Morning must reads for Thursday, February 23, 2017

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 54th day of the year. There are 311 days remaining in 2017.

The group pushing a tax hike to pay for schools plans to stick around for a while. Lawmakers pump the brakes on some parts of their tax plan.

The clock:

  • 14 days until the final day of the 2017 Utah Legislature (3/9/2017)
  • 257 days until the 2017 municipal elections (11/7/2017)
  • 333 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 378 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 622 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1349 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Here are the stories making news in politics this morning:

  • SCOOP! The organizers of “Our Schools Now” say they will bring back their ballot initiative to raise taxes for Utah public schools in 2020 if they fail in 2018. They also are exploring possibly pushing for a sales tax boost instead of an income tax hike [Utah Policy].
  • Lawmakers are backing off income tax changes this year but still plan to push forward with reinstating the state portion of sales tax on food [Utah Policy, Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch says he believes President Donald Trump will take action on overturning the Bears Ears monument [Utah Policy, Tribune, Deseret News]. Here’s a podcast of our conversation with Hatch [Utah Policy].
  • Sen. Jim Dabakis‘ plan to raise taxes on wealthy Utahns to increase school funding dies a quick death [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • A House committee resurrects a bill allowing Utahns to carry concealed weapons without a permit. The bill also includes protections against domestic violence. The move came without much notice [Tribune, Deseret News].
  • The Trump administration rescinds rules allowing transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. The decision was opposed by Secretary of Eduction Betsy DeVos [New York Times].
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wants Congress to act on tax reform by the end of the summer. He also set a goal of economic growth of 3%, which is a rate that hasn’t been seen in more than a decade [Wall Street Journal].
  • President Donald Trump‘s disapproval ratings keep rising. A new Quinnipiac University poll gives trump a 38% approval rating while 55% of Americans disapprove [Politico].
  • President Donald Trump‘s campaign staffers said they were able to keep him off Twitter by making sure his media diet included a “steady stream of praise.” If that wasn’t available, they would reach out to friendly media outlets to get them to play ball [Politico].
  • The Utah Transit Authority adopts new bylaws to ensure their meetings are open to the public [Tribune]. North Odgen Mayor Brent Taylor was finally allowed to take a seat on the UTA Board. He claimed he was blocked because he promised to push for reforms for the organization, but officials counter it was because his father works as a train operator for the agency [Tribune].

On this day in history:

  • 1836 – The siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio, Texas.
  • 1945 – U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima captured Mount Suribachi and raised the American flag. The moment was captured in a Pulitzer Prize winning photo.
  • 1991 – President George H.W. Bush announced that the allied ground offensive against Iraqi forces had begun.
  • 1995 – The Dow Jones industrial average closed at more than 4,000 for the first time — at 4,003.33.