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PM News Brief: Utah’s population growth, Cytozyme Laboratories fine & food insecurity for seniors

 The city of St. George, seen from above. A grid of rooftops, treetops stretch out towards red cliffs in the distance.
David Fuchs
/
KUER
From July 2020 to July of this year, Utah added nearly 60,000 people to its population. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Dec 8, 2021

State

Utah legislative committee directs audit of state elections system 

A Utah legislative committee is directing legislative auditors to look into the integrity of the state’s election systems. House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, requested the audit. He said he doesn’t know what critics are afraid of. Schultz said he hopes the audit comes back clean and that it restores confidence in the state’s elections. Republican Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, who oversees elections, said she welcomes the inquiry. She said she believes Schultz has good intentions but worries the audit feeds into the false narrative that there are widespread issues. Read the full story. Sonja Hutson

Utah adds nearly 60,000 people in 2021

From July 2020 to July of this year, Utah added nearly 60,000 people to its population. That’s according to estimates released Wednesday by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. It puts the total number of Utahns at a little more than 3.3 million people. The state’s growth rate had been falling since 2017. It grew in 2021 — even as birth rates have fallen. This year’s population increase was fueled mostly by migration. As for the fastest growing counties, Iron takes the top spot followed by Tooele and Washington. Garfield County was the only one in the state to have a population loss. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Cytozyme Laboratories ordered to pay $2 million for illegal pollution

Cytozyme Laboratories pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of unlawful discharge of pollutants. The manufacturing company is headquartered in Salt Lake City. They focus on new technologies to help crops produce higher and better quality yields. In a press release, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency said the company’s South Salt Lake facility illegally released pollutants into the local sewer system for years. As part of the guilty plea, the laboratory must pay a $2 million fine within the next 30 days. Salt Lake County’s district attorney said this is one of the largest criminal fines a corporation has faced in Utah history for polluting. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Seniors in the Mountain West facing high food insecurity rates

Seniors in several Mountain West states face some of the highest food insecurity rates in the nation. A new study shows people age 60 and older in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado have big barriers to accessing nutritious food. Researcher Craig Gundersen directs a hunger and poverty initiative at Baylor University. He said one solution is getting more seniors on SNAP benefits, the program formally known as food stamps. The federal government recently increased SNAP benefits by 20% and Gundersen is hopeful that with outreach this could make a dent. Seniors most impacted include racial and ethnic minorities, people on low incomes, renters and younger seniors ages 60 to 69. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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