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The UtahPolicy.com daily newsletter gets you up to speed on the top local and national news about politics and public policy. Send news tips or feedback to bschott@utahpolicy.com, or message us on Twitter.

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Situational awareness - August 14, 2020

Good morning from Salt Lake City and TGIF!


6 days to the 6th special session (8/20/2020)

41 days to the 1st Congressional District debate (9/24/2020)

46 days to the Utah gubernatorial debate (9/28/2020)

48 days to the Utah Attorney General debate (10/01/2020)

54 days to the Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah (10/07/2020)

59 days to the 4th Congressional District debate (10/12/2020)

62 days to the 3rd Congressional District debate (10/15/2020)

66 days to the 2nd Congressional District debate (10/19/2020)

81 days to the 2020 election (11/3/2020)

159 days to inauguration day (01/20/2021)

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

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

  • Trump's all-out assault on vote-by-mail.
  • Legislative Republicans back off a plan some were calling "backdoor vouchers."
  • Teachers in the Granite School District say they don't feel safe returning to class, but they don't have enough support for a strike.


Break out your maps! This week's question comes from Zachary Zundel:

Ten political entities legally share sovereignty within the boundaries of the State of Utah. Utah and the United States are two of the ten. Name four of the remaining eight entities.

Email your guesses to me at mailbag@utahpolicy.com. We'll select a winner at random from the correct entries. 

Good luck!

Thanks for subscribing to Utah's must-read daily political news rundown.

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Today At Utah Policy

images/1000px_Mugs/McAdams_Owens_01.jpgMcAdams/Owens matchup shifts slightly toward the GOP
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
Freshman Democrat Ben McAdams' re-election prospects are looking a little dicier with less than three months to go before the election. 
images/1000px_Capitol_Photos/Utah_Capitol_05.jpgLegislative Republicans back away from 'backdoor voucher' plan
By Bob Bernick, Contributing Editor
Utah lawmakers will not consider a bill in next week's special legislative session that would give tax cuts/credits to parents whose children are home-taught instead of attending in-person K-12 classes when public schools open later this month, UtahPolicy.com has been told.
images/1000px_Article_Photos/Granite_Schools_01.pngTeachers in the Granite School District say they're afraid to return to the classroom, but union officials say there's not a 'critical mass' of support for a strike yet
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
More than half of teachers surveyed in the Granite School District say there's no amount of sanitation or personal protective equipment that would protect them from being infected with the coronavirus when in-person classes resume a week from Monday. 
images/1000px_Mugs/Mitt_Romney_12.jpgAnatomy of a smear. Right-wing conspiracy site pushes false story targeting Mitt Romney
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
On Wednesday, right-wing social media exploded with the news that Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was reportedly leading an effort to block the issuing of subpoenas to former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan as part of an investigation into the origins of special counsel Robert Muller's probe into Russian contacts with Donald Trump's campaign. The problem is, none of that is true. 
images/1000px_Article_Photos/GOP_Cash_01.jpgRepublican candidates for governor spent nearly $4 million on advertising ahead of the primary
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
The Republican candidates for governor spent more than $3.7 million on advertising ahead of the party's June primary.
images/1000px_Article_Photos/20200812_Rigged_Book.pngPodcast: Understanding the threat from Russian election interference with David Shimer
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
America is still trying to come to grips with the story of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Russia's efforts to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton, and later how they helped Republican Donald Trump win, is something Americans need to understand if only to keep it from happening again.
images/1000px_Article_Photos/20200812_Rich_States.pngUtah ranked #1 in new economic competitiveness outlook
By News release
The American Legislative Exchange Council released the thirteenth edition of Rich States, Poor States its newest publication in an annual series illustrating each states' competitiveness and economic outlook using 15 equally weighted policy variables and examining trends from past decades. This publication examines the policy choices made across the 50 states in 2019 and whether those choices have improved economic competitiveness.
images/1000px_Capitol_Photos/Utah_Capitol_06.jpgLawmakers considering bonding to boost economy
By Bryan Schott, Managing Editor
With apologies to William Shakespeare, to bond or not to bond, that is the question Utah lawmakers are wrestling with.

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Deseret News

Salt Lake Tribune


The battle over vote-by-mail

President Donald Trump said Thursday he opposed much-needed funding for the postal service because it would be used for mail-in voting in November [CNN].

The post office is deactivating mail sorting machines that would handle mail-in ballots ahead of the election without any explanation [Vice].

Democrats in Congress are demanding that the new head of the Postal Service roll back a number of changes he's instituted before election day [NBC News].

The USPS says mail ballots may not be delivered on time to voters in Pennsylvania because deadlines there are too tight [Philadelphia Inquirer].

The Supreme Court denied a request from Republicans to reinstate a requirement in Rhode Island that mail-in ballots must be signed in the presence of two witnesses or a notary [ScotusBlog].

President Trump and his wife Melania have requested mail-in ballots for the upcoming Florida primary despite his rhetoric that mail-in voting would lead to election fraud [USA Today].

Here we go again

President Trump promoted a racist conspiracy theory that Sen. Kamala Harris might not be a U.S. citizen and therefore ineligible to be vice president. Trump previously suggested the same thing about former President Barack Obama [WaPo].

Stimulus delay

Any action on another coronavirus relief bill will likely wait until September at the earliest [CNN].


The number of new unemployment claims last week slipped below 1 million for the first time since March [USA Today].


Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris call for a nationwide mask mandate to "save lives" and stop the spread of the coronavirus [Twiiter].

The true death toll from the coronavirus in the U.S. is likely already more than 200,00 according to a new analysis [NYT].

