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Situational awareness - February 28, 2020

Good morning from Salt Lake City and TGIF!


There are 10 working days remaining in the 2020 Utah Legislature

The South Carolina Democratic primary is tomorrow (2/29/2020)

4 days to the Utah presidential primaries (3/3/2020)

13 days to the final day of the 2020 Utah Legislature (3/12/2020)

25 days to the statewide neighborhood caucus meetings (3/24/2020)

57 days to the Utah Republican and Democratic state conventions (4/25/2020)

123 days to the 2020 Utah primary elections (6/30/2020)

249 Days to the 2020 election (11/3/2020)

332 days to the start of the 2021 Utah Legislature (1/25/2021)

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

  • Lawmakers and Better Boundaries tout the deal they reached to change Prop. 4.
  • The latest attempt to undermine the SB54 compromise is dead.
  • Gov. Gary Herbert casts doubt on a tax cut this year.
  • The financial markets tumble amid coronavirus fears.


This week's question comes from Natalie Gordon.

Who was the first African American district court judge in Utah? What governor appointed him/her?

Send your answers to We will pick a winner at random from the correct answers who will get to ask next week's question.

Good luck!


It's almost time for our third-annual "Utah political bracket" contest where we pit the 64 top Utah politicos against each other in our own version of March madness.

Will last year's winner, Greg Hughes, triumph again, or will another claim the championship belt?

If you would like to be part of our selection committee to set the field of 64, send me an email at

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.

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Today At Utah Policy

images/1000px_Capitol_Photos/Utah_Capitol_30.jpgBill to undercut signature-gathering path for candidates is dead this year
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
A bill to undermine the SB54 compromise by creating a convention-only path to the primary ballot is dead for the 2020 legislative session.
images/1000px_Article_Photos/20200227_Prop_4_Presser.jpg'This is a good compromise.' Lawmakers and Better Boundaries discuss changes to Prop. 4
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
Lawmakers and Better Boundaries took the wraps off their grand bargain to make changes to the voter-approved Prop. 4 on Thursday, with both sides heaping praise on the deal to create an independent redistricting commission.
images/1000px_Mugs/Gary_Herbert_06.jpgHerbert casts doubt on tax cut this year
By Bob Bernick, Contributing Editor
The chances that Utahns will see a tax cut or rebate from this Legislature dimmed a bit Thursday, when GOP Gov. Gary Herbert told reports, "I don't know" if tax relief is coming now.
images/1000px_Mugs/Christine_Cooke_02.jpgGuest opinion: Utah Legislature grapples with civics education
By Christine Cooke
Utah's discussion about civics education continues.
images/1000px_Capitol_Photos/Utah_Capitol_24.jpgLawmakers plan to establish several 'rainy day' funds in case Utah's economy cools off
By Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick
Legislative leaders are growing increasingly concerned that Utah's economic good times won't last. They're considering socking away possibly hundreds of millions of dollars from this year's extra cash to prepare for a downturn.
images/1000px_Capitol_Photos/Utah_Capitol_15.jpgLawmakers and Better Boundaries reach agreement over changes to independent redistricting initiative
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
Legislative leaders and representatives for the Better Boundaries group have reached an agreement over changes to the voter-passed initiative to create an independent redistricting commission.
images/1000px_Mugs/Dana_Meier_01.jpgGuest opinion: Balanced bonding program makes sense for Utah
By Dana Meier, WSP Vice President & Area Manager for Utah, Idaho and Montana
There is some discussion in the current Utah legislative session about bonding to accelerate important transportation projects.  That would be a welcome and important step, because Utah's population is growing rapidly and little is more critical to economic development and quality of life than a good transportation system.
images/1000px_Capitol_Photos/Utah_Capitol_19.jpgLawmakers may put $100 million aside this year as a hedge against an economic downturn
By Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick
Majority Republicans in the Utah Legislature are discussing putting as much as $100 million of extra income tax money into the state's rainy day funds as a hedge against any number of bad economic situations.
images/1000px_Mugs/Mitt_Romney_10.jpgRomney says the Trump administration is not prepared to battle the coronavirus
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
Sen. Mitt Romney confronted Trump administration officials on Tuesday over a lack of preparedness to fight a potential outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States.

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Deseret News

Salt Lake Tribune



Free falling

The Dow Jones dropped nearly 1,200 points on Thursday as fears about the spread of the coronavirus hit markets hard [CNN].

Global stocks plunged further on Friday following the drop on Wall Street [AP].

The Trump administration is facing a significant test as the spread of the virus is threatening economic growth [New York Times].

