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Situational awareness - December 20, 2017

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City.

Utahns are solidly behind a plan to legalize medical marijuana. Congressional Republicans near the finish line with their tax plan. Congress races to fund the government before it runs out of money on Friday.

Tick tock:

An overwhelming number of Utahns support legalizing medical marijuana

73% of Utahns say they are in favor of a proposed ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. That number includes 61% of "very active" Mormons [Utah Policy].

Utah ranked #2 on list of "best managed" states

Fiscal responsibility in government pays off. The financial blog 24/7 Wall Street says Utah is the #2 "best managed" state, behind Minnesota. Low unemployment and paying financial obligations factored into their rankings [Utah Policy].

Republican tax overhaul nears the finish line

The House passed the tax package on Tuesday but will have to take another crack at it on Wednesday. The Senate Parliamentarian rejected three provisions in the bill that violated the rules. The Senate removed them, so the House will have to vote again before sending the bill to President Trump's desk. All of Utah's members of Congress voted in favor of the package [New York Times].

Here's how Republicans were able to come together in just two months to pass the most sweeping changes to the tax code in decades [New York Times].

The tax plan is a political gamble for Republicans. They passed big tax cuts without offsetting those with spending cuts, hoping that the plan will lead to big growth in the economy [Associated Press].

How is it playing at home? A poll shows just 24% of Americans think the tax plan is a good idea [NBC News]. Another survey shows just 27% of Americans think the GOP made a good faith effort to include Democrats in the process [CNN].

Many of the provisions in the tax plan go into effect at the beginning of 2018, which has companies scrambling to figure out how to figure out the new withholding rules for employees [Politico].

Republicans have until Friday to fund the government to avoid a shutdown

Republicans wanted to pass a bill to fund the Pentagon for the rest of the fiscal year, but now they will focus on a stopgap measure to fund the government through January 19th. The plan is to pick up the issue after lawmakers return to Washington after the holiday break [Politico].

One of the issues holding up efforts to pass a bill before the government runs out of money on Friday is stopgap funding for Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised Maine Sen. Susan Collins that funding would be in a must-pass year-end spending bill if she supported the tax overhaul. But, House Republicans aren't too keen on propping up Obamacare [Politico].

Utah Sen. Mike Lee is threatening to vote against a funding package if it includes a long-term extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [Tribune].

One vote can make all the difference

Democrats forged a tie in the Virginia House of Delegates following this year's election, and it all came down to one vote margin in a recount. Democrat Shelly Simonds beat Republican incumbent David Yancey by a single vote, which means the two parties will have an even 50-50 split in next year's legislative session [Politico].

DACA deal looks possible for January

President Donald Trump and GOP Senators are working on a major immigration bill that could come together in January. White House officials say they're planning on introducing a number of border security measures along with protections for Dreamers [Politico].

Pumping the breaks on Trump's judicial nominees

Three of President Trump's picks for the federal bench have had their nominations pulled or withdrawn in the last week, which is highlighting a poor vetting process for those nominees. Senators are threatening to put more scrutiny on the selections in the future [Washington Post].

Quick links

On this day in history

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Today At Utah Policy

Utahns overwhelmingly support legalizing medical marijuana, including strong support among Mormons

Three-out-of-four Utahns favor legalizing medical marijuana, a new UtahPolicy.com poll finds....

Utah ranked #2 'Best-managed state'

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The real reason The Rock says he's running for president (Hint: it's not because he's running for president)

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Policy News

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert becomes CSG 2018 national president
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will lead The Council of State Governments as the 2018 national president. The CSG Executive Committee confirmed his role on Saturday, Dec. 16 during the CSG 2017 National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. ...

Question and answer with Davis County officials
The League of Women Voters of Davis County will be hosting a Q&A with Davis County Officials....

Office of the State Auditor Completes Audit of the State of Utah's 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
The State of Utah's Division of Finance recently completed its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for fiscal year 2017. ...

Local Headlines

Salt Lake Tribune

Editorial: Make the Salt Lake great again

Utah's economy continues to boom, but worker shortages, poor air quality and federal policies are risks

Utah's Sen. Hatch helps usher in 'a doggone good bill' to rewrite the tax code

After bad blood over how 3rd district election was handled, Utah lawmakers intend to set rules for special congressional elections

Here's the provision that could keep Utah's Sen. Mike Lee from voting to stop a government shutdown this week

Deseret News

Tanner Ainge: Utah County deserves better leadership - time to oust Graves

Op-ed: Utah is fortunate to have Sen. Hatch

Feds propose modifications to prairie dog management in Utah

Utah U.S. House members vote for tax bill; senators expected to follow suit

Petition demanding Commissioner Graves resign delivered to Utah County

Despite political clashing, Salt Lake County Council passes 2018 budget

Rio Tinto 'realignment' may impact Utah employees

More pushback over Utah's .05% DUI threshold


Hundreds sign petition asking Greg Graves to resign (Daily Herald)

Utah County passes $86 million budget, will explore tax increase next year (Daily Herald)

Weber County Commissioner Gibson's backers speak out after news of probe (Standard-Examiner)

UTA passes budget, despite objection from N.O. Mayor Brent Taylor (Standard-Examiner)

National Headlines

How McConnell Succeeded on Tax Cuts After Failing on Health Care (Bloomberg)

Why Mueller's Seizure of Transition Emails Likely Violated the Law (Law & Crime)

Collins Says News Coverage of Her Tax Vote 'Unbelievably Sexist' (Bloomberg)

Facebook is giving the US government more and more data (Quartz)

With count complete, feds can start eliminating billions of dollars in wasted property (Washington Times)

Hillary Clinton Favorable Rating at New Low (Gallup)

These 55 stocks have at least doubled since Trump was elected (MarketWatch)

Russia, China Object to New 'America First' Security Doctrine (New York Times)

Aliens, flying discs and sightings -- oh my! A short history of UFOs in America (CNN)

Ta-Nehisi Coates Deletes Twitter Account Amid Feud With Cornel West (New York Times)

Paul Ryan refutes rumors of early retirement from House (The Hill)

Wise Words


"Laughter is the closest distance between two people." Victor Borge

Lighter Side


"After chief of staff John Kelly fired Omarosa, she apparently tried to barge into Trump's private residence. Secret Service agents stopped her, while another said, "Eh, I want to see how this plays out. Get your phone. Get your phone out." Jimmy Fallon

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