Morning must reads for Thursday, May 4, 2017

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 124th day of the year. There are 241 days remaining in 2017. Today is the 105th day of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Utahns give Evan McMullin good favorability ratings. House Republicans say they have the votes to pass their Obamacare repeal. Anthony Kennedy may step down this summer, giving Donald Trump another Supreme Court appointment.

The clock:

  • 16 days until the Utah Republican State Convention (5/20/2017)

  • 44 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention at Weber State University (6/17/2017)

  • 187 days until the 2017 municipal elections (11/7/2017)

  • 263 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)

  • 308 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)

  • 551 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)

  • 1,279 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • NEW POLL: Utahns give former independent candidate Evan McMullin mostly favorable ratings. That’s important because he is weighing running for Rep. Jason Chaffetz‘s seat when he ultimately steps down [Utah Policy].
  • LaVarr Webb says Gov. Gary Herbert has a distinct advantage in the fight over whether to change the rules for a special election if Rep. Jason Chaffetz resigns from Congress early [Utah Policy].
  • Utah Democrats are running to cozy up to Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ political agenda. That may not work out for them the way they think [Utah Policy].
  • Congressional Republicans say they have enough votes to pass their Obamacare repeal bill on Thursday [New York Times].
  • Republicans are rushing to vote on the bill without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to score the legislation [The Hill].
  • Moderate Republicans got an additional $8 billion for high-risk insurance pools inserted in the health care legislation. That may be enough to get some Republicans who are on the fence to vote for the bill [Politico].
  • If the health care bill passes the House on Thursday, it still faces a rocky road in the Senate. Sen. Orrin Hatch will be a key player in getting the legislation through the upper chamber [Roll Call].
  • Rumors are swirling that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is preparing to retire this summer after 29 years on the court. Kennedy has been a crucial swing vote on the high court for more than a decade, often siding with liberal justices [Associated Press].
  • President Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order on Thursday that will loosen restrictions on political activity by religious organizations [Wall Street Journal].
  • FBI Director James Comey says he’s “mildly nauseous” that his decision to notify Congress about new emails in the Hillary Clinton investigation just days before the Election Day could have swayed the result, but he would not do anything different [New York Times].
  • The House GOP is considering fast-tracking $500 billion in spending cuts, which includes reductions in Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits and food stamps [Bloomberg].
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz says Congress plans to target former President Obama’s pension after news broke he is getting paid $400,000 for a post-presidential speech [Deseret News].
  • Tribal leaders say they plan to sue the White House if President Donald Trump rescinds the Bears Ears National Monument [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Chris Stewart unveil legislation to create a national 3-digit suicide prevention hotline similar to the 9-1-1 emergency number [Deseret News].
  • James Singer, a Navajo, Mormon Democrat is jumping into the 2018 race to challenge for the seat held by Sen. Orrin Hatch [Tribune].
  • Utah is just one of three states that does not spell out in statute how a special election to fill an open seat in Congress should be conducted [Deseret News].
  • Geronimo Guiterrez, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., visited Utah this week and said relations between the two countries are at a critical juncture [Tribune].
  • A new report says Utah employers are having trouble finding skilled workers to fill open jobs [Utah Policy, Deseret News].
  • Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth‘s husband, will step down from public life this fall. He turns 96 years old next month [BBC].

On this day in history:

  • 1494 – On his second expedition to the New World, Columbus discovered Jamaica.
  • 1626 – Dutch explorer Peter Minuit landed on what is now Manhattan.
  • 1886 – A labor demonstration for an eight-hour workday at Haymarket Square in Chicago turned into a riot when a bomb exploded.
  • 1904 – Construction began on the Panama Canal.
  • 1970 – Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on anti-war protesters at Kent State University, killing four students and wounding nine.