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PM News Brief: BYU Title IX complaint dismissed, tax cuts approved & drought update

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The federal government dismissed a Title IX complaint against Brigham Young University this week. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022

State

Utah’s clean slate law takes effect 

Utahns with old or minor criminal records can have them cleared under a new law that went into effect Thursday. With the Clean Slate law in effect, certain people’s criminal records will be automatically expunged if they remain crime free for five to seven years. Already, nearly half a million Utahns qualify. Ron Gordon, the state court administrator, said until now, clearing a record could be costly and complicated. State officials said about 25% of Utahns have some type of record. The new law would not clear felonies, domestic violence, sex-related or DUI offenses. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

$200 million worth of tax cuts approved by Utah Legislature

The Utah Legislature passed a nearly $200 million tax cut Thursday. The bill started in the Senate as a cut to Utah’s flat income tax rate. Then, the House put in additional measures for low-income people — like earned income tax credits and increased credits on social security income. Lawmakers had a final vote in the Senate to approve the changes. It passed unanimously without debate. The bill now heads to the governor for approval. — Emily Means

Utah’s drought situations continues up and down trend

The roller coaster ride continues. That’s how Utah water officials are describing the state’s ongoing drought. December brought much needed snow to the Beehive State, but after a dry January, things have been pretty stagnant. Utah still has 54 days until the snowpack typically peaks. Officials said the next two months will determine what kind of spring runoff we have. Fortunately, soil moisture levels are 9% above median. That is a critical measure for runoff accumulation. Still, about 94% of the state is experiencing severe drought conditions. — Ross Terrell 

Northern Utah

BYU sees Title IX complaint dismissed 

The federal government dismissed a Title IX complaint against Brigham Young University this week. The U.S. Department of Education cited BYU’s religious exemption on certain issues. The complaint was filed in March 2020 and alleged discrimination related to students involved in same-sex romantic relationships. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doctrine does not allow same-sex romantic behavior or marriage. In a statement, the BYU president said they “simultaneously stand firm” in their religious beliefs and “love and respect each member of the campus community.” — Lexi Peery

Region/Nation

More protections coming for cleaning up old mine sites 

Nonprofits, businesses and local governments may have better protections if they want to clean up old mining sites on public lands. A bipartisan group of Senators from Western states have proposed new legislation that would limit liability in these kinds of clean up efforts. John Gale is conservation director for the advocacy group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. He said liability concerns have blocked cleanup in the past, and that's having a negative impact on environmental health. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

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