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Situational awareness - January 24, 2020

Good Friday morning from Salt Lake City

Thanks for subscribing to Utah's must-read daily political news rundown.

If you know of friends or colleagues who would benefit from our daily news roundup, please encourage them to sign up for our emails.

Here are the stories you need to pay attention to this morning:

  • Tax reform goes kaput.
  • Democrats will wrap up their prosecution in the impeachment trial Friday.
  • "Doomsday clock" moves closer to midnight.


This week's question is a two-parter from Andrew Gruber.

"What Utah Governor built the first passenger rail system on the Wasatch Front, an "inter-urban" line that opened in 1908 between Salt Lake City and Ogden? What attraction did this Governor build along that line as an amusement for families?"

Send your guesses to me at mailbag@utahpolicy.com. The third reader with the correct answer will get the honor of asking next week's question.


Days to the first day of the 2020 Utah Legislature: 3 (1/27/2020)

Days to the 2020 Iowa Caucuses: 10 (2/3/2020)

Days to the New Hampshire primaries: 18 (2/11/2020) 

Days to the Utah presidential primaries: 39 (3/3/2020)

Days to the final day of the 2020 Utah Legislature: 48 (3/12/2020)

Days to the 2020 Utah primary elections: 158 (6/30/2020)

Days to the 2020 election: 284 (11/3/2020)

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Today At Utah Policy

images/1000px_Mugs/Bernick_Mug_01.jpgBob Bernick's notebook: Tax reform failure a painful lesson for Republicans
By Bob Bernick, Contributing Editor
So, is Utah's food tax exemption really safe, now that GOP lawmakers and Gov. Gary Herbert plan to repeal the new, huge tax reform bill passed just over a month ago?My guess is -- Yes.
images/1000px_Article_Photos/Tax_referendum_01.jpgPoll shows most Utahns supported the referendum effort to overturn tax reform
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
On Thursday Governor Gary Herbert and legislative leaders announced they planned to repeal the controversial tax reform in the face of a referendum effort to overturn the bill at the ballot box. A new poll shows that referendum effort would have likely succeeded.
images/1000px_Mugs/Gary_Herbert_06.jpgGovernor Herbert and legislative leaders announce they will repeal controversial tax reform law (Updated)
By Bob Bernick, Contributing Editor
 Republicans on Capitol Hill threw in the towel Thursday, saying next Monday they will repeal the just-passed tax reform package.
images/1000px_Mugs/Cox_Huntsman_01.jpgPoll shows Huntsman and Cox tied in GOP governor's race
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
Former Gov. Jon Huntsman has pulled into a virtual tie with Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox among likely Republican primary voters according to a new poll.
images/1000px_Capitol_Photos/Utah_Capitol_01.jpgAnalysis: A handful of Republican 'no' votes on tax reform paved the way for the referendum effort
By Bob Bernick, Contributing Editor
Sometimes history and political movements are changed by just a few votes.
images/1000px_Article_Photos/20200122_Wilson_Pod.jpgPodcast: House Speaker Brad Wilson previews the 2020 Utah Legislature
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
The 2020 Utah Legislature begins on Monday.House Speaker Brad Wilson joins UtahPolicy.com Managing Editor Bryan Schott and Contributing Editor Bob Bernick to discuss the pressing issues ahead of the session.
images/1000px_Mugs/Sean_Reyes_01.jpgReyes signs on to letter urging the Senate to reject impeachment
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is one of 21 Republican attorneys general who sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging them to reject the impeachment of President Donald Trump, saying it would establish "a dangerous historical precedent."
images/1000px_Screenshots/20200122_Lee_Fox.jpgLee says House impeachment managers were 'rude' and 'insulting'
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
Sen. Mike Lee said he was disappointed in the behavior displayed by the House impeachment managers during the first day of President Donald Trump's trial in the Senate. 
images/1000px_Mugs/Wilf_Sommerkorn_01.jpgGuest opinion: The problem with citizen votes on land use decisions
By Wilf Sommerkorn
The 2018 election in Utah saw a couple of significant local referenda on the ballot that most will remember the rescinding of the Holladay City approval for the redevelopment of the old Cottonwood Mall site, and the acceptance of a rezone in Orem for an apartment development adjacent to Utah Valley University.
images/1000px_Capitol_Photos/Utah_Capitol_14.jpgTax referendum could complicate efforts to set next year's budget
By Bob Bernick and Bryan Schott
Utah GOP legislative leaders and their staffs are having a hard time figuring out what to do about budgeting in the general session with the citizen referendum on tax reform hanging over their heads.
images/mugs/LaVarr_Webb.jpgPolitical courage displayed in rapidly growing Utah County
By LaVarr Webb, Publisher
Commissioners Tanner Ainge and Nathan Ivie are showing some real political courage in Utah County.