The world economy may be heading for its worst performance since the financial crisis in 2009 [Bloomberg].

The U.S. economy grew 2.1% in Q4, but the coronavirus will likely depress growth in the coming year [AP].


A whistleblower says officials at the Department of Health and Human Services sent more than a dozen workers to receive the first Americans exposed to the coronavirus without proper training or protective gear [Washington Post].

Putting a lid on it

The White House is clamping down on messaging about the virus from government health officials, directing them to coordinate all public statements with Vice President Mike Pence's office [New York Times].

Congress is nearing a bipartisan plan to provide emergency funding for coronavirus response [NPR].

Shares of Clorox hit a record high because of the spread of the coronavirus [Bloomberg].


President Donald Trump said Thursday the virus will "disappear" eventually "like a miracle" [CNN].

2020 election

Pete Buttigieg still leads in pledged delegates following a partial recount of the Iowa caucus results. Bernie Sanders' campaign is challenging the results [Politico].

One of the nation's largest labor unions will spend $150 million to help defeat President Trump in 2020 [AP].

Only 35 percent of Americans say they are confident their vote will be counted accurately in the November election [AP].


The Trump administration plans to triple fees for some immigration court filings [CNN].

A federal judge blocked the Trump administration from shifting funds for a military project to border wall construction [CNN].

Everybody has a podcast

Hillary Clinton is launching a program in late spring, just in time for the 2020 election [Politico].

"I can't even"

Officials at the EPA were flabbergasted by President Trump's rant about toilets that must be flushed a dozen times [NBC News].


Policy News

Casual Friday: Weekend Events & Outdoors Report
Outdoors Report--Salt Lake Tribune: Moab's Slickrock Trail spared from energy leasing as BLM withdraws'Utah's cultural heritage is under threat': Archeologists seek solutions as vandalism You can now hunt at most of Utah's state is one step closer to designating Utahraptor State ParkConcerts-- Danzn: A Journey to Latin America, Southwest Symphony, Friday, Cox Performing Arts Center, Dixie State University, 225 South 700 East, Saint George, $15-$28-- Guest Artist: Primrose Memorial Concert, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Madsen Recital Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center, Brigham Young University, Campus Drive and Heritage Drive, Provo, free-- Noteworthy, Friday, 7:30 p.m., De Jong Concert Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center, Brigham Young University, Campus Drive & Heritage Drive, Provo, $11-$13-- "Shut Up & Dance A Midsummer Night's Dream in Vegas!" Odyssey Dance Theatre, Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; also Saturday, 2 p.m., Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah, 1395 East President's Circle, Salt Lake City, $20-$40-- "Singin' in the Rain: Film in Concert with theUtah Symphony," Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Abravanel Hall, 123 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, $29.50-$95
images/1000px_Logos/WTC_Utah_Logo.pngJoin WTC Utah for a luncheon with the Ambassador from Saudi Arabia
World Trade Center Utah, in partnership with the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the Salt Lake Chamber, invites you to a luncheon welcoming Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States. Lunch will be provided. 
Utah business leader writes that Iranian people must forge a path to a constitutional democracy
Note: Khosrow B. Semnani and Amir Soltani recently published an op-ed about Iran in The Washington Times. An excerpt and a link to the full article are below. Semnani, a long-time Utahn, is an Iranian-American industrialist, community leader and philanthropist. Amir Soltani, a human rights activist, is the author of "Zahra's Paradise," an award-winning graphic novel on Iran's 2009 protests.
Michelle Flynn appointed as new Executive Director of The Road Home
After an extensive national search, The Road Home, a nonprofit provider of emergency shelter, housing and other homelessness services in Salt Lake County, today announced that its board of trustees has selected Michelle Flynn to serve as the new executive director. 

More National Headlines


1885 - The American Telephone and Telegraph Co. was incorporated in New York as a subsidiary of American Bell Telephone.

1935 - DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.

1940 - Basketball is televised for the first time. A game between Fordham University and the University of Pittsburgh from Madison Square Garden is aired.

1983 - The final episode of M*A*S*H airs, with almost 106 million viewers.

1993 - Federal agents attempting to serve warrants on the Branch Davidian religious cult's compound near Waco, Texas, were met with gunfire, marking the start of a month-and-a-half-long standoff.

2013 - Pope Benedict XVI resigns as the pope of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.

Wise Words

Pick a Side

"Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."Abraham Lincoln

Lighter Side

Biden and South Carolina

Biden is currently leading with black voters at 27%, according to Politico, with Bloomberg second. "Now that sounds surprising, but Bloomberg has been out there in the African American community, shaking hands and frisking babies," [Stephen] Colbert said.

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