICU beds are full. Health officials also reported 549 new cases Friday. Nearly 2,000 people have died from the disease. — Jon Reed

Officer Omar Flores Not Justified In Shooting Bryan Pena-Valencia

A Unified Police officer shot and killed Bryan Pena-Valencia last March, after Pena fled a traffic stop. Friday, Salt Lake County’s District Attorney announced Officer Omar Flores was not justified in the shooting but he will not face any charges. Since there’s no body cam footage of the shooting, the DA’s office said they don’t have enough evidence for criminal charges. Flores is still on administrative leave while an internal review is conducted. — Ross Terrell

BYU’s “Y” Lit Up In Rainbow Lights To Support LGBTQ Community

Brigham Young University students lit up the “Y” on the slopes above the campus with rainbow lights Thursday night. The group “Color the Campus” organized the display to support the LGBTQ community. It also encouraged students and supporters to wear rainbow colors in what it called “Rainbow Day.” It marked one year since the school said “same-sex romantic displays” were still prohibited and would be disciplined. That came after the language banning them had been quietly removed from the honor code. The university tweeted Thursday night saying it did not authorize the rainbow lighting of the "Y." — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

OPEC Decision Could Cause Gas Prices To Rise In The U.S.

Oil prices rebounded in a big way recently after the oil cartel OPEC decided it would keep curbing production. That is, countries led by Saudi Arabia decided to keep pumping less oil onto the global market, and that means higher prices. But that’ll also mean higher gasoline prices in places like the U.S., where people are already struggling economically. Also, if independent oil producers decide to ramp up later this year in response to higher prices, that could re-flood the market and push prices back down. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau