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PM News Brief: Ranking Utah’s highways, COVID booster eligibility & more EPA grant money

Arterial City Roads
Rui Mesquita Cordeiro
/
iStockphoto
A national report released Thursday ranked Utah's highways 6th in the nation. That’s up from 17th last year. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, Nov. 18, 2021

State

Gov. Spencer Cox announces major tax shakeup 

Utah’s tax break system is likely going to get a big shakeup next year. Gov. Spencer Cox said he’s been working with top lawmakers on a series of bills that would be the biggest change to the state’s main incentive program in 20 years. The changes will focus the program on helping Utah-based businesses expand, as well targeting certain regions with higher unemployment and certain industries. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson 

National report ranks Utah highways 6th in the nation 

A national report released Thursday ranked Utah's highways 6th in the nation. That’s up from 17th last year. The study comes from the Reason Foundation — a libertarian think tank based in Los Angeles. The group looked at things like pavement conditions, maintenance costs and how structurally sound bridges are. Utah was ranked as the best state for urban area congestion. But its lowest is rural fatalities — it came in at number 38. The foundation said in order to improve, Utah should focus on slightly less spending and having fewer highway deaths. — Martha Harris 

COVID vaccine booster eligibility open to all Utah adults

Starting Friday, all Utahns 18 and older will be eligible for a COVID vaccine booster shot. Gov. Spencer Cox made the announcement Thursday. Cox said current CDC guidelines on getting a booster shot are confusing. So, he wants to make it easier for everyone as we head into the holiday season. State health officials reported nearly 1,800 new COVID cases Thursday. And for the third day in a row, officials said 13 more people have died from the virus. Currently, nearly 97% of all ICU beds in Utah are occupied. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Utah receives federal grant to replace diesel-fueled vehicles  

The Utah Department of Environmental quality is set to receive more than $2 million to replace old, diesel-fueled vehicles. The money is a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It’s part of the Diesel Emission Reduction program. Forty-one haulers and trucks along the Wasatch Front will be replaced with cleaner and current model year ones. The vehicles are used in parts of Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele and Utah counties. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

BLM headquarter move’s impact on Black and Asian employees

A new federal report shows the Bureau of Land Management disproportionately lost Black and Asian-American employees when the Trump administration moved its headquarters to Colorado. The move to Grand Junction was announced in the summer of 2019. Republicans argued the BLM needed to be closer to the lands it manages out West. But the move was controversial and led to a lot of experienced staff quitting the agency. Now a Government Accountability Office report shows that about half of all Black and Asian staff working at the headquarters left. For instance, the number of Black employees dropped from 116 to 55 by the time relocation was complete. At the same time, the number of white employees there increased. The Biden administration plans to move the headquarters back to D.C. in the coming months. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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