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AM News Brief: Vaccine lawsuit, governor’s approval rating & a free ride to the airport

Governor Spencer Cox
Steve Griffin
/
Deseret News
Gov. Spencer Cox’s approval rating dipped slightly in recent months according to an October poll from the Deseret News and Hinckley Institute of Politics. This story and more in Monday morning's news brief.

Monday morning, Nov. 1, 2021

State

Utah joins challenge over federal vaccine mandate

Utah has joined six other states in a lawsuit challenging President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. Republican state leaders, including Gov. Spencer Cox, released a joint statement this weekend expressing their opposition. They called Biden’s order “reckless and illegal” and said it would hurt the economy and families. The lawsuit was filed in federal court, and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes added that the state was ready to fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court. — Emily Means

Governor’s approval rating stands at 55%

Gov. Spencer Cox’s approval rating dipped slightly in recent months according to an October poll from the Deseret News and Hinckley Institute of Politics. The poll comes as Cox nears the end of his first year in office. However, a little more than half of Utahns still approve of his job performance. Cox also got favorable ratings for his handling of COVID-19 with 57% approval. The poll also looked at how people view Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Mitt Romney. The two Republicans got similar results, with 45% of Utahns approving of Lee, and 46% approving of Romney. However, Romney had an equal amount of people who were unhappy with his performance at 46%. More people were unsure of how they viewed Lee. — Caroline Ballard

Utah women’s voting participation

New data from the Utah Women and Leadership project show that in 2020, 66.6% of eligible women in Utah chose to vote — the highest number of women voters in 14 years. Women in Utah have a strong history of voting and were the first in the US to do so under an equal suffrage law in 1870. Utah was also the first state to elect a female state senator — over her own husband in the same race. As recently as 1992, Utah women had the highest voter turnout in the nation at 76% But, by 2006, women's voting rates in the state were the lowest in the country. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Parent group targets books in Washington County schools

Some parents in Washington County are trying to ban several books from school libraries. Most of the books they’re concerned about have to do with race or sexual and gender identity. They also have explicit language. Steve Dunham, the spokesperson for the Washington County School District, said educators have to take many factors into consideration when choosing books. Katie Wegner, a co-chair of the Utah Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, supports librarians and teachers who face challenges to materials. She said censorship is when one person or group tries to decide what everyone can read. Dunham said the district is working with the state to review the books, but he also encourages parents to trust educators to take on challenging subjects. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Northern Utah

Need a ride to the airport?

People flying in and out of the Salt Lake International Airport can catch a free ride on public transit for the next few months. The promotion is a way for the Utah Transit Authority to celebrate the opening of a new TRAX station at the airport. Riders need to show a boarding pass to bus drivers or fare inspectors, and it’s only valid the day of the flight. It works on nearly all modes of transit, including the Frontrunner, TRAX trains and most buses. The free fare for travelers lasts through the end of January. — Emily Means

Region/Nation

Indigenous census data show large increase

The number of people in the U.S. that identify as Indigenous has increased by 160% since 2010 according to the 2020 census. Officials said improved methodology around race and ethnicity questions accounts for the large increase. The census also found that Montana and New Mexico had the largest percentage of people identifying as Indigenous. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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