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AM News Brief: Hunger in higher education, ending Montana grizzly protection & Utah Olympics committee heading to Beijing

Grizzly_bear_glacier_national_park_3.jpg
National Parks Service
/
Wikimedia Commons
Montana officials are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lift threatened species protections for grizzly bears in the northern part of the state. This story and more in Tuesday morning's news brief.

Tuesday morning, Dec 7, 2021

State

New rule for choosing school library books

The Utah State Board of Education said Friday they will move “quickly but carefully” to issue a new rule on how school libraries choose and review content. The board’s law and licensing committee is responding to calls from parents to remove books from school libraries they say contain inappropriate and pornographic images or descriptions. But others worry the efforts could lead to censorship, particularly of books from or about diverse perspectives. Board members were briefed on best practices in library selection and review policies, noting not all districts have them. The new board rule would set minimum standards that all schools would have to adopt, specifying the legal considerations for First Amendment protections and defining inappropriate material. Read the full story.John Reed

Utahns have received millions in pandemic rental assistance

Since March 2021, Utah has distributed $100 million in pandemic-related rental assistance. State officials said the money has been paid to over 21,000 applicants, with most requests helping cover more than one month of rent and other costs. The federal government gave Utah $215 million for its Emergency Rental Assistance program and, including administrative funds, the state has spent over half of the funds. Applications are still open to Utahns who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. The money can be used for rent, security deposits, utilities and other fees. People can apply online at rentrelief.utah.gov. — Leah Treidler

Northern Utah

Utah Olympics committee headed to Beijing

The committee looking to bring the Winter Olympics back to Salt Lake City met with the International Olympic Committee Monday. The virtual meeting was held the same day the U.S. announced a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing winter game. Fraser Bullock, President and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, said despite the boycott, a Salt Lake delegation will still be traveling to Beijing. He added it will focus solely on securing the winter games for Utah. The Salt Lake committee is vying to hold the games in either 2030 or 2034, but it's yet to be determined which year that will be. — Pamela McCall

Region/Nation

Hunger undermines college students’ success

Food insecurity has been a problem in higher education for years, especially for students of color, people in community college and student parents. That’s often because rising rents take up a greater share of students' budgets. A recent survey by the Hope Center at Temple University found more than a third had trouble getting enough to eat last year and, as a result, overall enrollment declined. In general, the survey data from Western states tracked national trends. Researchers said federal aid could help. Through the American Rescue Plan, Congress has approved about $40 billion for institutions and students. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

Montana officials look to end protections for grizzly bears

Montana officials are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lift threatened species protections for grizzly bears in the northern part of the state. The request, announced Monday, comes after bear populations have grown in recent years and run-ins between humans and grizzlies have increased. That includes attacks on livestock and periodic maulings of humans. Gov. Greg Gianforte said removing federal protections would give state wildlife officials more flexibility to deal with conflict bears. Northwest Montana has the largest concentration of grizzlies in the Lower 48 states, with more than 1,000 bears across an area that includes Glacier National Park. Wildlife advocates said giving the state more control could lead to overhunting. — Associated Press

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