A new poll shows a third of Americans say they won't get vaccinated against Covid-19 when a vaccine becomes available [NPR].


The Secret Service, worried that protests following the killing of George Floyd could overrun the White House, sought tactical aircraft and surveillance drones as a countermeasure to the demonstrations [WaPo].

Who cares about ethics?

President Trump said Thursday he's planning to deliver his speech accepting the Republican Party's nomination from the White House lawn. Critics say the location is inappropriate and an ethical violation [New York Post].

Another Trump tell-all

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer, released the foreword from his forthcoming memoir on Thursday. He claimed he has "proof" Trump cheated with the Russians to win the 2016 election among other things [NYT].

Bold prediction...

President Trump says taxes and a spike in crime could help him carry New York in the 2020 election. Trump lost New York by more than 20 points in 2016. Democrats would love to see Trump's campaign spend money there [New York Post].

Saying the quiet part out loud

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said this week his probe of Obama-era intelligence agencies would help President Trump win re-election in November [Politico].

QAnon caucus

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican nominee for Congress from Georgia, is not only a believer in the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, she's also a 9/11 truther, claiming there's "no evidence" a plane crashed into the Pentagon [Business Insider].

Historic agreement

Israel and the United Arab Emirates struck a historic deal to normalize relations between the two countries [BBC].


Policy News

Casual Friday: Weekend Events & Outdoors Report 8-14-20
Outdoors Report-- The Salt Lake Tribune: The best places in northern Utah to beat the heat -- The Salt Lake Tribune: Feds yank oil and gas leases near Arches, Canyonlands parks from upcoming sale-- KSL.com: GottaGoUtah.Org offers tips on handling waste on Utah lands-- KSL.com: DWR temporarily suspends target shooting at 17 Utah locations amid active fire season-- KSL.com: From dumping ground to recreation opportunities, officials hope to continue to reshape Jordan River-- KSL.com: Work begins on new pedestrian bridge in Lehi aimed to further connect Wasatch Front trail systemsConcerts-- "Encore Concert," Music Theatre West, Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., The Ellen Eccles Theatre, 43 South Main, Logan, $8-$10-- Geezerfest, Friday and Saturday, Orem City Center Park, 300 East Center Street, Orem, free-- Joshua Creek, Saturday, 7 p.m., Zermatt Resort, 784 West Resort Drive, MidwayTheater-- "Bright Star" through August 15, Hale Centre Theatre-- "Les Misrables School Edition" through August 15, Kensington Theatre-- "Seussical Jr." through August 15, High Valley Arts -- "Seussical Kids" through August 15, High Valley Arts -- "The Music Man" through August 21, SCERA Center-- "James Blonde License to Thrill" through August 22, Desert Star Playhouse-- "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" through August 22, Timpanogos Valley Theatre-- "Little Shop of Horrors" through August 22, Murray Arts in the Park-- "Mary Poppins" through September 5, Hale Centre Theatre-- "Window Seat Sessions" through September 5, Good Company Theatre-- "Finding the Fickle Fortune" through September 12, Pickleville Playhouse-- "Little Women" through September 12, Hale Center Theater Orem-- "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" through September 19, St. George Musical TheaterEt cetra-- Garfield County Fair, Friday and Saturday, Triple C Arena, 800 North Main Street, Panguitch-- Kane County Fair, Friday and Saturday, North Events Center, 475 East State Street, Orderville-- Rich County Fair and Rodeo, Friday and Saturday, Rich County Fairgrounds, Randolph-- Wayne County Fair, Friday and Saturday, Wayne County Fairgrounds, UT-24, Loa-- Western Legends Heritage and Music Festival, Friday and Saturday, 76 North Main, Kanab-- Downtown Farmer's Market, Saturdays, 8 a.m. 1 p.m., through October 24, Pioneer Park, 350 West Broadway, Salt Lake City
images/1000px_Logos/WTC_Utah_Logo.pngAccelerate your growth: Making global local with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency
Learn about working with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), current trade opportunities, and how to bid on projects in our upcoming webinar with the USTDA.
State of Utah to host virtual employment workshops for veterans, military service members and spouses
In partnership with the Utah Veterans and Military Employment Coalition, the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) is hosting a series of virtual employment workshops for Veterans, military members and their spouses.
NHMU to reopen Saturday, August 15 with an evolved museum experience
The Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU) will reopen its doors on Saturday, August 15 and the community is invited to return and experience familiar exhibitions in new ways. Since an unexpected closure in March to fight the spread of COVID-19, the museum's staff, led by newly-appointed executive director Jason Cryan, has been innovating safe and enjoyable ways for guests to return and explore the exhibits. 
Utah recognized as a leading state in new national report on data and evidence in policymaking
At a virtual event co-hosted by the National Governors Association, Results for America highlighted Utah's exemplary use of evidence and data to improve results for Utahn's. 

More National Headlines


1784 - Grigory Shelikhov, a Russian fur trader, founded the first permanent Russian settlement in Alaska on Kodiak Island.

1848 - The Oregon territory is organized by an act of Congress.

1893 - France becomes the first country to introduce motor vehicle registration.

1912 - U.S. Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after Jose Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier.

1935 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act.

1945 - Japan accepts the Allied terms of surrender in World War II.

1975The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the longest-running release in film history, opens in London.

Wise Words

Liberal Trouble

"The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so." Ronald Reagan

Lighter Side

Not Really Funny

"Yep, Trump went on and on this morning for 53 minutes. Most Americans were like, 'Hey, if we wanted to hear the president ramble about nothing for an hour, we'd watch the coronavirus briefing." - JIMMY FALLON

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