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Utah Legislature renews flooding state of emergency

Governor Cox speaking at a podium in his monthly press conference
PBS Utah
Utah Office of the Governor
Gov. Cox says his relationship with the legislature is better than ever.

The Utah Legislature met Wednesday in a special session where they extended Utah’s flooding state of emergency into August and reallocated nearly $40 million in funding to address flooding emergenciesacross the state.

Gov. Cox said the funding is important to prepare for potential disasters.

“This will help ensure we have the resources in place to respond quickly to the flooding that we are seeing throughout the state. We know that temperatures are rising and the next week or two will test some of our infrastructure. In addition to flooding, we’re concerned about mudslides and landslides,” Cox said.

He said while the state is concerned about these potential disasters, the record snowpack has had a positive impact on our reservoirs.

“The upside from our record snowpack is that our reservoirs and other large bodies of water, including the Great Salt Lake, are filling up rapidly. The Great Salt Lake has come up four and a half feet since hitting a record low in November and we think it could come up another one to three feet this year,” he said.

In the special session, the Utah Senate also approved Brian Steed’s appointmentas the first Great Salt Lake Commissioner. Cox said Steed has the full support of legislative leadership behind him.

“This position is really unprecedented. We’ve never had a position like this, and to make sure this would not just be a figurehead position, we actually gave this position a lot of authority, not just to work with but to really bring all my cabinet members together, as well as the water managers across the state so that everyone is represented at the table,” Cox said.

Cox said their unanimous approval of the state of emergency shows the Legislature’s positive relationship with Utah’s executive branch.

“There’s a huge responsibility that comes any time an executive is exercising legislative power. It should be very rare and it should only be used in true emergencies and this is a true emergency. Anyone that lives along our waterways would tell you,” Cox said.

Cox said more funds for emergency flooding response may be made available after the new fiscal year starts in July.

Anna grew up begging her mom to play music instead of public radio over the car stereo on the way to school. Now, she loves radio and the power of storytelling through sound. While she is happy to report on anything from dance concerts to laughter practice, her main focus at UPR is political reporting. She is studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and wants to work in political communication after she graduates. In her free time, she spends time with her rescue dog Quigley and enjoys rock climbing.