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PM News Brief: Redistricting map signed, investigation into student’s death & money for a sustainable power grid

Illustration of the state of Utah with a pencil drawing curly lines through the state.
Renee Bright
/
KUER
Gov. Spencer Cox signed the new congressional district map into law Friday. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Friday evening, Nov. 12, 2021

State

Governor signs redistricting map

Gov. Spencer Cox signed the new congressional district map into law Friday. The map is controversial because it divides Salt Lake County into all four of the state’s districts. All of them are solidly Republican. Cox said earlier in the week he would sign the map because it passed with a supermajority. He said a veto would be futile. Cox also signed a bill to change the name of Dixie State University to Utah Tech University. That name change will go into effect July 1. — Sonja Hutson

COVID-19 Update

Utah Department of Health officials reported 3,842 new COVID-19 cases Friday. Because of the Veterans Day holiday, that is a two day total. The test positivity rate has held mostly steady over the last week at around 11.2%. Currently, there are 538 COVID patients in Utah hospitals. Twenty-two more people have died — 16 men and six women. Four were between 25 and 44 years old. — Caroline Ballard

Political power shifts for power plant

The Utah Legislature is taking back some of the broad authority it’s given to the group that owns the Intermountain coal plant in Delta. During this week’s special legislative session, Sen. Darren Owens, R-Fountain Green, introduced a bill that removes the Intermountain Power Agency’s ability to use eminent domain and avoid state audits. Given its pending transformation from burning coal to natural gas and hydrogen, as well as IPA’s recent deals with out-of-state coal and natural gas suppliers, Owens said it was time to transfer some of that broad authority back to the state. IPA spokesman John Ward said the new law could jeopardize funding that’s needed to shift to renewable energy. They’re set to begin raising $2 billion dollars in municipal bonds for the project in January. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Grant for sustainable Utah power grid

Rocky Mountain Power will receive federal funding to create a more sustainable power grid in Utah. The company announced this week it's getting a $6.42 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Company officials said they will use the money to integrate renewable resources and decrease carbon emissions. They'll also work to improve energy efficiency. Rocky Mountain is collaborating on this project with organizations like the University of Utah and Utah Transit Authority. The project will be completed by 2026. — Martha Harris

Editor’s Note: Rocky Mountain Power is a sponsor of KUER.

Northern Utah

Davis School District investigation into student’s death

The Davis School District said it will investigate the recent death by suicide of a 10-year-old student. Her mother said she had been bullied at school for being autistic and Black. She died last weekend, just a few weeks after the Department of Justice released a report detailing complaints of racial harassment in the district. In a statement, Davis officials said they would review how it handles bullying and other critical “incidents.” They said licensed therapists are available to anyone needing to talk through feelings of depression and isolation. — Jon Reed

If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at  at 1-800-273-8255.

Region/Nation

False information delays critical care

A study that appeared to show ivermectin could potentially treat COVID-19 was retracted in October when the authors realized they made serious errors. Ivermectin is an unproven treatment for the virus. But residents in the Mountain West continue to seek it out. In some places, it’s leading patients to delay proper medical treatment for a disease with a critical window of time for care. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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