Morning must reads for Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 241st day of the year. There are 124 days remaining in 2017.

The clock:

  • 49 days until ballots for the 2017 general election are mailed to voters (10/17/2017)
  • 70 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 146 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 191 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 434 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,162 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch has some daunting poll numbers to overcome if he plans to run for another term in Washington [Utah Policy].
  • Lawmakers are planning legislation to wrestle powers away from the governor’s office, including the ability to call themselves into special session [Utah Policy].
  • Rep. Rob Bishop says his next term in Congress will be his last [Utah Policy].
  • State leaders peg the cost of Operation Rio Grande at $67 million over the next two years. Although most of that money is already available, there’s still a $21 million funding gap that will have to be filled [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The confirmation hearing for former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to become Donald Trump‘s ambassador to Russia could take place as soon as next month [Deseret News].
  • The state reaches a deal with Rocky Mountain Power on the future of solar power in Utah. The compromise limits the amount of money new solar customers are paid for the extra electricity they generate [Utah Policy, Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Some members of the Salt Lake County Council are trying to block a funding shift that would send $4.7 million to the new Hale Center Theater in Sandy. The money had already been approved by the council [Tribune].
  • Former Utah GOP Chair Thomas Wright has been elected to a top slot on the Republican National Committee [Tribune].
  • White nationalist posters appear on the campus of Weber State University [Deseret News].
  • The University of Utah is holding three public meetings as part of the process to search for a new university president [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • LaVarr Webb argues that President Donald Trump‘s pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio isn’t as controversial as pardons granted by some of his predecessors [Utah Policy].

National headlines:

  • Rain continues to fall on Houston exacerbating the flooding that has already crippled the city. Local, state, and federal officials are warning the recovery from Hurricane Harvey could take years [New York Times]. Recovery workers are fearful that the death toll from Harvey will rise dramatically once the waters recede [Associated Press].
  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating if President Donald Trump tried to hide the purpose of a meeting between Russians and his son Donald Jr. when he personally helped to craft a less than truthful response to media reports about that meeting [NBC News].
  • One of Donald Trump‘s top business associates said a proposed 2015 real estate deal in Russia would help Trump win the presidency by highlighting his negotiating skills. Felix Sater boasted in a series of emails to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this,” wrote Sater [New York Times].
  • Michael Cohen, a top executive with Trump’s real estate company, emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s personal spokesperson during the presidential election asking for help pushing forward a stalled development project in Moscow. The email establishes a link between Trump’s businesses and the Kremlin [Washington Post].
  • A Republican member of Congress is proposing an amendment to stop funding Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election after 180 days. The proposal also would block Mueller from looking into any matters prior to Donald Trump announcing his presidential bid in 2015 [The Hill].
  • A missile launched from North Korea flies over Japan, which has escalated tensions in that part of the world [Associated Press].
  • Congress would have to cut $65 billion from the Pentagon’s budget unless they can come to some sort of compromise to get around the 2011 Budget Control Act [Bloomberg].
  • The ACLU is suing President Donald Trump over his decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military [The Hill].

On this day in history:

  • 1786 – Shays’ Rebellion, an armed uprising of Massachusetts farmers, begins in response to high debt and tax burdens.
  • 1877 – Brigham Young, the second president of the LDS Church, died in Salt Lake City at the age of 76.
  • 1949 – The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, known as First Lightning or Joe 1, in Kazakhstan.
  • 1966 – The Beatles perform their final concert before paying fans in San Francisco.
  • 2005 – Hurricane Katrina devastates must of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida. The storm killed more than 1,800 people and caused $108 billion in damage.