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PM News Brief: Cybersecurity, wildland firefighter pay & reconsidering short-term rentals

Photo of a wildfire response vehicle approaching flames.
Utah Fire Info
Federal legislation to bring additional funding and resources to wildfire management passed out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Wednesday. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, Oct. 28, 2021


School-aged children are a fifth of Thursday’s Utah COVID cases

The Utah Department of Health reported 1,859 new COVID-19 cases Thursday. School-aged kids made up 20% of new cases, and almost half of those kids were younger than 10. Nine more people have died of COVID-19, including a man younger than 25. More than 530 people are currently hospitalized with the virus — roughly the same as a week ago. — Martha Harris

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

State focuses on cybersecurity

Gov. Spencer Cox announced a new Cybersecurity Task Force Thursday. The group is a private-public partnership made up of safety officials, law enforcement and others. It will analyze security threats to the state and promote cybersecurity. Over the next year, it will also create the Governor's Cybersecurity Advisory Committee which will include educators, public officials, legislators and executives from private companies. Cox said in a press release “Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility between the public and private sector.” — Martha Harris

Potential impact of Bishop’s Redistricting Commission resignation

This week, some prominent Utah Republicans cast doubt on the way the new Independent Redistricting Commission works. Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson said the commission might need to be re-evaluated after former Congressman Rob Bishop unexpectedly quit the group. BYU political scientist Adam Brown said Wilson’s comments and Bishop’s withdrawal could weaken the public support for the commission, which, in its advisory role to the Legislature, is really the only power it has. Meanwhile, Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, said the House Speaker’s comments function to “completely undermine democracy.” Read the full story. — Emily Means


Federal firefighter pay increase takes another step

Federal legislation to bring additional funding and resources to wildfire management passed out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Wednesday. The Wildfire Recovery Act is led by Rep. Joe Neguse, D-CO, and has support from a bipartisan cohort from the West — including Rep. John Curtis, R-UT. The legislation would increase flexibility in who shoulders the financial burden of fires and the amount the federal government can kick in. It would also raise pay for wildland firefighters to at least $20 an hour. Right now, most make around $13.45 an hour. — Caroline Ballard

Ski towns reconsider short-term rentals

Some of the West’s most popular ski towns are voting Tuesday on whether to crack down on short-term vacation rentals. Voters in Telluride, Colorado, are looking at capping the number of short-term rentals in town and doubling licensing fees. In Crested Butte, Colorado, there’s a proposal to raise taxes on vacation rentals. The moves follow a regional crackdown. Earlier this month officials in Utah's Washington County limited vacation rentals for some areas. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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