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Situational awareness - January 23, 2019

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City.

Wednesday's news at a glance: A proposed bill would block judges from changing a person's sex on their birth certificate. The Senate will vote on two measures to end the government shutdown. President Donald Trump's approval rating tanks.

Department of corrections: Yesterday I erroneously said Jeff Daniels is playing Atticus Finch in the new Broadway play To Kill a Mockingbird. Several readers wrote in to point out that Jeff Bridges is playing Finch. I should know better since I took the time to snap this photo during my trip:

20190123 Mockingbird


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The UtahPolicy.com daily newsletter gets you up to speed on the top local and national news about politics and public policy. Our news is curated by Managing Editor Bryan Schott, along with help from Golden Webb. ((Click here to subscribe))


Today is the 23rd day of the year. There are 342 days remaining in 2019.

3 days until Salt Lake County Democrats elect a new County Mayor (1/26/2019)

5 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)

50 days until the final day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (3/14/2019)

101 days to the Utah State Republican Party Organizing Convention (5/4/2019)

131 days until the municipal election filing period opens (6/3/2019)

135 days until the municipal election filing period ends (6/7/2019)

202 days to the 2019 Utah primary elections (8/13/2019)

286 days to the 2019 municipal elections (11/5/2019)

377 days to the 2020 Iowa Caucuses (2/3/2020)

645 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Today At Utah Policy

images/1000px_Article_Photos/Transgender_flag.jpgBill bars transgender Utahns from legally changing their sex on birth certificates

 A bill for the 2019 Legislature has been filed that would stop transgender Utahns from legally changing their birth sex....
images/1000px_Article_Photos/20190122_Romney_podcast.jpgPodcast: Sen. Mitt Romney says he doesn't see Republicans breaking with Trump to end shutdown

Sen. Mitt Romney says he doesn't know when or how the partial government shutdown will end, and he's not sure what will break the budget impasse that is now more than 30 days old....
Jeff Burningham creates gubernatorial campaign committee

Jeff Burningham, a prominent Provo business leader, will begin exploring a run for Governor of Utah in 2020 and has created a campaign committee for that purpose.  ...
images/1000px_Logos/Building_Utah_Logo.jpg2019 legislative preview on housing affordability

 Next week, the Utah Legislature will convene for their annual legislative session and plans to address the state's emerging housing affordability challenge are beginning to take shape....
images/Resized_Logos/Utah_Foundation_Logo_01.jpgUtah Foundation study provides background on tax debate

 Governor Gary Herbert's recent proposal for tax modernization grows out of long-standing concern over the role of sales tax in funding state government....
images/1000px_Article_Photos/Reader_Survey.jpgGive us your feedback. Take our reader survey

We want to hear from you....
images/1000px_Capitol_Photos/Utah_Capitol_06.jpgMore Utahns say they oppose legislators making changes to voter-approved Medicaid expansion

A new UtahPolicy.com poll shows Utahns want to keep Prop. 3, Medicaid expansion, even as GOP lawmakers are talking about junking it for a scaled-back alternative....
images/1000px_Capitol_Photos/Utah_Capitol_05.jpgBill aims to remove 'gamesmanship' from citizen initiative process

 It's been clear for some time that with three citizen initiatives making the 2018 ballot, and with Count My Vote being knocked off the ballot by a well-organized opposition group, some bills dealing with Utah's citizen initiative process would be filed in the 2019 Legi...
images/Resized_Mugshots/Jenny_Wilson_02.jpgPodcast: A conversation with Salt Lake County Mayor candidate Jenny Wilson

 On Saturday, Salt Lake County Democrats will choose a replacement for Ben McAdams who resigned earlier this month to take his seat in Congress....
images/Resized_Mugshots/Derek_Monson_01.jpegGuest opinion: Amend Medicaid expansion, but we should do so much more

In the runup to the 2019 legislative session, legislative leaders are discussing potential amendments to the Medicaid expansion plan enacted by Proposition 3. As a matter of public policy, they are right to do so, despite the tricky politics of amending a program approved by...

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Deseret News

Jay Evensen: Should the people be allowed to overturn city planning decisions?

