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PM News Brief: Sen. Mike Lee On Voting Bill, Reintroducing Jaguars & Real Salt Lake Fans

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Ray Terrill
/
Flickr
When Real Salt Lake players take the field at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday, they could be doing so in front of 10,000 fans — about half of the stadium’s full capacity. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, May 12, 2021

State

Utah’s Congressional Delegation Responds To Liz Cheney Ouster

Utah’s Congressional delegation is weighing in on the House Republicans’ vote to remove Rep. Liz Cheney, R-WY, from her leadership role. Cheney has been outspoken in criticizing former President Donald Trump and his accusations of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Rep. John Curtis, R-UT, and Rep. Chris Stewart, R-UT, both voted to remove her. Rep. Blake Moore, R-UT, voted against her removal and Rep. Burgess Owens, R-UT, did not attend the vote. In separate statements, both Curtis and Stewart said their votes were not meant to silence Cheney, but to unify their party. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, tweeted “expelling Liz Cheney from leadership won’t gain the GOP one additional voter, but it will cost us quite a few.” — Caroline Ballard

Sen. Mike Lee Decries Democrat Voting Bill On Fox News

Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, called a Democratic-led voting rights bill a power grab. It would require automatic voter registration, weaken some state voter ID laws, and expand mail-in voting among other things. "This bill would turn the Democratic Party into a sort of revolutionary institutional party that would control American politics for decades and would do so in a way that would clamp down on political free speech to such a degree that it would almost rival the Alien and Sedition Acts in terms of the tyranny it imposes on the American people," Lee told Fox News Wednesday morning. — Sonja Hutson

Utah COVID-19 Update

Utah’s Department of Health reported an increase of 468 COVID-19 cases Wednesday. It also reported 13 more people died from the virus, though 12 of the deaths happened more than a month ago. The state’s test positivity rate is holding relatively steady at 3.6%. As for vaccines, more than 2.3 million doses have been administered and over 57%t of eligible Utahns 16 years old and up have gotten at least one dose. — Caroline Ballard

Utah Ending Its Participation In Federal Unemployment Pandemic Assistance

Utah’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment assistance will end June 26. Right now, people who are unemployed can receive an additional $300 a week in payments. But Gov. Spencer Cox has said that dissuades people from looking for jobs and returning to work. The governor’s office said the state’s economy is recovering and there is no shortage of jobs in Utah. Officials said there are 50,000 openings on jobs.utah.gov. State data show about 28,000 people here are currently receiving the extra federal payment. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Cottonwood Heights Police Cleared By Attorney General’s Audit

The Utah Attorney General’s Office found police acted appropriately when they responded to a protest in Cottonwood Heights last summer. The protest on Aug. 2, 2020 was in remembrance of Zane James, who was shot and killed by Cottonwood Heights police in 2018. Police used tasers and pepper spray at the demonstration after some protesters became aggressive. James’ family filed a federal lawsuit this week alleging police used excessive force at the protest. An attorney for the family said the AG's report “cherry-picked facts.” Read the full story. — Emily Means

Real Salt Lake To Allow 10,000 Fans Inside Rio Tinto Stadium

When Real Salt Lake players take the field at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday, they could be doing so in front of 10,000 fans — about half of the stadium’s full capacity. The team recently announced it will start allowing more fans at games. Previously, only 5,000 people were allowed in. Masks are also no longer required, but they are strongly recommended. The looser COVID-19 policies follow changes to state health guidelines now that cases and spread of the disease have slowed. RSL officials said seating will still be socially distant and there will continue to be contactless entry. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Reintroducing Jaguars To The Mountain West

The wolf isn’t the only carnivore environmentalists want reintroduced in our region. New Mexico and Arizona were home to many jaguars in the past. The large cat was hunted to near extinction in the U.S., but a few have been seen in recent years, traveling up from Mexico. Now, a group of environmental scientists is calling for a discussion about reintroducing the big cat. They’ve pinpointed an area of about 2 million acres between New Mexico and Arizona that they believe could be prime habitat for up to 150 jaguars. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau