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Situational awareness - February 22, 2018

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. There are just 11 working days until the end of the 2018 Utah Legislature.

Utahns don't think lawmakers should cut taxes. Lawmakers have more than a half billion extra to spend this year. Students shine a light on gun violence.

Do you believe in miracles? 38 years ago today a group of college hockey players defeated the mighty Soviet Union hockey team 4-3 during the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic games. Nearly four decades later to the day, the U.S. Women's Hockey Team struck gold in Korea after an electrifying shootout win over Canada late last night. Watch the winning goal here - https://goo.gl/2xYXu6

I was a guest on Ken Rudin's "Political Junkie" podcast this week to discuss Mitt Romney's entry into the U.S. Senate race in Utah. Give it a listen - https://goo.gl/ZEFAUz

Tick Tock:

Do you like podcasts? Give us a download! Listen to our interviews with Utah political newsmakers and "Bernick and Schott on politics" while you're on the go. Hosts Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick have more than 60 years combined experience covering Utah politics, so they bring you knowledge and insight that's unprecedented. You can subscribe using iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

I'm always available for you to send story ideas, tips, suggestions or if you'd like to start a curling team. I'll even let you be the skip! Hit me up at bschott@utahpolicy.com.

If you have friends or colleagues who would enjoy receiving this daily news rundown, tell them they can subscribe to our newsletter here.

Here's what's driving the day:

Utahns want extra state money spent on education or Medicaid instead of a tax cut

The state will get an $80 million windfall because of the federal tax cut. Lawmakers are looking at a tax cut to even things out for taxpayers, but a new UtahPolicy.com survey shows Utahns want that extra cash spent on other state needs [Utah Policy].


Utah's budget surplus is an estimated $581 million this year, which is the biggest Utah has seen since the great recession [Utah Policy].

Death penalty debate

Gov. Gary Herbert says he may sign a bill to abolish the death penalty in Utah [Utah Policy].

Non-compete contract legislation moves ahead

A bill to ban non-compete contracts for employees in the news media passes the Utah House, but it may face an uncertain future in the Senate [Utah Policy].

Going it alone with a stricter DUI law

A bill would repeal Utah's strict .05% DUI law if at least three other states don't adopt a similar standard by the end of the year [Utah Policy].

Change of plans?

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck says she may not retire from the legislature this year. She's considering a run for the Utah Senate seat that's open due to the retirement of Sen. Jim Dabakis [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

National headlines:

On this day in history:

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Today At Utah Policy

Lawmakers want to cut taxes. Poll shows Utahns want extra money spent on other needs

Utah lawmakers have $80 million extra to spend because of the tax overhaul bill passed by Congress at the end of last year. That's on top of the $581 million in extra funds provided by a budget surplus....

Utah's budget surplus surges to more than half a billion dollars

Whoa, momma! The Utah Legislature has $581 million more dollars in tax revenue to put into the state budget or even return some to taxpayers in tax cuts....

House passes bill to ban noncompete contracts for news media

Pointing out that there were no TV news cameras reporting on their actions, Utah House members passed a bill Wednesday that would severely curtail media broadcasters' use of "non-compete" contracts with their anchors, producers, and reporters....

Weekly survey: Should Utah abolish the death penalty?

Legislators are mulling a bill to abolish the death penalty in Utah. Do you think they should get rid of the practice or keep it? Vote now in our weekly survey....

Gov. Herbert says he might sign legislation to do away with the death penalty in Utah

 Utah may well do away with the death penalty for our worst murderers having life without parole instead....

CYBER 24 podcast: Dangers of the dark web

The internet is widely considered to be a place where you can find, well, access to all human knowledge - good and bad. In reality, what most of us think of as the World Wide Web, accounts for only about four percent of what the internet really is....

Democrat Chavez-Houck may not retire in 2018, mulling a bid to replace Dabakis in the Utah Senate

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" - Michael Corleone, Godfather III...

Dabakis says Utah should repeal .05 blood alcohol law if other states don't adopt similar legislation

Last year Utah adopted the strictest DUI measure in the entire country, setting the blood alcohol limit at .05%. Now, one lawmaker says if other states don't follow suit, Utah should back off the restrictive policy....

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Policy News

Utah students rank fifth in nation for passing AP exams
 With 67.5 percent of Utah students taking AP exams earning college credit, Utah ranks fifth in the nation for percentage of students passing AP exams, data released by the College Board showed....

Register now for the International Trade Financing 101 Seminar on March 6
World Trade Center Utah, in partnership with the Export-Import Bank of the United States, invites you to join us at our International Trade Financing Seminar to learn how you can obtain funds to increase your profits, limit your risk and compete glob...

