Morning must reads for Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 46th day of the year. There are 319 days remaining in 2017.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox says Republicans need to do a better job talking about the value of public lands. Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he has no plans to investigate Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia. Outdoor companies ratchet up the pressure on state leaders over support for public lands. 

The clock:

  • 13 days until President Trump is scheduled to addresses a joint session of Congress (2/28/2017)
  • 22 days until the final day of the 2017 Utah Legislature (3/9/2017)
  • 265 days until the 2017 municipal elections (11/7/2017)
  • 630 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1357 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Here are the stories making news in politics this morning:

  • Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox says Republicans have “done a terrible job” talking about public lands issues [Utah Policy]. Here’s the video of our conversation with Cox.
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he has no plans to investigate Michael Flynn, who resigned as the National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump over his ties to Russia [Utah Policy, Tribune, Deseret News].
  • Lawmakers are closing in on a plan to provide more funding for homeless programs, but there are still a few roadblocks to overcome [Utah Policy].
  • Lawmakers change, then advance a bill which seeks to end programs which limit where former felons can live [Utah Policy, Tribune].
  • A group of 30 outdoor recreation companies send a letter to Gov. Gary Herbert demanding that state leaders stand up for public lands, or they will call for the Outdoor Retailers Show to leave the state [Utah Policy, Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Phone records and intercepted calls show members of Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence officers in the year before the 2016 election [New York Times].
  • Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn was questioned by FBI agents over his contacts with Russian officials in January. President Trump was informed about the inquiry in late January [Wall Street Journal].
  • Senate President Wayne Niederhauser suggests restoring the state portion of the sales tax on food could be a solution to finding more money for public schools [Deseret News].
  • Doubts are growing that Republicans in Congress will be able to repeal ObamaCare [Politico].
  • The Office of Government Ethics sends a letter to the White House recommending disciplinary action against Kellyanne Conway after she endorsed Ivanka Trump‘s fashion line in a television interview [Wall Street Journal].
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he wants information about why President Donald Trump reviewed classified documents about a North Korean missile test in a public dining room at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida [Politico].
  • Utah lawmakers will consider legislation creating a process for removing elected officials from office due to diminished mental capacity [Deseret News].

On this day in history:

  • 1820 – American suffragist Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, Mass.
  • 1898 – The U.S. battleship Maine blew up in Havana Harbor, killing more than 260 crew members and bringing the U.S. closer to war with Spain over the issue of Cuban independence.
  • 2002 – Canadian pairs figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were awarded a gold medal to resolve a judging controversy at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.