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AM News Brief: New West Valley representative, Saturday redistricting deadline & Rose Park community fridge

A photo of legislators sitting at a table in front of mics.
Emily Means
Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, is on the Legislature’s redistricting committee. This is the last week that Utahns can give feedback to the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission. This story and more in Monday morning's news brief.

Monday morning, Oct. 18, 2021


Redistricting deadline

This is the last week that Utahns can give feedback to the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission. The commission is in the process of drawing new district maps for Congress as well as the state House of Representatives, Senate and school board. The state Legislature will make the final decision though. The independent commission has a public hearing on Thursday in Herriman and Saturday in West Valley City, but they can be joined remotely. People who want to give feedback by Oct. 23 can submit their own maps online or give verbal feedback during the meetings. — Sonja Hutson

New law helps adoptees get birth certificates

Starting next month, Utah-born adoptees could have easier access to a copy of their birth certificate and health histories. A law passed by the state Legislature last year allows birth parents to upload the information into an updated online registry. Aubree Sullivan is a licensed clinical social worker in southern Utah and works with adoptees. She said the changes can make it less traumatic for people to find out about their past. Kathy Searle, with the nonprofit Raising the Future, said an important aspect of the new law is the potential for adoptees to access health information. She said there could still be more done to help adoptees, but this is a step in the right direction. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery

Northern Utah

New state representative from West Valley City

The Utah House of Representatives will soon have a new member. The Salt Lake County Republican Party selected Judy Weeks Rohner to replace former Rep. Craig Hall who was sworn in as a state judge last month. Weeks Rohner will represent parts of West Valley City. She helped organize a referendum to repeal a tax reform law in late 2019 and early 2020. The state Legislature rolled back the law once the referendum was on track to make it on to the ballot. — Sonja Hutson

Rose Park community fridge

There’s a new community fridge on the West Side of Salt Lake City near Rose Park. Like a food pantry, it will be open for people to donate food or pick some up throughout the day. Salt Lake Community Mutual Aid organized the effort and will be managing the fridge. They plan to set up several more community fridges throughout the city in the coming months. — Ivana Martinez


High state prison incarceration rates for people of color

The nation has made little progress in addressing deep racial and ethnic disparities in state prisons according to a new report by an advocacy group called The Sentencing Project. Western states like Idaho, and Montana had particularly high rates of Black incarceration. Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho topped the list for rates of Latinx incarcerated people. Meanwhile, Native Americans are incarcerated in local jails at more than double the rate of white people, according to national data from the Prison Policy Initiative. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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