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AM News Brief: Mask mandate conflict, potential ski patroller strike & hydropower problem

Two ski patrollers in red jackets march waste deep in snow uphill.
Courtesy Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association
/
via Instagram
Members of the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if Vail Resorts doesn’t meet their demands for a higher wage. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Tuesday morning, Jan. 11, 2022

State

Utah Democratic lawmaker looking to pass “yes means yes” consent bill

Utah Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, is trying again to make it easier to prosecute sexual assault cases. Just 7% of cases with sexual assault kit evidence resulted in successful prosecution in Salt Lake County from 2012-2017, according to a study by Dr. Julie Valentine, an associate professor of nursing at Brigham Young University. Romero is sponsoring a bill that would create a separate offense for engaging in sexual activity with someone without getting affirmative consent through a verbal agreement or actions. Essentially, under this model, consent isn’t just the absence of a “no” — it’s the presence of a “yes.” The offense would be a third-degree felony — a lower penalty than rape, which is a first-degree felony. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Governor contests the scope of Salt Lake County’s mask mandate

Gov. Spencer Cox is resisting Salt Lake County’s mask mandate. In a statement Monday, he said the order does not apply to state buildings because county officials don’t have that authority. Mayor Jenny Wilson pushed back in a press release Monday. She said Cox doesn’t have the authority to disregard the mask order, even in state buildings. She wrote that his statement shows not only a “blatant disregard for the law,” but it also threatens the health of the community. In another press release, Utah House Majority Leader Mike Schultz called on Salt Lake County leaders to reconsider the order and said mandates create “unnecessary divisiveness that is tearing our communities and our state apart.” The statements come as omicron rages through the state — 3,122 new cases in Salt Lake County on Sunday alone. — Leah Treidler

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Park City ski patrollers approve a potential strike

Members of the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if Vail Resorts doesn’t meet their demands for a higher wage. Nearly all members voted “yes” on a secret ballot this weekend. The union has been in negotiations with Vail Resorts since August 2020. The company offered to increase the starting wage to $15/hour — up from $13.25 — but union organizers said they’re holding out for at least $2 more. Organizers said they deserve better pay given the high risk of the job and years of necessary training. They wrote on social media that the vote does not mean a strike is inevitable — but it shows union members are prepared for a work stoppage if the company doesn’t meet their demands. Union negotiators met with the company last night for the 50th time — but the union has not yet provided any updates. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

U.S. officials to meet about the West’s hydropower issue

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will meet at noon on Tuesday to discuss solutions to what could be a huge hydropower problem. Experts are warning that if current drought trends continue in the Mountain West region, the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell may stop producing electricity by this summer. That could affect millions of westerners. The Senate committee will hear testimony from experts and consider steps like expanding hydropower to other dams. — Dave Rosenthal, Mountain West News Bureau

Most low-income households aren’t taking advantage of internet discount program

A recent report showed only a fraction of low-income households in the Mountain West region are taking advantage of an internet incentive program launched by the Biden administration last year. The program gives eligible households a monthly $50 discount on their internet bill, and those on tribal lands receive a $75 monthly discount. The report’s authors blame a lack of advertising and messaging for the low adoption rate. In Utah, just 7.55% of eligible households are enrolled. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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