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AM News Brief: Wild horse roundups, Utahns at the Winter Olympics & the Uinta Basin Railway

photo of horses
Nate Hegyi
/
KUER

Thursday morning, Jan. 27, 2022

State

Republican-supported income tax cut clears its first legislative hurdle

Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, has declared 2022 the “year of the tax cut.” That prophecy is one step closer to reality. Lawmakers debated Senate Bill 59 Wednesday, which would cut Utah’s flat income tax rate from 4.95% to 4.85%. During public comment for the bill, some people said they wanted to see an even larger tax cut. Others said there were better ways to help Utahns, like by putting more funding toward social services. Republican leaders in the Senate have signed on as co-sponsors for the bill, which puts the bill in a strong position as it moves through the Legislature. Read the full story.Emily Means

Utah bill could restrict “no-knock” warrants

A Utah legislative committee unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that adds new restrictions on police when they forcibly enter people’s homes. The legislation, H.B. 124, bans “no-knock” warrants for investigating misdemeanor charges. It also requires law enforcement officers to knock and demand entry more than once before entering if they have a “knock and announce” warrant. In either case, officers would have to wear clothing that easily identifies them as police, including a badge and a piece of clothing with a “distinguishing label.” The legislation also states that it’s preferable for law enforcement to carry out these warrants before 10 p.m. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Utah’s measures to eliminate tobacco receive mixed marks

The American Lung Association gave Utah mixed grades on its annual “State of Tobacco Control” report card. It looks at what lawmakers are doing to eliminate tobacco use. Utah got an A for its funding of tobacco prevention programs and for smoke free workplace laws, but the Association said the state is failing to reduce tobacco use through taxes on products. It also got poor marks for allowing the sale of flavored tobacco. The advocacy group says tobacco is the country’s leading cause of preventable death — more than 1,300 people die in Utah each year from tobacco use. — Elaine Clark

Over 70 Utah athletes are heading to Beijing Olympics

This year, 75 athletes with ties to Utah are headed to the Beijing Winter Olympics, representing over one third of Team USA’s Beijing delegation. That’s according to a release issued by the Utah Sports Commission and Utah Olympic Legacy Wednesday. The number includes Olympians who were born in Utah, live and train full-time in Utah or were educated in the state. The athletes will compete in 16 different events, including aerials, alpine skiing, snowboarding and speed skating. The Winter Olympics begin on Feb. 2. — Leah Treidler

Northern Utah

Environmentalists urge Biden to block Utah oil railway

More than 100 environmental groups representing over 1 million people are pleading with President Joe Biden to block the Uinta Basin Railway. The railway would be over 80 miles long and would transport oil through the Uinta Basin. It would also more than quadruple fossil fuel production in the area. The groups sent a letter to the US agricultural secretary Wednesday. In it, the environmentalists said the railway would cause irreversible environmental damage. It would also increase the risk of wildfires and oil spills and exacerbate pollution in an area that already violates federal pollution standards. They added that it undermines Biden’s goals to address the climate crisis and asked Biden to block the railway before construction begins. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

US plans record number of wild horse roundups this year

The Bureau of Land Management plans to permanently remove at least 19,000 horses and burros this year from public lands. That’s more than ever before in a single year and about 70% more than the previous high a year ago. The plan is drawing sharp criticism from mustang advocates who hoped the Biden administration would curtail the annual roundups. Critics say it’s a continuation of a decades-old policy that kowtows to ranchers who don’t want horses competing with their livestock for limited forage on public lands. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the roundups are an important part of the process of bringing the horse herds into balance with the range. — Associated Press

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