Morning Must Reads for Wednesday, January 11, 2016

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 11th day of the year. There are 354 days remaining in 2017.

Utahns give Sen. Orrin Hatch a 46% approval rating. “Our Schools Now” says they couldn’t wait any longer for lawmakers to step up and fund schools. Intelligence officials address unconfirmed reports Russia may have compiled embarrassing information on Donald Trump.

The clock:

  • 9 days until Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President (1/20/2017)
  • 12 days until the first day of the 2017 Utah Legislature (1/23/2017)
  • 57 days until the final day of the 2017 Utah Legislature (3/9/2017)
  • 300 days until the 2017 municipal elections (11/7/2017)
  • 664 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1392 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Ten talking points for Wednesday:

  1. Hatch approval rating. Sen. Orrin Hatch gets a 46% approval rating from Utahns, which means he could have some work to do if he plans to run for a seventh term in 2018 [Utah Policy].
  2. Not willing to wait for it. Nolan Karras of the “Our Schools Now” group says they don’t think Utah lawmakers or Gov. Gary Herbert have the political will to significantly boost funding for Utah’s public schools, which is why they’re taking the question directly to the ballot [Utah Policy]. Here’s the video of our full interview with Karras [Utah Policy].
  3. Bombshell rumors. Donald Trump, President Barack Obama and key members of congress have been briefed by intelligence leaders about unsubstantiated reports that Russia has compiled compromising information on Trump and that his campaign traded information with Russia during the presidential campaign. Trump fired back calling the allegations “fake news” [Politico]. For what it’s worth, Russia claims that they don’t have any embarrassing information about Trump [Wall Street Journal]. If you’re feeling brave (trust us, some of the information in the report is very NSFW), you can read the alleged report here [BuzzFeed]. The allegations add another level of intrigue to Trump’s first press conference in months scheduled for Wednesday morning [Politico].
  4. “Yes, we did.” President Barack Obama delivers his farewell address in Chicago, urging his supporters to push back against toxic political rhetoric [Politico].
  5. Confirmation battle. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump‘s pick for Attorney General, pushed back against charges he holds racist views during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday [Wall Street Journal]. Sen. Orrin Hatch says Democratic efforts to stop Sessions being confirmed will fail [Tribune].
  6. Tillerson faces Congress. Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is expected to say Russia is a “danger” during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday. The statement is surprising as Tillerson cultivated deep ties with Russia during his time as CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. [Bloomberg].
  7. Expectations vs. reality. Donald Trump wants Congress to repeal Obamacare and adopt a replacement within days of him taking office [New York Times]. Congressional Republicans are freaking out a little trying to figure out how to accomplish that [Politico]. 
  8. Outdoor Retailers brouhaha. Peter Metcalf, co-founder of Black Diamond, says the annual Outdoor Retailers Show should move away from Utah because of the opposition to the new Bears Ears Monument from Utah political leaders. Metcalf also blasted the “all-out assault” on public lands coming from the Utah Legislature. Gov. Gary Herbert pushed back against Metcalf, saying Utah has “always been a public lands state” [Deseret News, Tribune].
  9. Ensuring testimony. Kent Torgensen, the former Chief Deputy Utah Attorney General, was arrested in Florida Monday night and brought to Utah to ensure he will testify in the upcoming public corruption trial of former Utah Attorney General John Swallow. Torgensen was released after a short hearing [Deseret News, Tribune].
  10. Anti-LDS ads. A TV ad campaign targeting the LDS Church’s tax-exempt status, led by prominent gay-rights activist Fred Karger, will start hitting the airwaves in Utah this week [Tribune, Deseret News].

On this day in history:

  • 1785 – The Continental Congress convened in New York City.
  • 1861 – Alabama seceded from the United States.
  • 1935 – Aviator Amelia Earhart completed the first solo flight ever made between the Hawaiian Islands and the American mainland.
  • 1964 – Surgeon General Luther Terry released a report saying smoking cigarettes is a definite “health hazard.”