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Situational awareness - February 14, 2018

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. Happy Valentine's Day! It's also Ash Wednesday.

Lawmakers reach the halfway point of the 2018 election. Legislators still have to set the budget next year, but they still don't know how much money they'll have to spend. The White House is still reeling from the fallout of abuse allegations against a top aide.

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Here's what's driving the day:

We're halfway done with the 2018 session

Well, a little more than halfway right now. Lawmakers have already tackled some big issues, but there's plenty still on their plate in the final days before they adjourn on March 8 [Utah Policy].

Setting the budget

Lawmakers still don't know how much extra money they'll have to spend next year. Sen. Jerry Stevenson plans to fast-track a bill to improve data sharing between the tax commission, governor's office, and the legislature so they can get a better handle on the budget situation [Utah Policy].

Overhauling Medicaid

Sen. Daniel Hemmert wants the state to ask the feds for a block grant to administer their own Medicaid program. If that fails, he wants to implement work requirements and other changes [Utah Policy].

Slowing the flow of bill requests

One lawmaker reportedly opened a whopping 82 bill files this year. Rep. Dan McCay wants to make known just how many bill requests a lawmaker submits, which should cut down on that behavior [Utah Policy].

Candidate field filling up

Democrat Kurt Weiland jumps into the race in Utah's 1st District against Republican Rob Bishop [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

National headlines:

On this day in history:

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Today At Utah Policy

Lawmakers will need to fast-track a bill this week to help set next year's budget

Lawmakers are anxious to get started setting the final budget for next fiscal year. But, they can't get started until they figure out exactly how much money they'll have to spend....

Weekly survey: What initiatives do you think will make the 2018 ballot?

There could be six initiatives on the 2018 ballot, but only if their backers can gather the required number of signatures before mid-April....

Lawmakers reach the halfway point in the 2018 session

Utah Legislature is at the halfway point of the 2018 session, and as is usually the case, most of the heavy work remains to be done....

Proposal could crack down on lawmakers who open an excessive number of bill files

Transparency will solve so many problems in government, believes Rep. Dan McCay, who wants the public to know who in the heck opened 82 bill files this session....

Lawmaker wants Utah to push feds to approve Medicaid block grants or make changes to the existing program

With the talk about Medicaid expansion taking up all the oxygen on Utah's Capitol Hill, there's a new proposal to overhaul Utah's existing Medicaid system....

Democrat Kurt Weiland files for CD1 race

A recent FEC filing shows that Democrat Kurt Weiland is in the race to challenge longtime Republican Rob Bishop in Utah's First Congressional District....

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Policy News

Utah Farm Bureau lists 'Issues to watch for in 2018'
The Utah Farm Bureau has released its list of 'Issues to Watch For in 2018' upon returning from the national agricultural convention for the American Farm Bureau Federation and is it implements its policy priorities during the 2018 Utah general legislative session....

Local Headlines

Salt Lake Tribune

Op-ed: Elected officials changing the will of the people before they even get a chance to vote

Editorial: The attorney general should join the effort against Big Pharma

Wary of saying humans are responsible, Utah lawmakers postpone vote on two climate-change resolutions

Rolly: If southern Utah lawmaker Mike Noel keeps pushing policies that hurt Salt Lake City residents, they should get to hurt him - at the ballot box

Bill advances to allow bicyclists to roll through stop signs, red lights

$1.5 billion in bonds for prison, highways now will come with an extra $10.5 million cost

Mayor Ben McAdams touts Operation Rio Grande, is sure Legislature will deliver funding help to areas near new homeless centers

Lawmakers vote to stiffen penalty for killing police dogs

By a single vote, the Utah House avoided a strikeout on bills that would legalize medical marijuana for terminally ill patients

Bill that would allow small Utah farmers to be free of some safety rules passes House

Lawmakers will consider - again - whether to abolish the death penalty in Utah

Jan Garbett is running as a United Utah Party candidate against Rep. Chris Stewart

Bill advances to strip power from UTA on how to spend new tax money in Weber, Davis counties

Rep. Mike Noel's company owned land inside Grand Staircase-Escalante while he fought against the monument

Deseret News

Jay Evensen: Legislative sex scandals - entrapment, or something else?

Boyd Matheson: Indentured servitude or a contract with value?

Inside the movement for paid time off to have a baby - in Utah and beyond

Bill allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs clears first hurdle

Renewing driver's license? Bill would tell you about improving air quality

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams renews pledge to pull support of homeless site if revenue bill fails

Utah Senate committee ices proposed gender-based wage gap study

Bill ensuring UTA follows priorities for Prop. 1 tax dollars advanced by Utah House committee

House committee ices climate change resolution but backs new emission-busting efforts

Senate approves tougher penalty for killing a K-9 police dog

Salt Lake City counters state's pitch for inland port authority

United Utah Party candidates to challenge 2 congressmen

Group says Utah lawmaker didn't disclose land in Grand Staircase

Washington County GOP elects lawyer to replace Utah House member caught in sex scandal

Should Utah Constitution include protection against electronic data searches?

Bill directing cultivation of cannabis in Utah narrowly passes House as several switch votes


Editorial: Utah needs to remove the stigma from breastfeeding in public (Standard-Examiner)

Northern Utah US House race draws two new hopefuls, both wary of Trump's tone (Standard-Examiner)

Utah Rep. Gage Froerer won't run again for House, to seek county spot instead (Standard-Examiner)

National Headlines

Trump Makes Gains Ahead of Midterms but Risks Remain for GOP (Morning Consult)

Feds Collect Record Taxes in First Month Under Tax Cut; Run Surplus in January (CNS News)

Justice for Gemmel Moore? Family wants answers in escort's death at Dem donor's home (FOX News)

Record Number of U.S. Small-Business Owners Say It's a Good Time to Expand (Bloomberg)

Letter with white powder for Trump Jr. calls him 'awful,' says he'll get what he 'deserves' (FOX News)

Jeff Sessions's 'Anglo-American' comments, and the danger of the liberal Trump outrage machine (Washington Post)

Total US household debt soars to record above $13 trillion (CNBC)

Bill Murray praises Republican tax cuts (Daily Mail)

How Wall Street's 'fear gauge' is being rigged, according to one whistleblower (MarketWatch)

Stocks Edge Higher as a 3-Day Win Streak Restores Some Calm (Associated Press)

Even Bill Gates is worried that Silicon Valley will unleash the Apocaplypse (Vanity Fair)

Wise Words


"Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why." Bernard Baruch

Lighter Side


"People are still excited about the Philadelphia Eagles winning their first Super Bowl! And did you know this? I read that Eagles coach Doug Pederson was coaching high school football just 10 years ago. Which sounds crazy, until you remember that just FIVE years ago, our president was firing Clay Aiken from a TV show." Jimmy Fallon

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