POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Bill would continue funding Utah Murdered and Missing Indigenous Relatives Task Force

Feb 19, 2024, 2:00 PM | Updated: 2:29 pm

Tayler Gutierrez, of Sandy, performs the Jingle Dress dance during an event to raise awareness for ...

FILE: Tayler Gutierrez, of Sandy, performs the Jingle Dress dance during an event to raise awareness for bill that created the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Task Force in 2020. Now, a lawmakers is lobbying to extend the program's funding. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

(Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY— The Utah Murdered and Missing Indigenous Relatives Task Force is facing a 2024 sunset or expiration date.

Utah House Minority Leader Angela Romero (D-Salt Lake City) is sponsoring a bill that would extend the life of the Utah Murdered and Missing Indigenous Relatives Task Force until late 2029.

Lawmakers created the bill in 2020. Since then, they’ve been working to build relationships with tribal leaders. They’ve also been trying to figure out why Utah’s ingenious people are disproportionately impacted by violent crime.

Utah’s record for murdered and missing Indigenous population

According to a report from the task force, Indigenous people account for 1.5% of Utah’s population. However Indigenous people make up over 5% of all murder victims in the state.

A national report also found that Salt Lake City has the eighth most cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

Dustin Jansen, the director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, is pleased the bill got unanimous support from the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee on Friday.

“It gives us time to figure out why these things are happening, and come up with ways to prevent it from happening again,” Jansen said. “Having more time … will only help our work in the future.”

The bill needs to clear the House and Senate and get the governor’s signature before the end of the Utah General Legislative Session on March 1 to become law.

Keep reading:

Missing and murdered Indigenous women cases getting new attention

Great Salt Lake rally brings Native and youth voices to Utah’s Capitol Hill

U of U to offer scholarships to Indigenous students in Utah

 

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Bill would continue funding Utah Murdered and Missing Indigenous Relatives Task Force