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AM News Brief: Salt Lake City hall reopens, Utah’s charitable giving & wildfires and public health

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Brian Grimmett
/
KUER
Salt Lake City hall has reopened following more than a year of pandemic-related precautions and ongoing earthquake repairs. This story and more in Thursday morning's news brief.

Thursday morning, Nov. 11, 2021

State

Legislature agrees on bail reform compromise

The Utah Legislature almost unanimously passed a bill Wednesday aimed at easing the state’s reliance on cash bail. It instructs judges to consider a person's risk level, as well as their likelihood to appear in court, when setting their conditions of release from jail before their trial. Those can include things like ankle monitors, drug testing or promising to appear in court. Judges can still impose monetary bail, but it must be based on a person's ability to pay. The Legislature passed a massive overhaul of the bail system in 2020 and then largely repealed it early this year. This compromise legislation is the result of months of negotiations between lawmakers, law enforcement, the courts, prosecutors and defense attorneys. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Utah tops nation in charitable giving

Utah is the most charitable state in the nation according to new analysis from the personal finance site WalletHub. The study looked at 19 metrics based on Census Bureau, IRS and other data. Utah stood out for the percent of donated income and the state’s volunteer rate. The pandemic did have a negative impact on how much people volunteered across the country, but the National Philanthropic Trust found that charitable donations were up more than 5% from 2019 to 2020. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City hall reopens to public

Salt Lake City hall has reopened following more than a year of pandemic-related precautions and ongoing earthquake repairs. City offices closed to the public in March of last year to slow the spread of COVID-19. The March 18, 2020 earthquake damaged the entry stairs on the east and west sides of the City and County building. Work to repair the east stairs was recently completed, allowing the building to re-open to the public. People can now schedule in-person meetings with some departments. All city employees and visitors are required to wear masks in municipal buildings. — Pamela McCall

Southern Utah

Legislature votes for Dixie State name change

The Utah Legislature has voted to dump “Dixie” in favor of Utah Tech University. Dixie State University officials have been pushing for a name change because they say it negatively impacts students, and it also has ties to the confederacy. Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, teaches at DSU. During the House vote, he tearfully described a recent interview his son had where he had to explain the name of his alma mater. “The implications are real,” Last said. “Changing the name of the university is the right thing to do.” Still, most of the Washington County legislators voted against the change. It’s now up to Gov. Spencer Cox to sign. If he does, the change will go into effect next July. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Regional conference looks at wildfire smoke and public health

Much of the Mountain West spent this summer clouded in wildfire smoke and Friday, scientists from across our region will gather to workshop potential solutions to the increasing public health threat. This is the second year for the Rocky Mountain Regional Wildfire Smoke Symposium. It will gather not only researchers, but also public health workers along with local and state government agency employees who deal with wildfire smoke. The idea is to find the information gaps and to come up with some solutions. Researchers have been ringing the alarm on wildfire smoke for many years now. That includes problems breathing, and more serious issues for kids, pregnant people and the elderly. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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