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PM News Brief: A Campaign Chest, Child Tax Credit Checks & A Call For Better Pay For Wildland Firefighters

A photo of firefighters headed toward a smoky landscape.
Courtesy Utah Fire Info Twitter
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, and other members of the Wildfire Caucus are urging Congress to spend more money on fighting and preventing blazes. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, July 15, 2021

State

Long-Term Drought Solutions

The Legislature could consider some long-term drought solutions next year, according to Gov. Spencer Cox. Local water districts are responsible for imposing short-term limits on how much water people can consume. Cox said they should make sure they’re enforcing those rules with things like fines and turning off people’s water if they don’t comply. The governor is working with lawmakers on longer-term proposals like creating monetary incentives for farmers to use less water. The Legislature would likely take those up in January when lawmakers reconvene. Read the full story. Sonja Hutson

Lee Challenger Builds Campaign Funds

Former state Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, is doing a pretty good job fundraising so far for her campaign against Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. About a month in, Edwards has about $466,000 in the bank, but more than half of that is her own money she’s loaned to her campaign. There’s still about a year to go before the Republican primary. Lee’s filing has not been uploaded yet to the Federal Election Commission website, but at the end of March, his campaign reported they had nearly $1 million in the bank. — Sonja Hutson

Take Part In Redistricting

Utah’s new Independent Redistricting Commission launched a website Wednesday that will let citizens try their hand at drawing voting district boundaries. The bipartisan commission will recommend maps to the Legislature to create new boundaries for congressional, legislative and school board districts. People can also submit formal comments about redistricting and view census data once it’s available. State lawmakers said they expect the data to arrive in August. — Tess Roundy

Region/Nation

Curtis Wants More Money For Wildland Firefighters

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, and other members of the Wildfire Caucus are urging Congress to spend more money on fighting and preventing blazes. Curtis told reporters on a call Thursday that should include paying federal firefighters more. But he also praised private firefighting contractors that allow the government the flexibility to expand and shrink their workforce. Curtis said wildfires are also an air quality issue — even in states that aren’t experiencing massive blazes. That’s because smoke can travel from neighboring states. — Sonja Hutson

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

Child Tax Credit Payments Begin

Up to $300 monthly payments arrive in American bank accounts this week courtesy of the expanded Child Tax Credit. Experts say the money could cut child poverty in half. In Mountain West states, child poverty rates range from 10-25% — 10% in Utah. Families will receive the payments through December, though Democrats in Congress largely support a permanent expansion. No Republicans voted for the American Rescue Plan, which included the extended Child Tax Credit. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau