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PM News Brief: Red Rock Wilderness, Funding Utah’s Tax Cut & Handling The Border Crisis

1599px-Escalante,_Grand_Staircase,_Utah Wikimedia.jpg
Susan Chastain/Wikimedia Commons
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America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would protect more than 8 million acres of land around the state of Utah. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, May 11, 2021

State

Gov. Spencer Cox Shares Utah’s COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts With President Joe Biden

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox joined five other governors on a call with President Joe Biden Tuesday. They talked about their states’ COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Cox said one way Utah is fighting hesitancy is by reminding people about the activities they can do again once they’re fully vaccinated, like going to “weddings and family reunions, Utah jazz games, quinceañeras.” Cox also talked about the importance of bringing mobile vaccine clinics to communities. State health officials reported 224 new cases Tuesday. So far, 1.36 million Utahns have received at least one vaccine dose. — Emily Means

Cox Also Signed On To A Letter For Biden Regarding The Border Crisis

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox wants President Joe Biden to take action on the southern border crisis. Cox joined 18 other Republican governors in sending a letter to the president. In it, they criticize the Biden administration’s handling of the situation. The governors said the border crisis is “entirely due to reckless federal policy” within Biden’s first 100 days. The letter also said the rate of migration there is no longer just affecting border states, but is also spilling over into other places. — Ross Terrell

Utah On Track To Keep Federal Money Used For Tax Cut

Utah will likely not have to return money to the federal government that it spent on a tax cut earlier this year because of new guidance released from the U.S. Treasury Department. A provision in the latest pandemic relief package says if states use the pandemic relief money to slash taxes, they’d have to return an equal amount in pandemic relief money. But new rules from the Treasury say that only applies if the state spent less money overall compared to the year before, not including funds from the federal relief package. Utah is on track to increase its spending this year and next according to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. — Sonja Hutson

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act Reintroduced In Congress

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would protect more than 8 million acres of land around the state of Utah. On Monday, the Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-IL, reintroduced it in Congress. Durbin said public lands are under increasing pressure to be developed or sold off, but this act will protect them while also helping slow climate change. Neither of Utah’s senators signed on to the legislation, but the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance supports the act. It was first introduced by a Utah Democrat in 1989. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

President Biden’s Ban On Oil And Gas Leases Not Having An Effect ... Yet

Energy companies sounded the alarm when President Joe Biden indefinitely paused oil and gas leasing in January. They projected billions of dollars of losses in just the first year. But drilling in Utah has already returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Mining. That’s not a surprise, said Landon Newell with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. He said it's because the price of crude oil is back up after hitting a record low last spring. But Kathleen Sgamma with the Western Energy Alliance said it’s still too early to tell what effect the ban could have in Utah. Read the full story.Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City Requiring Masks In All City Buildings

Utah’s statewide mask mandate has ended, but face coverings will still be required in all Salt Lake City facilities. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall signed an executive order Monday. It said people still have to mask up inside city buildings and vehicles and if they are employed by the city and working indoors. Face masks are also still required inside state and county government buildings. Exceptions include people under 3-years-old, while eating or drinking and at outdoor, socially distanced activities. The Salt Lake City order will stay in effect until it is rescinded. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Support For Redirecting Police Funding To Social Services

A new survey found broad public support for redirecting some police funds to social services. Some 1,400 Americans across political and racial lines provided their thoughts on public safety issues. The majority of respondents would like to see less money for police and more funding for things like youth recreation, neighborhood health centers and more teachers and counselors. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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