Ex-Utah League of Cities and Towns boss charged with theft, misusing public money

Salt Lake City mayor makes special delivery to local TSA workers

Immigrant from Argentina, local entrepreneur, picked to fill Salt Lake City's vacant council seat

Shutdown, border wall dominate Sen. Mitt Romney's first town hall

Utah Attorney General says human trafficking remains problem

Salt Lake Tribune

Could you afford to buy in your own neighborhood today? For many homeowners on the Wasatch Front, the answer would be no.

Boomerang bills: Proposals that are popular with the public but nonstarters on Utah's Capitol Hill just keep coming back

A Utah lawmaker wants to lower the penalty for some crimes by one day to help immigrants avoid deportation

Former Utah League of Cities and Towns chief charged with 7 felonies for theft, misuse of funds

Founder of $2 billion real estate company considers Republican run for Utah governor

A Utah lawmaker wants to block people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates. LGBT groups are calling it 'an egregious attack.'

Federal airport employees working without pay at least get pizza from Salt Lake City mayor

New Salt Lake District 4 Councilwoman, a self-described '30-something Hispanic,' aims to represent the city's increasingly diverse population

In the first town hall of his term, Romney blames federal leaders for using people 'as pawns' in government shutdown


'Death with dignity' advocates persist in Utah despite heavy opposition (Standard-Examiner)

Romney focuses on shutdown, border at town hall meeting in Farmington (Standard-Examiner)


Shutdown day #33

The Senate will vote on two competing bills to reopen the government. Both measures are expected to fail, but there's hope the votes will start negotiations to end the shutdown - https://nyti.ms/2FFFthq

A possible plan to end the shutdown. Republican senators and the White House are discussing a plan to give a path to green cards for the 700,000 current DACA recipients in exchange for funding for President Donald Trump's border wall - http://bit.ly/2FIoGub

State of the Union. The White House is still planning to hold President Trump's address in the House chamber next Tuesday despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi's letter asking to delay the event. Trump administration officials are daring Pelosi to block the speech. President Trump's allies are urging him to hold the address at a location outside of Washington to "troll" Pelosi - https://politi.co/2FHJ26U

Shutdown backlash. A new poll finds independent voters are increasingly blaming President Trump for the shutdown. 46 percent of independent voters said Trump and Republicans in Congress are responsible for the impasse, which is a jump of 7 points since last month - http://bit.ly/2FJ76pR

Shutdown hurting the FBI. A new report says the partial government shutdown is hampering FBI investigations into terrorism, drug traffickers and child sexual predators - https://nbcnews.to/2FHJAcY

Tax refunds could be delayed. Hundreds of IRS employees are skipping work because of financial hardship. Officials expect that number to surge, which may delay tax refunds - https://wapo.st/2FJKaXt

The TSA is starting to break under the strain of the shutdown. The agency is asking for 250 employees to move from their home airports to those struggling with low staffing due to the shutdown - https://cnn.it/2FJyQL9

Kerry vs. Trump. Former Secretary of State John Kerry had a blunt message for President Donald Trump, "resign." Kerry said Trump "doesn't take any of this seriously" and he doubted Trump had the "ability" to have deep conversations - https://wapo.st/2FKB50B

Transgender military ban upheld. The Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump's ban on most transgender people from serving in the military to go into effect while lower courts hear further arguments on the issue - https://cnn.it/2FHHxWk

Urgency on 2020 Census. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to decide quickly whether a question about citizenship can be placed on the 2020 Census. Critics say the question is designed to cut down the response rate, which would benefit Republicans in the next round of redistricting - https://wapo.st/2FFHgmE

2nd Amendment. The Supreme Court will review a New York City gun law that limits residents from transporting their guns outside of their homes. It's the first Second Amendment case the high court has taken up since 2010 - https://nyti.ms/2FIx6Su

A SCOTUS loss for Trump. The Supreme Court declined to take action on the Trump administration's plans to end the DACA program. That means it's unlikely the court will hear the administration's challenge to a lower court ruling this term. The decision to end protections for nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants has been on hold as lower courts have blocked the move - https://nyti.ms/2FG8nhH

