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AM News Brief: Drought’s Impact On Fall Foliage, State’s Economic Recovery & Governor Calls Federal Mandate Unconstitutional

A cow stands in dry grass next to a lake. The mountains in the background ground are covered with colorful fall trees.
Wikimedia Commons
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April showers might bring May flowers, but drought conditions can ruin autumn’s colors. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, Sept. 14, 2021

State

Utah Boasts Second Lowest Unemployment Rate In The U.S.

Utah ranks second in the nation for lowest unemployment rate and highest job growth according to the Salt Lake Chamber’s Economic dashboard. It’s a tool to track the state’s economic recovery during the pandemic. Salt Lake Chamber president and CEO Derek Miller said Utah is seeing gains in construction, financial services, manufacturing and trade, but consumer confidence has fallen since April. Miller said that’s because of the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant. He added the state needs to see more participation in the job market and more employee vaccination to help with the financial recovery. — Elaine Clark

Cox Calls Federal Vaccine Mandate Unconstitutional

Gov. Spencer Cox is pushing back against President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate. Last week, Biden announced that businesses with more than 100 employees must make sure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly. The governor appeared on Fox Business Monday, saying, “there's certainly no precedent for this. And I believe — and our attorney general believes — that this is likely unconstitutional.” Cox said more people need to get vaccinated to get us out of the pandemic crisis, but that “you have to do it the right way.” Monday, the Utah Department of Health reported the state’s seven-day average for new cases has risen to more than 1,545. — Elaine Clark

Extreme Weather Paints Mixed Outlook For Utah Fall Foliage

April showers might bring May flowers, but drought conditions can ruin autumn’s colors. The website Accuweather has published its annual forecast for fall foliage. Nearly 90% of Utah is still experiencing extreme drought. Meteorologists say that puts stress on trees and means there might not be much color before the leaves fall. Accuweather predicts a dull palette for Northern Utah and normal colors for the central part of the state. But the season’s monsoon rains in Southern Utah could mean more vibrant colors this year than in 2020. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Legislative Committee Set To Vote On Controversial Ballpark Homeless Shelter

A Utah legislative committee is expected to vote Tuesday afternoon on funding for an overflow homeless shelter in Salt Lake City’s Ballpark neighborhood near the Bee’s stadium. There are already two homeless resource centers in the area, and the potential shelter would add 80-100 beds. Amy Hawkins, chair of the Ballpark Community Council, said the area is “over capacity” with social services, and it’s impacting safety in the neighborhood. Last week, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall withdrew her support from the shelter, though she had previously voted for it as a member of the Utah Homelessness Council. In August, Mendenhall announced 300 more beds were needed to support unsheltered people in the city. Read the full story. — Emily Means