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Situational awareness - February 23, 2018

Good Friday morning from Salt Lake City. There are just 10 working days until the end of the 2018 Utah Legislature.

Poll shows Mia Love has a slight lead over Ben McAdams. Lawmakers target changes to Utah's liquor laws. Trump says arming teachers is a way to prevent gun violence in schools.

Tick Tock:

  • 13 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 14 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 20 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 25 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 57 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 64 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 123 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 255 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 339 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 985 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here's what's driving the day:

The 4th CD race is shaping up to be a close contest

Our latest poll shows Mia Love with a 6-point lead over Ben McAdams. McAdams appears to have a name ID problem among 4th District voters while Mia Love is under 50%, which is usually a sign of trouble for an incumbent [Utah Policy].

Liquor bill will get rid of the signs designating a bar or restaurant

Rep. Brad Wilson is proposing a few changes to Utah's liquor laws, including a change to the much-maligned signs that designate whether an establishment is a bar or a restaurant [Utah Policy].

Week in review

Budget surpluses, tax cuts, education spending, Mitt Romney, and guns for teachers. Bernick and Schott break down all of the big political news from the last week [Utah Policy]. The program is also available for download as a podcast so you can listen on the go [Utah Policy].

A Utah GOP disconnect?

More than a few top Republicans in the Utah Legislature say they're not too happy with the effort by some party hardliners to decide who is and who is not a Republican [Utah Policy].

Utah Republicans with another self-inflicted wound

Bob Bernick argues that the effort by some hard-line Utah Republican Party members to possibly impose a "purity test" on members is misguided and will hurt the party in the long run [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Sen. Jim Dabakis tried to prove a point about Utah's restrictive .05 blood alcohol limit by testifying during a Senate hearing after having a couple of drinks. However, he admitted that he did not drive himself to the Capitol, but rather had an intern drive him, which kind of defeated his own point [Deseret News, Tribune].

  • Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Mia Love visited legislators on Thursday, where they were asked about possible solutions to gun violence. Lee says he did not support a possible ban on the AR-15 rifle because it's difficult to distinguish the weapon from a regular hunting rifle [Deseret News]. Love said every possible solution "has to be on the table" following last week's mass shooting in Florida [Deseret News].

  • Republican Senate candidate Mitt Romney tapped Brad Crate, who served as the treasurer for the joint fundraising committees backing Donald Trump's presidential campaign, to be the treasurer of his campaign [Tribune].

  • A measure allowing some counties to remove elected officials who are mentally incapacitated is one step closer to passage after the House gave their final approval on Thursday [Deseret News, Tribune].

  • Lawmakers say the federal government is not paying the state what they really owe for the federal lands inside Utah's borders [Deseret News].

  • The House approved a ban on fundraising for the attorney general, lieutenant governor, state auditor, and state treasurer while the Legislature is in sesson. Lawmakers and the governor already have a similar ban [Deseret News].

  • A House committee killed a proposal to give paid parental leave to employees [Deseret News].

  • The Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to boost funding for poorer school districts to make them more equal to wealthier ones [Deseret News]. 

  • Sen. Todd Weiler wants county jails and the Utah Department of Corrections to report how many inmates die in custody every year [Tribune].

  • Lawmakers move forward with a plan to impose a 29-percent tax on vaping products [Deseret News].

  • The police have concluded their investigation into a possible entrapment situation involving a Utah Senator and a woman claiming to be his "date." They could not identify the woman in question [Deseret News].

  • A company proposing to build a landfill near the Great Salt Lake for out of state industrial waste abruptly put the brakes on that plan [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • A new national poll shows nearly two-thirds of Americans support stricter regulations on gun sales. Only a third of Americans approve of the way President Trump handled the Florida school shooting [CBS News].

  • President Trump floats arming some teachers, and giving them a bonus, as a way to protect schools from mass shootings [New York Times]. Teachers push back hard against the idea [New York Times].

  • An armed sheriff's deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did not enter the school during the fatal school shooting last week. The resource officer has been suspended [Washington Post].

  • NRA head Wayne LaPierre says calls for new gun restrictions is a plot to "eradicate all individual freedoms" [New York Times].

  • Conservatives gather in Washington, D.C. for the annual CPAC conference. President Trump is scheduled to address the conference on Friday [New York Times].

  • Special counsel Robert Mueller adds more charges against former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates alleging bank and tax fraud [Politico].

  • Jared Kushner reportedly will be unable to get a full security clearance while the special counsel continues to investigate the role Russia played in the 2016 election [CNN].

  • A Russian oligarch who controls the Russian mercenaries who attacked U.S. troops in Syria was in close touch with Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to and following the assault according to intercepted communications [Washington Post].

  • Missouri Republican Governor Eric Greitens was indicted on Thursday for felony invasion of privacy for taking and sharing a partially nude photo of a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair [St. Louis Post-Dispatch].

  • National Democrats target one of their own. Laura Moser is one of seven Democrats running in a Texas congressional district they're targeting this year. The Democratic congressional campaign arm released opposition research on Moser because they're afraid she's too liberal to win the seat in 2018 [Texas Tribune].

  • National security adviser H.R. McMaster and White House chief of staff John Kelly are both mulling exits from the Trump administration [Reuters].

  • Casino magnate and GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson is reportedly offering to pay for a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem [Associated Press].

  • The Trump administration is set to announce new sanctions against North Korea on Friday [Reuters].

  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the lead agency tasked with granting citizenship to new Americans, changed its mission statement, eliminating a passage that describes the U.S. as "a nation of immigrants" [The Intercept].

On this day in history:

  • 1455 - Publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed with movable type.

  • 1836 - The Siege of the Alamo begins in San Antonio, Texas.

  • 1861 - President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, D.C., after the thwarting of an alleged assassination attempt in Baltimore.

  • 1903 - Cuba leases Guantanamo Bay to the United States "in perpetuity."

  • 1945 - During the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman reach the top of Mount Suribachi and are photographed raising the American flag.