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AM News Brief: Funding National Guard, Improving Energy Transmission & Reducing Idaho Wolves By 90%

Utah National Guard Police Protests KM
Kelsie Moore
/
KUER
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., have introduced a bill aimed at ensuring that National Guard units are reimbursed for using federal equipment during state missions.

Thursday morning, April 29, 2021

State

Jobs Are Available, But Workers Are Scarce

Businesses in Utah are struggling to find the workers they need as the state’s economy rebounds. Some economists believe that expanded unemployment benefits have made hiring people more complicated. Another part of the problem is a mismatch between the skills people have and the jobs they want versus the opportunities available, according to Michael Jeanfreau, a regional economist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services. He said that means companies now not only have to increase pay to entice people in, they also have to take on more of the responsibility of training them on the job. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Southern/Central Utah

Heritage Areas Get Bid For Extended Funding

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney and Republican Rep. Chris Stewart have joined three Democratic Nevada lawmakers on a bill that extends protection of land and historic sites in Utah and Nevada. The legislation re-authorizes funding for the Great Basin and Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Areas. The Great Basin Heritage Area spans White Pine County, Nevada and Utah’s Millard County, and the Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area covers six southern and central Utah Counties. Combined, the two designations received $6 million in federal funds since they were created in 2006. That money has been used on things like restoring historic buildings, funding school field trips and creating trails. — Elaine Clark

Region/Nation

Reimbursing The National Guard

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., have introduced a bill aimed at ensuring that National Guard units are reimbursed for using federal equipment during state missions. Currently, federal law allows for the use of equipment like helicopters and trucks — but requires that the state reimburse them for any associated costs. In turn, state reimbursements are diverted to the U.S Treasury under the Miscellaneous Receipts Act, or MRA. The new bill will provide an exemption from the MRA, allowing the National Guard to cover budget shortfalls caused by the current system. — Pamela McCall

Idaho Bill Could Cut Wolf Population By 90%

Former wildlife managers are asking Idaho Gov. Brad Little to veto a bill that could cut the state's wolf population by 90%. The bill was approved by the Legislature Tuesday and allows Idaho to hire private contractors to kill wolves in the wild. That includes the killing of nursing mothers and wolf pups. Opponents include former U.S. Forest Service staff. They argue it violates the ethics of sportsmen and longstanding wildlife management practices. The bill is backed by the agriculture industry which maintains wolves are attacking wildlife and livestock. — Associated Press

Delivering Energy

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Energy announced more than $8 billion in loans to construct and improve the country’s transmission grid. President Joe Biden wants the nation to produce 100% clean energy by the year 2035, but new electrical infrastructure is badly needed to carry energy from the places where it’s produced to where it’s consumed. The new transmission lines could jumpstart renewable energy production in the Mountain West according to Michael Goggin with Grid Strategies, a D.C.-based power sector consulting firm. He said the loans could create a lot of jobs too. But before construction can even begin, transmission lines need approval through several agencies and that can take decades. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau