Morning must reads for Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 263rd day of the year. There are 102 days remaining in 2017.

The clock:

  • 27 days until ballots for the 2017 general election are mailed to voters (10/17/2017)
  • 48 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 124 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 169 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 412 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,140 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • POLL: Nearly 3/4 of Utahns support the proposed ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. That number includes the vast majority of LDS Church members despite opposition from church leaders [Utah Policy].
  • SCOOP: The Weber County GOP wants to keep candidates who gather signatures to get on the ballot from being on the ballot at their convention. Unfortunately, that’s not legal [Utah Policy].
  • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said there’s “no question” Russia interfered in the 2016 election. He made the remarks at his confirmation hearing to become ambassador to Russia [Utah Policy, Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Utah lawmakers tour the newly created “safe space” for the homeless in downtown Salt Lake City as part of Operation Rio Grande [Deseret News].
  • Salt Lake County Council members react with mild shock at the $30 million price tag for their portion of Operation Rio Grande [Tribune].
  • A legislative committee is questioning how school districts have been able to dramatically increase teacher pay over the last year as part of an escalating “salary war” to attract and retain teachers [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Candidates vying for the 3rd Congressional District special election debate the issues in Provo [Daily Herald].
  • Former Utah Transit Authority board member Terry Diehl is asking that his upcoming criminal trial is decided by a federal judge, not a jury because jurors may be tainted by news reports about mismanagement inside the UTA [Tribune].

National headlines: 

  •  Did you buy a “Make America Great Again” hat? That money, along with other campaign contributions to the Republican National Committee, is going to pay for President Donald Trump’s legal fees in the ongoing Russia probe [Reuters].
  • President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea during his address at the United Nations on Tuesday morning [Washington Post].
  • HHS Secretary Tom Price is taking private jets instead of traveling on commercial flights for official business. The move breaks a long-standing precedent and costs taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars more than commercial travel [Politico].
  • President Donald Trump‘s campaign rally in Phoenix last month cost taxpayers $450,000 [Arizona Republic].
  • The last-ditch GOP effort to repeal Obamacare is accelerating as Congressional leaders go “all in” on passing the legislation by the September 30 deadline [The Hill].
  • Senate Democrats are considering using procedural tricks to run out the clock on the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare. Republicans have until September 30 to pass the measure with a simple majority [Politico].
  • If the Senate does manage to pass their Obamacare repeal measure, the House will be under the gun to approve the bill by the September 30 deadline, but House leaders say they are confident they’ll have the votes to approve the bill [Politico].
  • This clip is already going viral and could galvanize public opinion against the GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Late night host Jimmy Kimmel takes a brickbat to Sen. Bill Cassidy, saying he “lied to my face” about healthcare when he s, id “no family should be denied medical care because they can’t afford it.” Kimmel’s also said, “Nobody outside of your buddies in Congress wants this bill” [Axios].
  • The White House is seriously considering ditching some tax cuts for the wealthy in their proposal to overhaul the tax code. The plan would leave the top tax rate at 39.6% instead of reducing it to 35% [Washington Post].
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s office interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about President Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey [The Hill].
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team is probing Paul Manafort‘s dealings going back more than a decade as part of the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election [CNN].
  • President Donald Trump‘s polling numbers are starting to rebound after sliding to near-historic lows [Politico].
  • TV networks are taking a hard pass on offering former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer a job as a paid contributor because of his lack of credibility [NBC News].
  • The Republican Governor’s Association launched an online publication that looks like a real news outlet called The Free Telegraph. The site published positive stories about Republicans while covering Democrats negatively. The site did not disclose its partisan source until reporters inquired [Associated Press].
  • A new poll finds Democrats really like both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but they don’t want to see either run for president again [Huffington Post].
  • The death toll from Tuesday’s massive earthquake in Mexico City is more than 200 and continues to climb [Associated Press].

On this day in history:

  • 1519 – Ferdinand Magellan sets sail on his expedition to circumnavigate the globe.
  • 1881 – President Chester A. Arthur is sworn in, the morning after becoming President upon James A. Garfield’s death.
  • 1962 – James Meredith, a black man, was blocked from enrolling at the University of Mississippi by Gov. Ross R. Barnett.
  • 1973 – Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match at the Houston Astrodome.
  • 1977 – The first wave of Southeast Asian “boat people” arrived in San Francisco under a resettlement program.
  • 2001 – In an address to a joint session of Congress, President George W. Bush declares a “War on Terror.”