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AM News Brief: Opioid Legislation, Wind Farms & Voracious Grasshoppers

wind turbines
Dan Bammes
/
Wind energy has had a big boom in the last decade because of lower construction costs for wind farms and more states requiring renewable energy as part of their portfolios. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, June 24, 2021

State

Ranked-Choice Voting May Get Another Shot

Utah state Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley City, wants to resurrect a proposal to bring ranked-choice voting to some statewide elections. Right now, it’s only allowed in non-partisan local elections. Just two cities have tried it out since a pilot program launched in 2018. But this year, 23 plan to use it, and Winder hopes that will convince lawmakers to expand the practice. But, according to state elections director Justin Lee, there are logistical and security concerns. Because the state would have to count all the votes, counties would either have to send the data over the internet or drive it all the way to the Capitol. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Region/Nation

New Legislation To Curb Opioid Use

Rep. John Curtis, R-UT, joined a bipartisan group to introduce the Non-Opioid Directive Act Wednesday in Washington, D.C. A news release issued by his office said the act allows patients to notify health professionals that they don't want to be treated with opioids. There is an exception for providers to override the directive in the event a patient needs emergency treatment or requires an opioid during surgery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. died from opioid involved overdoses in 2019. That same year, an estimated 10 million people misused prescription painkillers. — Pamela McCall

Drought Means Voracious Grasshoppers

A drought blanketing the western U.S. is drying up waterways, sparking wildfires and leaving farmers scrambling for water. Next up: voracious grasshoppers. Federal agriculture officials are launching what could be their largest campaign since the 1980s to kill grasshoppers in western states. Ranchers fear the insects will strip bare the public and private rangeland where cattle graze. In central Montana, more than 50 miles to the nearest town, rancher Frank Wiederiick says the grasshoppers "are cleaning us out." He fears he will have to sell his cows as the infestation worsens. Scientists say such outbreaks could become more common as climate change shifts rainfall patterns. — Associated Press

PacifiCorp Looks To Build Wind Farms

Wind energy has had a big boom in the last decade because of lower construction costs for wind farms and more states requiring renewable energy as part of their portfolios. The Mountain West is home to some of the most powerful wind in the country, but much of the region lags behind other parts of the country according to new federal data out this week. PacifiCorp recently proposed building more wind farms in both Wyoming and Idaho as part of its extensive plan to retire most of its coal-fired power plants. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau