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Situational awareness - January 23, 2018

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. 

It's day #2 of the 2018 Utah Legislature. Join Contributing Editor Bob Bernick and me for another Facebook Live chat this morning around 9 am. We'll run down what happened on the first day and what's on tap. Join us on our Facebook page sometime around 9 am.

Lawmakers want to tackle tax reform this year, but they're not sure how much they'll be able to get done. Speaker Greg Hughes declares war on opioid manufacturers. The government shutdown ends...for now.

Tick Tock:

If you have any story ideas, tips, suggestions or complaints, I'm always available at bschott@utahpolicy.com.

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Here's what's driving the day:

The 2018 Utah Legislature starts with a declaration of war on opioid manufacturers

House Speaker Greg Hughes kicked off his final session on the Hill by announcing the state would file a lawsuit against Big Pharma over the opioid crisis [Utah Policy]. However, that announcement caught Attorney General Sean Reyes a little off guard. He says his office has been exploring a lawsuit, but they're not quite sure how to proceed yet [Utah Policy].

Lawmakers are hoping to tackle tax reform this year. In reality, they might not be able to accomplish much

"Broaden the base and lower the rate" is the mantra you'll hear over and over again during the 2018 session, but will lawmakers be able to get there? House and Senate leadership seem to have some doubts that they'll be able to make major changes this year [Utah Policy].

Changes to taxes on the federal level should give Utah's coffers a windfall this year

Sen. Jerry Stephenson says the state should see an extra $25-80 million this year because of the tax overhaul passed by Congress at the end of 2017 [Utah Policy]. Here's a podcast of our conversation with Stephenson about the financial boost [Utah Policy].

Proposal would nix the state portion of the sales tax on food

Rep. Tim Quinn is proposing a bill to remove the state portion of the sales tax on food in exchange for a slight boost in the overall sales tax [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

National headlines:

On this day in history:

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Today At Utah Policy

Lawmakers want to tackle tax reform this year, but leaders are doubtful they'll be able to get much done

There's been a lot of "hype" over the last several weeks and months that the 2018 Legislature is going to pass major tax reform this session, says House Speaker Greg Hughes....

'Scene' on the Hill - Day #1

Here are some tidbits and quips our reporters saw or overheard during the first day of the 2018 Legislature....

Podcast: Sen. Jerry Stephenson discusses federal tax changes and Utah's budget

Sen. Jerry Stephenson, R-Layton, speaks with UtahPolicy.com Managing Editor Bryan Schott about how federal tax reform may affect Utah's 2018 budget....

Reyes says lawsuit in opioid crisis is coming, but not quite yet

GOP Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said Monday that Utah will be in the mix, either through a lawsuit or negotiated settlement, for some big bucks from Big Pharma, over the drug manufacturers flooding the market with opioid painkillers that have devastated some U...

Utah Legislature gets underway; Hughes says state will sue big pharma because of the opioid crisis

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, in his open remarks as the 2018 Legislature started Monday, said that GOP Attorney General Sean Reyes will, in some way, sue Big Pharma seeking damages for the opioid epidemic now harming the Beehive State and the nation....

Utah will likely see a multi-million dollar windfall from federal tax reform

No one on Utah's Capitol Hill is exactly sure how the federal tax overhaul passed by Congressional Republicans last year will affect Utah's budget, but it's starting to look like it may boost Utah's coffers a bit. ...

Proposal would kill sales tax on food while slightly raising sales tax

 There could be dozens of "tax reform" bills in the Utah Legislature, which started Monday....

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Policy News

Sutherland Institute sets event: Innovations for growing education choice
Sutherland Institute announced an upcoming event, "Innovations for Growing Education Choice."...

Utah state treasurer named senior vice president of the National Association of State Treasurers
The Office of the Utah State Treasurer announced that Treasurer David Damschen will serve as 2018 senior vice president of the National Association of State Treasurers....

GOED announces availability of tax credits for rural businesses
The Governor's Office of Economic Development announced the creation of a new online portal to simplify the application process for Enterprise Zone Tax Credits....

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Local Headlines

Salt Lake Tribune

Editorial: Congress will lose support if it doesn't legislate DACA soon

The British government is using Sundance to tell Utah it can still do business in the UK after Brexit

Utah lawmakers want to ban abortions sought by parents based on Down syndrome test

Gehrke: My perfect, absolutely definitive, no-way-you-could-argue-with-me list of Utah's top 25 political power players

Special interests gave Utah lawmakers $9 of every $10 in campaign funds they raised

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes declares war on drugmakers for fueling opioid-addiction epidemic as 2018 Legislature opens

Fight between Allosaurus and Utahraptor called off in Legislature

Utah chief justice praises collaboration between courts and legislators, which has led to significant judicial system reforms

The public wants better roads and transit, a research facility, denser housing and lots of open space at the Point of the Mountain. A state panel agreed

Deseret News

Op-ed: A common-sense conversation that could save lives

Editorial: Hawaii missile alert should remind states to update their systems and safeguards

Utah Supreme Court chief lauds justice reform, retired colleague in speech to Legislature

2018 Legislature kicks off with leaders talking about 'Big Pharma' suit, tax reform

Commission approves critical planning scenario for Point of the Mountain development

Utah lawmakers begin massive overhaul of public education statutes

Utah governor to ask lawmakers for $22.5 million in tourism funding

Senate amends protective order law in response to Sandy killings

Bill would prohibit abortion when motivation for it is Down syndrome

Grantsville mayor accused of fostering hostile work environment

Bill would increase penalty for killing police K-9

Vote on whether to recommend another Olympic bid postponed


Ogden's Peterson again proposes bill to distribute parolees around the state (Standard-Examiner)

As Gibson police probe continues, Utah DNR head remains supportive (Standard-Examiner)

National Headlines

Democrats give in; red-faced lawmakers from both parties agree to end shutdown (Washington Times)

Liberals livid after deal to end shutdown (Politico)

Immigrant advocates skewer Senate Democrats (Associated Press)

Vermont Makes History By Legalizing Marijuana, But Its Law Comes With A Catch (HuffPost)

Republicans hope to release 'jaw-dropping' memo on surveillance abuses (FOX News)

Sessions says 'we will leave no stone unturned' to find missing FBI text messages (Washington Post)

Where US abortion laws stand 45 years after Roe v. Wade (ABC News)

Trump imposes tariffs on solar panels and washing machines in first major trade action of 2018 (Washington Post)

Montana Governor Signs Order to Force Net Neutrality (New York Times)

Dow surges 142 points to record, erasing earlier losses as Senate reaches deal to end shutdown (CNBC)

U.S. economy to grow 2.7 percent in 2018, boosted by Trump tax overhaul (Washington Post)

Wise Words


"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." Leo Tolstoy

Lighter Side

News Awards

"Trump named The New York Times, ABC News, and CNN as the top three reporters of fake news. His top three reporters of real news were Fox News, his Magic 8-ball, and Snapple caps." Jimmy Fallon

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