Morning must reads for Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 116th day of the year. There are 249 days remaining in 2017.

Speaker Greg Hughes wants a special session to change how Utah fills vacancies in Congress. The Utah Legislature may investigate a questionable donation to the University of Utah. President Donald Trump backs down in the budget fight with Congress.

The clock:

  • 24 days until the Utah Republican State Convention (5/20/2017)
  • 52 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention at Weber State University (6/17/2017)
  • 195 days until the 2017 municipal elections (11/7/2017)
  • 271 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 316 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 559 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,287 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • House Speaker Greg Hughes says Gov. Gary Herbert should call a special session immediately so that the Legislature can address how Utah fills vacancies in Congress. Hughes also says he’s been approached by the Trump administration to do some work on transportation issues [Utah Policy].
  • The Utah Legislature may launch an audit or investigation into a questionable $12 million donation to the University of Utah from a wealthy L.A. doctor [Utah Policy].
  • The University of Utah reinstates Dr. Mary Beckerle as the head of the Huntsman Cancer Institute just days after she was fired [Deseret News, Tribune]. The decision and subsequent reversal reveal some deep divisions in the University of Utah’s health care system [Deseret News].
  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he will make a recommendation on whether President Trump should take action on the Bears Ears National Monument within 45 days [Tribune, Deseret News].
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz says former national security adviser Michael Flynn may have broken the law when he accepted money from Russia. However, Chaffetz defended the White House’s inability to provide any documentation about Flynn to the Oversight Committee [Tribune, Deseret News].
  • Democrat Darlene McDonald wants to take on Rep. Mia Love in Utah’s 4th CD next year. The contest would be a rarity in Utah, two black women facing off for a seat in Congress [Tribune].
  • A new ad campaign takes aim at Utahs new drunk driving law which is the toughest in the nation [Tribune].
  • Restaurants that serve alcohol will soon be required to display signs stating they are not a bar while bars will have to show a sign stating they are not a restaurant [Fox 13, Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The group that will oversee Utah’s new approach to helping the homeless is considering adding Josh Romney to their board of directors [Deseret News].
  • Utah businessman Jeremy Johnson plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment in an ongoing lawsuit from the Federal Election Commission [Tirbune].
  • President Donald Trump is rolling out his proposal to overhaul the tax code. He wants to dramatically cut the tax rate for large and small businesses [New York Times]. His plan also includes raising the standard deduction people can claim on their taxes [Washington Post].
  • President Donald Trump is backing down from his demand that Congress include funding for the border wall in a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown [Politico].
  • Moderate Republicans in Congress are pushing back against a conservative-backed proposal to replace Obamacare [Politico].
  • A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration’s plan to block federal funding for sanctuary cities [Wall Street Journal].
  • The slow pace at which President Donald Trump is filling appointed positions in the federal government is hobbling the government’s ability to function. There are 530 senior-level jobs that are still vacant [Washington Post].
  • How’s that “drainy swampy” thing working out for you? Most of President Trump’s accomplishments during his first 100 days are a direct result of help from the Washington swamp he vowed to drain [BuzzFeed].
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill to boost the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour [Washington Post].

On this day in history:

  • 1607 – An expedition of English colonists went ashore at Cape Henry, Va., to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere. (They later settled at Jamestown.)
  • 1865 – John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was surrounded and killed by federal troops near Bowling Green, Va.
  • 1986 – An explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine killed at least 31 people and sent radioactivity into the atmosphere.
  • 2000 – Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signed the nation’s first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions.