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Situational awareness - February 26, 2018

Good Monday morning from Salt Lake City. There are just 9 working days until the end of the 2018 Utah Legislature.

A small group of Utah GOP hardliners sows chaos in the party. Utahns approve of Medicaid work requirements. Congress gets back to work with new pressure to take action on guns.

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Here's what's driving the day:

GOP Chaos

A small group of hardliners in the Utah GOP passed a rule change on Saturday that would "immediately" strip the party membership of any candidate that takes the signature-gathering route to the ballot. That means Mitt Romney could be kicked out of the Utah GOP if he uses signatures to get on the ballot. The restriction doesn't apply to Reps. Mia Love and John Curtis, who have already started gathering signatures. And, that same group fired the Utah GOP's attorney and rejected the entire list of people Chairman Rob Anderson picked to help him plan April's state convention [Utah Policy].

Utahns support expanding Medicaid with work requirements

Our new poll shows nearly 2/3rds of Utahns say they support a plan to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act that will be coupled with work requirements and caps on what the state will pay [Utah Policy].

Utah House cracking down on journalists

Utah Representatives will consider a rule change that would keep journalists off the House floor 45 minutes before a session, severely limiting the access journalists have to lawmakers [Utah Policy].

Separation of powers battle

The House introduces a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow them to call themselves into special session. Right now, only the governor can do that [Utah Policy].

Chavez-Houck not running

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck says she doesn't have the "fire in the belly" to run for Sen. Jim Dabakis's seat after he retires this year [Utah Policy].

Abolishing the death penalty

Our "Political Insiders" mostly support the effort to abolish the death penalty in Utah, but the Republicans on our panel are evenly divided [Utah Policy].

Webb and his AR-15

Publisher LaVarr Webb writes about gun control and admits he owns an AR-15 [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

National headlines:

On this day in history:

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Today At Utah Policy

Most Utahns back expanding Medicaid with work requirements and caps on what the state would spend

Two-thirds of Utahns want the GOP-controlled Legislature to adopt Medicaid expansion, the health insurance program for the poor that lawmakers continuously opposed during Democratic President Barack Obama's time....

Chaos in the Utah GOP! Hardliners adopt rule change that could kick Mitt Romney (and other candidates) out of the party

You may have thought the internal workings of the Utah Republican Party were really screwed up before....

Guns? I have a few

I grew up fishing and hunting in various places around Utah. As a teen, I loved to tramp the fields and marshes in the fields around Utah Lake, often alone, with a shotgun over my shoulder, hunting pheasants, ducks, quail and sometimes crows and magpies (legal back then)....

'Political Insiders' mostly say Utah should abolish the death penalty

Some legislative Republicans are pushing a bill that would abolish the death penalty in Utah. Our "Political Insiders" are mostly on board with that idea, but Republicans are divided....

Chavez-Houck decides to not run for Dabakis' seat

After dancing around the idea for a few days, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck has decided not to run for the SD2 seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Dabakis....

Possible House Rule change would clamp down on journalists

A proposed rule change in the Utah House of Representatives appears to be an attempt to crack down on press access to lawmakers and set up a kind of safe space away from the media....

Proposed constitutional change would give lawmakers the power to call themselves into a special session

Utah lawmakers who now can only be called into a special session by the governor would have the power to call themselves into such sessions and set their own agendas under a constitutional amendment introduced Friday....

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Policy News

SLCC's Grand Theatre welcomes Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale
Salt Lake Community College is hosting author and activist Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, at SLCC's Grand Theatre on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. The free event is open to the public....

Salt Lake County accepting applications from arts organizations for funding consideration
Arts and cultural projects or organizations can apply to receive funding from Salt Lake County as part of the Cultural Facilities Support Program....

ALAS-Utah offers scholarships to Latino educators
 The Utah affiliate of ALAS (the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents) recently announced two $5,000 scholarships for Latino educators who aspire to school and/or district level leadership positions....

