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PM News Brief: Fishing Limits, COVID Numbers & Salt Lake’s Violent Crime Stats

A photo of a young boy finishing.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
People are now allowed to catch and keep more fish at 10 lakes in Utah as part of the Division of Wildlife Resources’ plan to maintain the health of fish populations during this summer’s drought. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, May 27, 2021

State

Lee’s First Major GOP Challenger Throws Hat Into Ring

Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, has the first major Republican challenger for his 2022 re-election bid. Former Utah state Rep. Becky Edwards announced her candidacy Thursday. She vowed to listen to her constituents' needs and not use her time in the Senate to pursue her own political aspirations. Lee's campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Edwards' campaign faces an uphill battle. According to a January poll from the Deseret News, 69% of Republican approve of Lee’s job performance. The incumbent senator’s re-election campaign reported to the Federal Election Commission that, as of March 31, it had nearly $1 million of cash on hand. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Governor Signs Bills From Special Session

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed 16 bills into law Thursday, including a controversial piece of legislation that bans school districts and universities from instituting their own mask mandates after this school year. Cox also signed a resolution that honors Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The governor didn’t need to sign resolutions on critical race theory and second amendment sanctuary status that the Legislature passed earlier this month. That’s because they’re a form of resolution that doesn't require the governor’s signature. Cox said though that he supported both of them. — Sonja Hutson

Average COVID-19 Cases Down From Last Week

The Utah Department of Health reported 309 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the week’s average to 245 new cases each day. That’s 46 fewer cases than this time last week. 57% of Utahns over the age of 12 have gotten at least one vaccine dose. The state also reported today that two more people have died from the disease — a man in Grand County and another in Salt Lake County. — Elaine Clark

Increased Fish Limits To Help Drought-Stricken Lakes

People are now allowed to catch and keep more fish at 10 lakes in Utah as part of the Division of Wildlife Resources’ plan to maintain the health of fish populations during this summer’s drought. The dry conditions will mean less water in lakes, and lower lake levels means warmer water and less oxygen for fish. Those factors can lead to disease and die off. Lakes with increased fishing limits include Blacksmith Fork River in Cache County, Forsyth Reservoir in Sevier County and Gunlock Reservoir in Washington County. The new limits will be in effect through Oct. 31. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Addressing Violent Crime In Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City officials announced Thursday that violent crime has decreased since January when the city amped up its law enforcement efforts. Violent crime had increased 21% from 2019 through 2020. So far this year, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said it’s still up over 2019 — but not as much. “We know that it's an incremental work that we're doing here, but all of the numbers are going in the right direction,” she said. Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said if they had more people, they could have a bigger impact. He said the department is down about 80 officers. — Emily Means

Region/Nation

Bill Aims To Fund Oil And Gas Well Clean-Up

Legislation to fund the cleanup of abandoned oil and gas wells passed the House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, D-NM, filed the bill and she recently told a committee panel it will help fight climate change. “Orphaned wells pose a serious threat to our communities and the climate,” Fernandez said. “They can leak toxic fluids into our water and pollutants into our atmosphere, including heat-trapping methane.” Her bill would also increase bonding requirements for oil and gas wells to assure companies have money to clean them up. Utah currently has around 70 abandoned wells and over 400 inactive wells that belong to operators but are not yet plugged. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff