Morning Must Reads for Thursday, January 19, 2017

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 19th day of the year. There are 346 days remaining in 2017.

Gov. Gary Herbert gets a 63% approval rating from Utah voters. Lawmakers could make some changes to the Zion Curtain this year. Federal agencies have been investigating whether the Kremlin gave financial support to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The clock:

  • Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President tomorrow (1/20/2017)
  • 4 days until the first day of the 2017 Utah Legislature (1/23/2017)
  • 49 days until the final day of the 2017 Utah Legislature (3/9/2017)
  • 292 days until the 2017 municipal elections (11/7/2017)
  • 656 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1384 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Ten talking points for Thursday:

  1. Popularity contest. Utah voters give Gov. Gary Herbert a 63% approval rating, while nearly half say they have no idea who House Speaker Greg Hughes is [Utah Policy].
  2. Budget and booze. Sen. Jerry Stevenson says 2017 will be a difficult budget year, but he thinks there’s some room for lawmakers to address liquor policy, the so-called Zion Curtain in particular [Utah Policy]. Here’s the video of our interview with Stevenson [Utah Policy].
  3. Whoa! The FBI and five other federal agencies have been investigating for months whether the Kremlin covertly gave financial aid to Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign [McClatchy DC].
  4. Wait, what? Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Donald Trump‘s nominee for Energy Secretary, initially thought the job meant he was going to be a global ambassador for the oil and gas industry [New York Times].
  5. Closed-door meeting. Rep. Jason Chaffetz will meet next week in private with Walter Shaub, the head of the Office of Governmental Ethics. Chaffetz requested the meeting after Shaub publicly disparaged President-elect Donald Trump’s ethics (or lack thereof) [Politico]. American Fork lawyer Damian Kidd says he’s mulling challenging Chaffetz for the GOP nomination in 2018 because Chaffetz is more interested in promoting himself than doing his job [Tribune].
  6. Double whoa! A scathing audit of the Unified Fire Authority found former Chief Michael Jensen, who is a Salt Lake County councilman, misused public funds. There is a real possibility that the audit could lead to felony charges against Jensen and his former deputy [Utah Policy, Deseret News, Tribune].
  7. School funding fight. Lawmakers again sound the alarm over a proposed income tax hike to raise more money for Utah’s schools, saying the legislative budgeting process is a better way to accomplish that goal [Deseret News].
  8. Polygamy legislation. Utah polygamists plot their opposition to proposed legislation that seeks to clarify that polygamy is a felony in Utah [Tribune].
  9. Economic news. Utah economic analysts say the state’s economy should continue to expand during the next year [Deseret News].
  10. It’s getting hot in here. 2016 was officially the hottest year on record since record keeping began in 1880 [CNN].

On this day in history:

  • 1861 – Georgia seceded from the Union.
  • 1955 – A presidential news conference was filmed for TV for the first time, with the permission of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • 1966 – Indira Gandhi was elected prime minister of India.
  • 1979 – Former Attorney General John Mitchell was released on parole after serving 19 months in federal prison for Watergate-related crimes.