Morning must reads for Thursday, May 25, 2017

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 145th day of the year. There are 220 days remaining in 2017. Today is the 126th day of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Orrin Hatch is reportedly leaning toward retiring from the Senate in 2018. It’s gonna cost big bucks to get on the ballot via signature gathering. A Montana congressional candidate assaults a reporter.

The clock:

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

  • 82 days until the 2017 Utah primary election (8/15/2017)

  • 166 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)

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

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

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

  • 1,258 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • SCOOP: Sources say Sen. Orrin Hatch is leaning toward retiring from Congress at the end of his current term, with an announcement coming sometime this fall. We’re also told former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is very interested in running for Hatch’s seat if he steps down [Utah Policy].
  • It could cost a candidate around $100,000 to gather the 7,000 signatures required to get on the ballot in the special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz [Utah Policy].
  • SB54 could do exactly what it was designed to do during the special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, allowing candidates to bypass the delegates on the way to the ballot. That may be a bridge too far for some Utah Republicans [Utah Policy].
  • The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the Obamacare replacement bill passed by the House last month would cause 23 million people to lose their insurance while reducing the budget by $119 billion in 2026 [Washington Post]. The CBO report also shows insurance premiums would skyrocket for younger and older policyholders. It also shows people with preexisting conditions could be priced out of the insurance market [Axios].
  • Greg Gianforte, a Republican congressional candidate for a special election in Montana, has been charged with assault after he allegedly “body slammed” reporter Ben Jacobs who was asking him about the GOP healthcare bill [New York Times]. Here’s audio of the incident [YouTube]. A Fox News team witnessed part of the attack and said Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck and began punching him [Fox News]. 
  • Top Russian officials discussed how they might exert influence over Donald Trump through two of his advisers, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn [New York Times].
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had with Russian officials on his application for a security clearance [CNN].
  • Police in the UK are no longer sharing information about this week’s terrorist attack in Manchester with their American counterparts after some of that information was leaked to the media [BBC].
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wants Congress to raise the debt limit before lawmakers leave for their summer recess [Wall Street Journal].
  • Newly elected GOP chairman Rob Anderson says the party’s finances are “in shambles” with much more debt than previously thought. The party still hasn’t paid the rent for May on their office and had to lay off a staff on Wednesday because of debt [KUTV]. Anderson says he plans to “stay the course” on the party’s lawsuit against SB54, but he’s hoping to work out a new compromise with the legislature [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he’s leaving Congress next month to avoid catching “Potomac fever” which he says keeps people in Washington far longer than they should be [CNN].
  • Provo Mayor John Curtis is jumping into the race for Utah’s soon-to-be open congressional seat [Daily Herald].
  • Rep. Rob Bishop is considering legislation that would require the federal government to “adequately” consult with local authorities before implementing any federal land management laws [E&E News].
  • A new legal study says a president does not have the power to undo a national monument created by one of their predecessors. That’s important because of the continuing battle over what will happen to the Bears Ears National Monument [Tribune].
  • A Montana-based government watchdog group is suing the Interior Department to obtain documents about national monuments created under President Obama to determine how much public input played a part in the decision-making process [Tribune].
  • The Utah Transit Authority is moving forward on a controversial development project in Clearfield. The deal would sell land to Clearfield City who would then sell the land at a discounted price to a Swiss company that manufactures rail cars [Tribune].

On this day in history:

  • 1787 – The Constitutional Convention was convened in Philadelphia.
  • 1925 – John Scopes was arrested for teaching the theory of evolution in a Tennessee high school, leading to a trial that became a media sensation. Scopes was convicted and fined $100; the conviction was later overturned.
  • 1961 – President John F. Kennedy asked the nation to work toward putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
  • 1977 – “Star Wars” was released in theaters.