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PM News Brief: Utah Military Members Honored, Citizen Engagement & Drought Emergencies

A photo of a surfboard on Lake Powell.
Mark Kennedy
The Kane County Commission declared a local state of emergency Tuesday because of the low water level at Lake Powell. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, Sept. 14, 2021

State

Four County Attorneys Announce Support To Eradicate Death Penalty 

The head prosecutors for four Utah counties announced their support Tuesday for getting rid of the death penalty. The message from the Salt Lake, Summit, Grand and Utah County Attorneys comes after two Republican state lawmakers said they would try again to repeal it. Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said it’s a matter of criminal justice reform, and the issue is completely nonpartisan. Last week, he announced he would no longer be seeking the death penalty in future cases. Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said he still stands by the death penalty, though, and would “fight like hell” to keep it. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Sen. Mitt Romney Honors Two Utah Military Members 

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, honored two Utah military members Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Sgt. Taylor Hoover from Sandy was killed in last month’s attacks at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Cpl. Wyatt Wilson from Carbon County sustained life threatening injuries. In a speech, Romney thanked them both for their service saying “you and your brothers and sisters in arms have answered the call to serve with valor and devotion, and your service rendered continues to protect us to this day.” Hoover was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in the airport attacks. Romney said he is praying for a speedy recovery for Wilson. — Ross Terrell

Utah Foundation Releases Citizen Engagement Report 

A new report from the Utah Foundation shows voter turnout has improved in Utah since 2006. But compared to the rest of the country, it was still on the low end in the 2020 presidential election. The Civic Engagement Report released Tuesday looked at how Utahns engage with their government. It measured voter turnout, public meeting attendance and the number of advocacy organizations. The state trails the nationwide rate when it comes to the number of advocacy organizations per capita, ranking 43rd in the U.S. The foundation also theorized that Utah’s universal vote-by-mail systems may have helped turnout increase over the last decade. One bright spot was citizen attendance at public meetings where Utah ranked third nationally. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Southern Utah Counties Declare States of Emergencies Due To Drought

The Kane County Commission declared a local state of emergency Tuesday because of the low water level at Lake Powell. Garfield County voted on a similar resolution during their meeting Monday. The county commissions say the lake’s low level and drought conditions across Utah negatively impact the residents of their counties. The emergency declarations are an effort to free up state and federal resources like financial assistance and aid. Currently Lake Powell is about one-third full. It reached a historic low earlier this year. — Lexi Peery, St. George