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Situational awareness - January 29, 2018

Good Monday morning from Salt Lake City. 

Niederhauser says lawmakers need to start thinking about Utah's transportation future. The original estimate to build the new Utah State Prison was much higher than what lawmakers were told. Trump prepares for his first State of the Union address. 

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Here's what's driving the day:

Niederhauser says lawmakers should focus on taxes and transportation

We sat down for a podcast interview with Senate President Wayne Niederhauser about the 2018 session. He says there won't be any big moves on tax reform this year, but he does want lawmakers to start focusing on long-term solutions for transportation infrastructure [Utah Policy]. Here's the podcast of our full conversation [Utah Policy].

Changes to sex ed in Utah?

Rep. Raymond Ward says many Utah teachers just skip the section on contraceptives because they're worried about violating a state ban on "advocating" for their use. He wants to remove that provision from state code [Utah Policy].

A Romney romp in 2018?

Our "Political Insiders" say if Mitt Romney gets into the 2018 US Senate race, as expected, he will win handily in November [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

National headlines:

On this day in history:

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Today At Utah Policy

Niederhauser: Lawmakers are 'motivated' for slight income tax reduction in 2018

Utah lawmakers came into the 2018 session ready to overhaul Utah's tax system with the battle cry of "broaden the base and lower the rate." As we enter the second week, Republican leaders now say any sort of major reform is probably not possible....

Podcast: Interview with Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser speaks with Managing Editor Bryan Schott about the big issues facing lawmakers in the 2018 Legislature. ...

No surprise in 2018. 'Political Insiders' say Mitt Romney will win Utah's U.S. Senate seat

As we wait for Mitt Romney's probable entry into Utah's 2018 U.S. Senate race, our "Political Insiders" say there's really no one who can beat him this year....

Utah Rep. wants to make it easier to teach high school kids about contraceptives in sex ed

A Utah House member wants to remove from state law the prohibition against "advocating" for contraceptive use in teaching high school students....

Stewart: The fact that Trump didn't fire Mueller shows 'process worked' (with video)

Rep. Chris Stewart went on CNN Thursday night to respond to the bombshell New York Times report that President Trump ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller in June....

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Policy News

Strong biz support for Gov. Herbert's focus on CTE
As part of his 2018 State of the State message, Gov. Gary Herbert declared 2018 the Year of Technical Education, naming it his second-highest legislative priority....

Utah Unclaimed Property Administrator named President of National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators
The Office of the Utah State Treasurer announced that Utah Unclaimed Property Administrator Dennis Johnston will serve as the 2018 president of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators....

After 22 years, Utah Educational Savings Plan launches new brand
Utah Educational Savings Plan it is updating its brand and changing its name to my529, effective February 5, 2018....

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Local Headlines

Salt Lake Tribune

Op-ed: A flawed Census could hurt Utah's rural areas and marginalized communities

Op-ed: Allowing development in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons would destroy a legacy - and our precious water

Utah Representatives: We don't support recreational marijuana - but stigma shouldn't stall scientific research into its effects

Editorial: Two (small) ways to fight poverty in Utah

Utah spent $33 million on a pipeline application it never finished. The feds approved it anyway.

Voters in Utah might be OK with lawmakers raising their gas taxes to pay for roads, new poll finds

New Mormon leadership takes its first public stance, calls on Congress to make room for 'Dreamers'

What happens when a person in crisis calls a suicide hotline and no one answers? House OKs bill to prevent that.

'You can call me a whore, but, dude, you cannot call me cheap': Utah Rep. Chris Stewart responds to mean tweets

Spencer Cox returns to his No. 2 post after two hours as Utah's governor, but we'll always have the tweets

In a reversal that will end years of secrecy, Utah's county jail guidelines will be made public

Should Utah allow higher-alcohol beer in grocery stores? Utahns are split.

A bill to tweak the Utah Public Meetings Act for some counties doesn't make it far

Utah lawmakers, lobbyists and visitors to the state Capitol are blocked from websites related to alcohol, tobacco - and cream soda

Two-thirds of Salt Lake City's roads are rated poor or worse. Here are the worst, and what it would cost to fix them all.

Utah leaders never disclosed an $860M estimate to build a new prison and now costs for the project are rising

Gehrke: Utah lawmakers should listen to the pros and stop considering themselves 'constitutional scholars'

Deseret News

Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Utah government rocks; fed government stinks

Ralph Becker: What it takes to be a successful elected leader

Op-ed: Utah-led initiative is making more affordable medications

Op-ed: Raising the minimum wage makes sense for Utah's Navajo Nation

Editorial: Celebrating the collaborative efforts in Utah

LDS Church statement on DACA calls for 'hope and opportunity'

Utah House passes 'Hannah's Bill' to ensure suicide crisis lines staffed 24/7

Tax windfall generating legislative plans for extra revenue

Lawmakers considering 2 more bills related to Gary Ott controversy

Herbert made light of surgery; Lt. Gov. Cox briefly took charge

House panel OKs bill to make political emails on government accounts public records

Utah opioid bills take aim at access, doctor education

Mayor embraces 'new localism,' shifting power to 'problem solvers'

Medicaid expansion likely to make another appearance at the Utah Legislature

2018 Legislature will offer smorgasbord of environmental issues

Lawmakers take aim at water law reforms


New bill would ban phone calls while driving, unless with hands-free devices (Standard-Examiner)

Valley lawmakers hold first town hall of 2018 (Logan Herald Journal)

National Headlines

Senators Press Podesta And Other Democrats About Dossier-Related Contacts (Daily Caller)

Mexico to send troops to stem violence after record 25,000 murders (Reuters)

Hillary Clinton Let Him Stay. Women Say His Harassment Continued. (BuzzFeed)

Clinton thanks 'activist bitches' in bizarre video (New York Post)

Sorry skeptics, Trump's tax plan is actually working wonders (New York Post)

It's Trump's economy now (New York Times)

Trump wants Jay-Z to know black jobless rate at record low (Associated Press)

In State of Union, Trump to make case that America is back (Washington Post)

The Politics of Race and the Photo That Might Have Derailed Obama (New Yorker)

Cannabis Stocks Begin To Reflect The Real Industry (Forbes)

Trump administration is thinking about nationalizing 5G mobile network (CNBC)

Wise Words


"We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and even if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still." John Stuart Mill

Lighter Side

Bernie 2020

"It's come out that Bernie Sanders met with staffers to discuss a presidential run in 2020. Apparently, Bernie's first question will be, "Will I still be alive?" Conan O'Brien

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