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AM News Brief: State Revenue Gains, Drinking Water Contaminant & Man Found Incompetent In LDS Church Shooting Trial

Photo of low reservoir.
iStock.com / tupungato
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This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency included a new family of chemicals in its latest draft of drinking water contaminants. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, July 14, 2021

State

Early Data Show State Revenue Gains

Preliminary data show Utah's total state revenues are up by over 30% at the end of the 2021 fiscal year compared to last year. In a news release, the Utah State Legislature said the findings include data from the Utah State Tax Commission. Officials said revenues increased more than economists expected which indicates strong economic growth coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. The release added that the impact of federal stimulus to the state and individuals throughout the year — and the extent to which it lifted the economy — is still uncertain. It suggested the injection of federal money may have created a one-time bolster effect that won't help revenues in the future. Fiscal year-end numbers are still tentative and subject to final accounting adjustments. — Pamela McCall

Special Units Aimed At Correcting Conviction Errors

Utah passed a law last year empowering prosecutors to create special units responsible for re-examining past convictions. At least four counties now have them: Salt Lake, Utah, Davis and Summit. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his office has an obligation to correct any errors it has made in the past. But rural county attorneys can have a harder time creating these teams because there may not be enough lawyers practicing in those areas. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Region/Nation

Man Found Incompetent For Trial In Nevada Church Shooting

The man accused of a 2018 shooting at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse in Fallon, Nevada, has been found incompetent to stand trial. 51-year-old John O'Connor allegedly killed one man and injured another during Sunday services. The Lahontan Valley News reported a judge issued the ruling Tuesday based on his finding that O'Connor is unable to assist in his defense. O'Connor has been in custody at a mental facility since September 2018 when a judge made a similar finding. He pleaded not guility to four charges including first-degree murder. — Associated Press

Accomplice Sentenced In Adoption Fraud Case

A woman in Arizona has been sentenced to two years in prison in an illegal adoption scheme involving a former politician and women from the Marshall Islands. Lynwood Jennet helped submit false applications for the birth mothers to receive state-funded health coverage at the direction of Paul Petersen. He is a Republican who served as Maricopa County assessor for six years and as an adoption attorney. Petersen pleaded guilty to crimes related to the scheme in three states — including Utah. He was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison in Utah for a human smuggling conviction. — Associated Press

The Road To Regulating Drinking Water Contaminant

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency included a new family of chemicals in its latest draft of drinking water contaminants. They’re a group of man-made chemicals that stick around for a very long time, including in the human body. They’re also thought to be widespread in our drinking water. They’re called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS. The EPA proposal to include PFAS in its list of water contaminants lays the groundwork for potential regulation down the road. But first, the agency proposes monitoring drinking water for some of these chemicals to get a better sense of their prevalence. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau