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AM News Brief: New Utah Democratic chair, tribal housing funds & local shopping initiative

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A new initiative called Choose SLC is encouraging people to shop local this holiday season. The Winter Market is set to be indoors for the rest of the year downtown at the Gateway. This story and more in Monday morning's news brief.

Monday morning, Nov. 15, 2021

State

Utah Democrats elect new chair

The Utah Democratic Party has a new chair. Diane Lewis beat out five candidates in a vote at the party’s central committee meeting on Saturday. She became the acting chair earlier this fall after former chair Jeff Merchant left his position because of personal health reasons. Outside of politics, Lewis was a union representative. Her campaign platform focused on helping county parties, strengthening Democrats' relationship with unions and focusing on candidate recruitment year-round. — Sonja Hutson

Vaccine mandate on hold

A panel of federal judges has issued a hold on President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing mandate. The ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed by Utah and four other Republican states. The mandate requires businesses with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly. — Sonja Hutson

Northern/Central Utah

$50 million in infrastructure bill for Utah water project

A critical Utah water project will get millions from the congressional infrastructure spending bill, and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, is receiving thanks from some of the state’s local officials and water managers. He met with them in Spanish Fork Friday afternoon at the site of one segment of the Central Utah Project, which is a decades-long plan that pipes Colorado River water to the Wasatch Front. He said the $50 million in funding for it was almost left out of the infrastructure bill. Officials for the project said the money designated for the Central Utah Project will help cut its timeline in half. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery

‘Choose SLC’

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and community organizations have launched an initiative called Choose SLC to encourage people to shop local this holiday season. The initiative includes a winter farmers market, and it launched this weekend at Pioneer Park. The Winter Market is set to be indoors for the rest of the year downtown at the Gateway. The incentive program also includes discounts and giveaways at local businesses. — Ivana Martinez

Region/Nation

Tribal housing funds

The American Rescue Plan provided nearly $2 billion in federal support for tribal governments. Tribes in Nevada and New Mexico are getting some of that money to build new housing and rehab existing units. Advocates say federal and state officials have neglected Native communities for decades, which has led to a crippling housing shortage and mass homelessness. They say the government should focus on improving communication with Indigenous people all the time, not just during a crisis. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

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