Trump's approval rating tanks. 57 percent of Americans disapprove of President Trump's job performance, while only 40 percent approve - https://politi.co/2FJsQ52

Trump a 2020 underdog. A new national poll from a Democratic-leaning polling outfit says President Trump is trailing seven possible Democratic opponents in 2020 - http://bit.ly/2FJaRfe

Climate change. A new poll finds 48% of Americans say they're being harmed by global warming "right now." That's up 16 points from 2015 and nine points since last year - http://bit.ly/2FLzeso

Another one. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced he will seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Buttigieg is just 37, making him the youngest person to join the 2020 race so far - https://wapo.st/2FJ6zVa

Wait...what? President Trump's social media accounts have published photos of him in recent months that have been altered to make him look thinner and his hands appear larger - http://bit.ly/2FJg9XU

Los Angeles teachers return to the classroom. Teachers reached an agreement with the school district to end their 14-day strike. The deal includes a 6% raise and a plan to reduce class sizes - https://cnn.it/2FJq13W

Teachers in Denver vote to strike. It would be the first time in 25 years teachers in that city would go on strike - https://cnn.it/2FFFlhW


1845 - Congress decided that all national elections would take place on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

1849 - Elizabeth Backwell is awarded her M.D., becoming the United States' first doctor.

1957 - Inventor Walter Morrison sells the rights to his flying disc to the Wham-O toy company, which renames it the "Frisbee."

1964 - The 24th Amendment, prohibiting the use of poll taxes in national elections, is ratified.

1973 - President Richard Nixon announces that U.S. troops would cease fighting in Vietnam at midnight on Jan 27.

1980 - President Jimmy Carter reinstated the Selective Service System.

1997 - Madeline Albright was sworn in as the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State.

Policy News

Sen. Lee introduces bill to make Mexico City policy permanent
 Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced legislation Friday that would make the administration's "Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance" policy, formerly known as the Mexico City Policy, permanent statutory policy....
Utah Farm Bureau lists 'Issues to watch for in 2019'
The Utah Farm Bureau Federation has released its list of 'Issues to Watch For in 2019' as it implements its policy priorities during the 2019 Utah general legislative session....
images/1000px_Logos/SL_Chamber_Logo_1000.jpgThe 10th annual Clear the Air Challenge
 Join the Salt Lake Chamber, UCAIR and TravelWise this Friday, as we kickoff the 10th Annual Clear the Air Challenge. The Challenge, issued by business, government and community leaders, is a month-long competition designed to encourage Utahns to reduce their vehicle em...
House Republicans of Utah seek access to new, approved life-saving technology for state Medicare recipients with coronary artery disease
Utah's Congressional Republicans, led by Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT), are seeking to ensure Utah Medicare beneficiaries gain access to a life-saving, non-invasive technology used to diagnose coronary artery disease (CAD), the leading cause of death in the U.S. ...
images/1000px_Logos/SL_Chamber_Logo_1000.jpgSalt Lake Chamber calls on Utah's business community to give back on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
 In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Salt Lake Chamber has released the following statement:...

More National Headlines

What makes a liberal want to punch a child? (Spectator)

Peterson says Democrats should 'give Trump the money' for border wall (KFGO)

Sarah Sanders: White House not listening to Ocasio-Cortez 'on much of anything,' including doomsday prediction (FOX News)

Democrats lurch left on top policies as 2020 primary begins (Associated Press)

Nathan Phillips rally attempted to disrupt Mass at DC's National Shrine (CNA)

How Twitter could be the death of liberal democracy (The Week)

Vietnam Veteran status of Native American at center of viral encounter in D.C. in question (Washington Times)

San Francisco is a 'train wreck' because of the 'tech sector,' says Marc Benioff (San Francisco Chronicle)

White House planning to proceed with State of the Union, but details up in the air after Pelosi threat (FOX News)

Congress agitates to end relentless shutdown (Politico)

The super rich at Davos are scared of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposal to hike taxes on the wealthy (CNBC)

Wise Words


"After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb." Nelson Mandela

Lighter Side


"Netflix just announced they will be raising subscription prices by up to $2 a month. Yeah, I know, this is awful news for the person whose account you use." -JAMES CORDEN

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