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PM News Brief: Immigration Reform Fast, Federal Wildfire Call & Opposing Anti-Trans Legislation

A photo of a transgender pride flag.
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Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill is joining with more than 70 members of law enforcement nationwide to condemn anti-trans legislation. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, June 30, 2021

State

Expanded Access To Utah’s Upstart Program

The Utah-based kindergarten prep program Upstart is one tool that can help young students develop foundational skills that help them later in life. It’s funded by the state and free to families, but not all parents have the time to access it. Kindergarten teacher Jeremy Reynoso said only a handful of his students come in each year having used the software and it’s generally those whose parents have the resources to closely monitor their kids’ education. He said parent involvement is crucial for students’ success, particularly young children, but the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges many families face. Read the full story. Jon Reed

Immigration Activists Fasting In Push For Federal Immigration Reform

Utah immigration activists started a two day fast Wednesday to push for federal immigration reform. They want Congress to pass the U.S. Citizenship Act. It provides a path to citizenship for undocumented people who pay their taxes and pass background checks. Aimee Contreras is one of eight people participating in the fast. She said many immigrants, like her parents, were on the front line of the pandemic as essential workers. "My parents are brave, strong and very well deserving in receiving U.S. citizenship for how much they have given to this country," she said. The group is circulating a petition urging Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, to support the legislation. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Sees Highest COVID-19 Case County In More Than Two Months

Utah health officials reported 574 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. That’s the most in a single day since late April. Officials announced 590 cases April 21. Utah’s test positivity rate has now climbed to 6.5%. At the start of June it was below 4%. Three more people have died from the virus. They were all women over the age of 45. So far, about 44% of all Utahns are fully vaccinated. — Ross Terrell

Gov. Spencer Cox Joins President Biden For Call On Wildfires

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox joined other western leaders in a call with President Joe Biden Wednesday. Biden discussed the administration’s plan to address wildfire threats. It includes higher pay for federal firefighters, improving response capabilities and investing in resiliency efforts. Utah fire officials said last week wildfire activity was light. There were 35 new starts but the week before there were 66. Still, there has been a new ignition every day since May 17. There are currently five wildfires burning in Utah that have each burned at least 500 acres. As the 4th of July nears, local and state leaders are continuing to urge Utahns to avoid using personal fireworks during the summer holidays. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Follow KUER’s coverage of Utah’s 2021 Fire Season.

Northern Utah

Sim Gill Signs Letter Opposing Anti-Trans Legislation

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill is joining with more than 70 members of law enforcement nationwide to condemn anti-trans legislation. They signed onto the joint statement Tuesday ranging from elected prosecutors to sheriffs to the Law Enforcement Action Partnership. They called these laws a “threat to public safety” and said they serve no legitimate purpose. Some state legislatures, including Utah, have pursued bills that would make it illegal for minors to access gender affirming healthcare, or for trans athletes to compete on women’s sports teams. Those proposals were voted down here earlier this year, but proponents will likely re-introduce similar legislation in the future. Gill’s was the only signature from Utah. — Caroline Ballard