Morning must reads for Thursday, August 24, 2017

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 236th day of the year. There are 129 days remaining in 2017.

The clock:

  • 54 days until ballots for the 2017 general election are mailed to voters (10/17/2017)
  • 75 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 151 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 196 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 439 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,167 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • SCOOP: Sen. Orrin Hatch probably won’t make his future plans public until sometime in October because, according to a longtime aide, “no one is pushing” him to make a decision [Utah Policy].
  • Rep. Chris Stewart says he will “almost certainly” run to replace Hach in the Senate if the longtime politician decides to retire [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • LaVarr Webb says there are three people, Mitt Romney, UVU President Matt Holland and Rep. Chris Stewart, that Orrin Hatch would support succeeding him in the Senate [Utah Policy].
  • History is decidedly against United Utah Party nominee Jim Bennett in his quest to win November’s special congressional election [Utah Policy].
  • It could take two years for Operation Rio Grande to bring order back to the downtown Salt Lake City area [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Gov. Gary Herbert unveils a new program to provide education for Utahns to fill a growing number of technology jobs [Deseret News, Tribune]. 
  • Rep. Rob Bishop the full report on an ethics investigation of a Bureau of Land Management official who had oversight of Utah and Nevada. So far, most of that information has been redacted [Deseret News].
  • State Treasurer David Damschen is warning the public about a scam website that offers to find unclaimed property for a fee [Utah Policy, Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Several Utah legislators are considering legislation to crack down on fireworks in the state following a spike in human-caused wildfires this year [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Gun rights groups are raising the alarm over a proposed fee hike for a concealed carry permit in Utah [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Health insurers tell lawmakers they would like to bring back high-risk insurance pools as a way to control costs, but some fear it would roll back coverage for many Utahns [Deseret News].
  • A new study from Utah State University finds national monuments don’t have much of an effect on the local economy one way or the other [Tribune].
  • A new analysis finds the more politically extreme a member of Congress is, the more followers on Facebook they tend to attract [Utah Policy].

National headlines:

  • The White House will send guidance to the Pentagon on how to implement President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender soldiers serving in the military. The guidance will give military leaders six months to enforce the ban, which could include kicking transgender people out of the military and barring them from signing up in the first place [New York Times].
  • Congressional investigators have unearthed an email from a top aide to President Donald Trump that referenced an attempt to arrange a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign [CNN]. 
  • President Donald Trump reportedly clashed with several Republican senators over Russia-related matters, including a bill to keep him from lifting sanctions on Russia and a measure to prevent Trump from firing special counsel Robert Mueller [Politico].
  • President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are trying to downplay reports that their relationship is on the rocks after Trump blamed him for the failure of the GOP health care bill. Trump is also reportedly upset that McConnell has not done more to protect him from the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election [Washington Post].
  • The chances of a government shutdown over funding for President Trump’s border wall are increasing by the day as the rift between Trump and Republican leaders in Congress grows wider [New York Times]. However, House Speaker Paul Ryan throws water on the possibility of a shutdown this fall, saying Congress wants to avoid a shutdown if possible [Fox News].
  • Financial markets are beginning to get spooked by the looming deadline to raise the debt limit and President Trump’s threats to shut down the government over funding for his proposed border wall [Wall Street Journal]. 
  • New White House chief of staff John Kelly is moving to control the flow of information to President Donald Trump [Politico].
  • President Trump met with several Republicans who are considering challenging Sen. Jeff Flake for the GOP nomination next year prior to Tuesday’s rally in Phoenix. Flake is an outspoken critic of Trump [Politico].
  • Several big financial institutions are warning an economic downturn is coming [Bloomberg].
  • The Trump administration is threatening to halt some travel from four countries that are refusing to cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security on deportations of foreign nationals [Fox News].
  • Members of the media unleash their fury at President Trump after he accused them of stoking racial violence and being un-American during his campaign rally speech in Arizona on Tuesday [The Hill].
  • President Donald Trump signs a bill to speed up the appeals process for disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which should help reduce the backlog of paperwork [The Hill].
  • The White House has prepared paperwork for President Trump to pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio if he decides to do so. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for violating a court order to stop using racial profiling on suspects and faces up to six months in prison [CNN].
  • A single winning ticket for the second-largest Powerball jackpot in history was sold in Massachusetts [Washington Post].

On this day in history:

  • 79 – Mount Vesuvius erupts burying the cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae in volcanic ash. An estimated 20,000 people died.
  • 1456 – The printing of the Gutenberg Bible is completed.
  • 1814 – British troops invade Washington, D.C. and set fire to the White House, the Capitol and several other buildings. 
  • 1909 – Workers start pouring concrete for the Panama Canal.
  • 1932 – Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly across the United States non-stop from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey.
  • 1954 – The Communist Control Act goes into effect, outlawing the American Communist Party.
  • 1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as the head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
  • 1992 – Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida causing record damage.
  • 2006 – The International Astronomical Union declared that Pluto was no longer a planet, demoting it to the status of a “dwarf planet.”