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Deseret News

Salt Lake Tribune



The prosecution rests

House impeachment managers will wrap up their case against President Donald Trump sometime today during day four of the impeachment trial. Democrats spent most of Thursday detailing their evidence that Trump abused his power by withholding military aid to Ukraine [Washington Post].

Senate Republicans are pointing to President Trump's threat to invoke executive privilege in order to argue against issuing subpoenas for witnesses and documents in the trial [CNN].

President Trump and his legal team are growing increasingly confident he'll be acquitted by the Senate [Bloomberg].

Trump vs. Bloomberg

President Trump saw a campaign ad for Michael Bloomberg on Fox News and reacted on Twitter against the advice of his political team [New York Times].


China is now restricting travel for 35 million people in 12 cities to stop the spread of the virus. There have now been 26 deaths from the outbreak [New York Times].


The U.S. had a chance to kill Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in 2007 but backed off [Yahoo].

New policy

The Trump administration unveiled a rule allowing customs officials to deny entry to pregnant women to cut down on so-called "birth tourism" [The Hill].

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

A notoriously anti-Semitic news outlet says they were invited by the White House to cover the recent World Economic Forum in Davos [Washington Times].

Doomsday clock

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set the "Doomsday Clock" to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest to armageddon it has been since the group started the exercise in 1947 [Science].

News you can use

The company behind FICO credit scores says they will change the way they calculate creditworthiness [USA Today].


Policy News

Casual Friday: Weekend Events & Outdoors Report
Outdoors Report--Salt Lake Tribune:Feds propose oil and gas leasing on Moab's famed Slickrock bike trail--Salt Lake Tribune: Feds overrule nomination of Moab-area rock art sites to National Register--KSL.com:Desolation Canyon float trips: What they might cost and why that matters--KSL.com: Utah cougar harvest quotas increased as wildlife officials seek to combat deer declineConcerts-- 20th Annual WSU Gospel Music Festival, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Val A. Browning Center, 3850 University Circle, Weber State University, Ogden, free, non-perishable food item donation greatly appreciated-- Brassworks, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Madsen Recital Hall, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center, Brigham Young University, Campus Drive and Heritage Drive, Provo, free-- "Off The Map: Kun Canada's Global Orchestra," Friday, 7:30 p.m., Pardoe Drama Theatre, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center, Brigham Young University, Drive & Heritage Drive, Provo, $20-$35-- "In Accord: An Evening of Dance and Music," Tanner Dance, Friday and Saturday, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., University of Utah, Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts & Education Complex, 1720 Campus Center Drive, Salt Lake City, $8-$10-- "Swan Lake," Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., also Saturday, 2 p.m., De Jong Concert Hall, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center, Brigham Young University, Campus Drive & Heritage Drive, Provo, $9-$16
images/1000px_Logos/WTC_Utah_Logo.pngCome network with a delegation from the Hangzhou Province
World Trade Center Utah, in partnership with the Governor's Office of Economic Development, invites you to a roundtable discussion about the opportunities and challenges of doing business in the Hangzhou Province. This networking event will give Utah companies a chance to connect with companies from the Hangzhou Province.
images/1000px_Logos/WTC_Utah_Logo.pngTrade wars or truce? Join WTC Utah for a seminar to learn more
Join the World Trade Center Utah and Harris Bricken to learn what to expect while doing business in China under phase 1 of the newly signed trade deals. Learn from international attorneys Dan Harris, Rob Lamb and Jonathan Bench as they discuss how the legal landscape is changing how business is done in China. Lunch will be provided.

More National Headlines


1848 - Gold was discovered at John Sutter's mill near Sacramento. The discovery touched off the gold rush of 1849.

1916 - The Supreme Court ruled an income tax was constitutional.

1984 - Apple's Macintosh computer went on sale. Price tag: $2,495.

1995 - The prosecution gave its opening statement in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

Wise Words


"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence."Confucius

Lighter Side


"Yep, during the entire trial, senators will have to remain in their seats. And if they're also refused food and water, it will be just like flying Southwest."- JIMMY FALLON

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