Governor appoints Troy Little to the Fifth District Juvenile Court
Gov. Gary R. Herbert has appointed Troy Little as a judge for the Fifth District Juvenile Court....

Local Headlines

Salt Lake Tribune

Michelle Quist: If we're going to be pro-life, then let's be pro-life

Holly Richardson: Six things the Utah Legislature is doing right

Utah lawmaker votes against an education bill he briefly sponsored

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes hints at suing feds over control of public lands

After hearing that fears about pollution are overblown, Utah lawmakers OK plan to pare back watershed protections

Lawmakers back giving developers parts of Utah Lake for an island subdivision - in exchange for fixing the polluted lake's many problems

As Salt Lake City weighs a sales tax hike and bonds for a big capital plan, 'The public process begins'

After removal of controversial language, House advances bill to allow breast-feeding in all public places

'We have an absolute crisis in America': Lawmaker pushes resolution calling on Utah attorney general to sue over opioid epidemic

Gov. Herbert says he might sign bill abolishing Utah's death penalty

As Utah lawmakers push forward a bill to abolish the death penalty, family members of murder victims make emotional pleas both for and against it

Businesses that are selling CBD - a cannabis byproduct - in Utah could do so legally under a bill that passed the Senate

Contending Utah TV stations abuse employee contracts, House passes 'noncompete' bill

Utah legislators told they have an extra $209 million to spend

Gov. Herbert on guns: 'A lot of things we can be doing and should be doing'

Utah soon could be first state to fully legalize self-driving cars on its roads

President Trump's tax bill gave Utah politicians $80 million in an election year. Now they have to decide what to do with the tax hike

Senate OKs bill banning police departments from giving officers ticket and arrest quotas

House speaker goes 1-1 in battles for more power vs. governor

Deseret News

A. Scott Anderson: Global TradePort is immense opportunity for Utah

Jay Evensen: Let's have a sober look at the .05 percent DUI law

Utah House panel endorses bill increasing penalty for killing police dog

Utah lawmakers declare 'Orrin Hatch Day,' share stories honoring retiring senator

Utah House panel advances bill to end death penalty

Pornography's harms, refusal skills key components of revised Utah sex ed bill

Utah House votes to restrict noncompete contracts in broadcast media

Bill allowing mothers to breast-feed in public passes in Utah House

Utah lawmakers advance resolution calling on attorney general to directly sue opioid manufacturers

Utah Senate committee gives proposed $5M film incentive boost a rave review

Controversial water bills taking aim at Salt Lake City

Autonomous vehicle bill rolls through House committee hearing

Utah Senate passes ban on law enforcement ticket quotas

Utah House panel OKs bill reducing time to declare if gathering voter signatures

Bills directing cannabis growing in Utah, giving access to dying patients, to go before full Senate

Utah House shoots down bill to create legislative oversight committee

Parties would nominate candidates to fill future congressional vacancies under Utah bill

Utah lawmakers now have $563 million in additional revenues

Resolution to rally cities against gangs gets nod from Senate committee

Democrat Jenny Wilson takes aim at Republican Mitt Romney's response on gun violence

Senate panel backs reports on law enforcement actions regarding students

Utah Senate committee endorses grant program for after-school programs

Utah County backs off creation of prosecution review board

67.5 percent of Utah students taking AP tests earn college credit

Utah Gov. Herbert: Public wants leaders to 'do something' about school shootings


Gibson backers, officials say river project handled properly as probe continues (Standard-Examiner)

National Headlines

Trump approval pops to 48% (Rasmussen Reports)

Trump's Republican Critics Find Sudden Need for His Support (New York Times)

Sanders Blames Clinton for Not Informing People About Russian Meddling (Free Beacon)

Parkland shooter always in trouble, never expelled. Could school system have done more? (Miami Herald)

Billy Graham, America's pastor, has died (USA Today)

Franklin Graham followed in his father Billy's footsteps, but took a right-leaning path (NBC News)

Nancy Pelosi Calls Trump Tax Reform 'Unpatriotic' (Breitbart)

Newsweek publishes expos about itself after staff firings (Washington Post)

Pennsylvania GOP leaders ask Supreme Court to block redrawn congressional map (FOX News)

During an epic Supreme Court term, it's hard not to mythicize the justices (Washington Examiner)

Supreme Court declines to broaden whistleblower protections (Reuters)

Wise Words

Common Sense

"Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lighter Side

Grand Jury

"If Trump refuses the interview, Robert Mueller could subpoena him to testify before a grand jury. Which would be OK with Trump, provided it was the grandest jury, the most luxurious jury of all the juries." James Corden

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