Girls Who Code clubs to launch statewide in Utah
In partnership with Adobe, Dell EMC, Girls Who Code and Microsoft, the Utah STEM Action Center announced the launch of the Utah Girls Who Code Club Network, at an event at Dell EMC. ...

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Local Headlines

Salt Lake Tribune

Editorial: Schools should teach students about consent

Utah senators vote to give more money to some school districts, despite concerns it means less money for all

With one vote to spare, the Utah House agrees to strip the state school board of its final say in approving or denying new charter schools

Company abruptly withdraws bid to bring out-of-state industrial waste to a landfill it is building near the Great Salt Lake

Noting Utah's high inmate death rate, lawmakers want jails to report on in-custody deaths every year

Romney hires longtime aide, and Trump campaign treasurer, as his Senate organization's accountant

Until now, stealing a police dog was a more serious crime than killing one. Lawmakers vote to change that.

Gary Ott spent years in public office with progressive Alzheimer's disease. Lawmakers are taking steps to avoid a repeat.

Deseret News

Op-ed: Utah should support a state earned income tax credit

Op-ed: Improving school libraries gives Utah students a first-rate education

Editorial: Training rural Utahns in tech jobs is money well spent

Utah senator day drinks before presenting bill to delay state's new .05 percent DUI law

Campus civil liberties resolution headed to final passage

Utah Senate panel gives OK to inmate addiction study bill

Bill would require Utah truckers to be trained to identify victims of human trafficking

Police unable to identify 'date' who showed up at Utah senator's hotel room

Utah Legislature urges full compensation on rural $ for federal lands

Utah lawmakers stiffen penalty for killing police dog

Utah House votes to ban A.G., other state offices from fundraising during legislative session

Utah Senate gives preliminary approval to bill equalizing school funding

Utah's changing demographics could impact local economy

Legislators to field questions, concerns on prison construction, inland port on Saturday

Utah attorney general kicks off a cultural celebration of Latinos at the Capitol

Lawmakers advance bill instructing all doctors to complete suicide prevention training

Working conditions a key factor in teacher turnover, Brown University professor says

Bill to remove mentally unfit elected officials passes Utah House

Utah launches statewide network of girls' coding clubs

Utah lawmakers debate, fail to act on family leave bill

Rep. Mia Love: 'Everything has to be on the table' after Florida school shooting

Utah Sen. Mike Lee opposes AR-15 ban, says hard to distinguish from hunting rifles

Utah contingent offering Olympic officials a reminder that Utah is 'ready, willing and able' to host Games again


Editorial: Utahns' understanding of the 2nd Amendment enhances ability to make better change (Daily Herald)

Bill would apply Utah's open-container alcohol laws to motorized bicycles (Standard-Examiner)

Weber County ag boosters tout import of farming even as more development looms (Standard-Examiner)

Arm the teachers? Utah educators can already legally pack heat (Logan Herald Journal)

National Headlines

Fire And Fury author Michael Wolff flees Today interview after questions over Trump's affairs (

Free news gets scarcer as paywalls tighten (AFP)

California Democrats agree they have too many candidates for Congress. What to do about them is the problem. (Los Angeles Times)

Florida lawmakers call for suspension of Broward sheriff after Parkland massacre as he defends 'amazing leadership' (Chicago Tribune)

Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Public-Sector Unions (Wall Street Journal)

California Democrats deny Sen. Feinstein an endorsement (CNN)

Ivanka Trump: Arming teachers an option that 'needs to be discussed' (NBC News)

Lines Out the Door and Strong Sales at Tampa Gun Show (New York Times)

White House Legal Team Considers Ways Trump Could Testify Before Mueller (Wall Street Journal)

Glenn Beck: Divisions in US reminiscent of Germany in 1920s (The Hill)

Ranchers set to fight back against vegetarian 'fake meat' (USA Today)

Wise Words


"What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself." Abraham Maslow

Lighter Side

Popular Vote

"According to a New York Times survey of political scientists across both parties, Donald Trump has been rated America's worst president ever. I had a sneaking suspicion. It's pretty incredible because it's the first time Trump has won a popular vote." James Corden

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