Morning must reads for Thursday, September 21, 2017

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 264th day of the year. There are 101 days remaining in 2017.

The clock:

  • 26 days until ballots for the 2017 general election are mailed to voters (10/17/2017)
  • 47 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 123 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 168 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 411 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,139 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • POLL: A majority of Utahns support getting rid of the caucus/convention system for nominating candidates and moving to the signature gathering/direct primary route exclusively [Utah Policy].
  • ANALYSIS: Democratic congressional candidate Kathie Allen is at 19% right now, but that’s underperforming for a Democrat in CD3 [Utah Policy].
  • Utah lawmakers make quick work of two bills as part of Operation Rio Grande. Legislators tell that they insisted on a two-year lease closing down parts of Rio Grande Street to prevent Salt Lake City officials from attempting to re-negotiate the lease in a year [Utah Policy].
  • Rep. Chris Stewart‘s office quickly deleted a Tweet that mocked liberals as pants wetters for their reaction to President Donald Trump‘s speech at the U.N. [Utah Policy].
  • Lawmakers advanced a bill to create a mechanism for removing mentally incapacitated elected officials from office [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Utah lawmakers approved a financial settlement in a legal battle over faulty construction on the Timpanogos highway [Deseret News].
  • GOP Rep. Tim Quinn says he will sponsor legislation in 2018 to completely eliminate the state sales tax on food [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Legislators are considering a series of bills next year to create a new statewide mental health crisis hotline [Deseret News].
  • It could cost more next year for drivers’ licenses and concealed carry permits under legislation under consideration for the 2018 session [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Ray Ward wants Utahns covered by Medicaid to be able to get an IUD implanted while they are in the hospital to give birth [Deseret News].
  • State officials say they expect more than 200 beds to be available for drug treatment to be available by the end of the year for Operation Rio Grande [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Paul Ray is raising concerns about a new screening process for bail that the state court system will implement in November [Tribune].
  • The Salt Lake City Airport Advisory Board gives their stamp of approval for a plan to build a street-level TRAX extension to the new airport terminal. The change from a proposed elevated track will shave approximately $50 million off the cost [Tribune].
  • Rep. Chris Stewart says he doesn’t think North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is insane, but he is a growing threat to the United States [Deseret News].

National headlines:

  • That’s not suspicious at all! Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort offered to provide private briefings about the campaign to a Russian billionaire with strong ties to the Kremlin [Washington Post].
  • This is also not suspicious at all! Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort used a campaign email account to correspond with a Ukranian political operative with suspected ties to the Russian government [Politico].
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s office is asking the White House for a whole slew of documents about President Donald Trump‘s activities. There are so many requests that White House lawyers have divided them into 13 categories [Washington Post].
  • Robert Mueller is asking the White House for documents related to President Trump’s firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn and former FBI Director James Comey [New York Times].
  • Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer reportedly kept such copious notes during his time in the Trump administration that he could be a juicy target for Robert Mueller‘s investigation [Axios].
  • The Senate could vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal Obamacare next week. They have until September 30 to pass it with a simple majority [Politico].
  • A new analysis of the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill says states will lose hundreds of billions in federal health care dollars and tens of millions of Americans would lose coverage [Los Angeles Times].
  • Democrats are mobilizing to stop Graham-Cassidy as the left is on a “full war footing” to defeat the bill [Politico].
  • President Donald Trump wants to revisit the nuclear agreement with Iran to find ways to strengthen it instead of scrapping the deal as he previously threatened [New York Times].
  • Congressional Democrats want an investigation into HHS Secretary Tom Price‘s use of private planes for travel instead of commercial flights [Politico].
  • North Korea’s foreign minister described President Donald Trump‘s threats to “totally destroy” that country as “the sound of a dog barking” [Associated Press].
  • Late night host Jimmy Kimmel escalated his fight against Sen. Bill Cassidy‘s attempt to repeal Obamacare saying “He either doesn’t understand his own bill, or he lied to me” [Hollywood Reporter].

On this day in history:

  • 1776 – Part of New York City is burned shortly after being occupied by British forces.
  • 1780 – Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point.
  • 1792 – The National Convention declares France a republic and abolishes the absolute monarchy.
  • 1897 – The New York Sun ran an editorial answering a question from an 8-year-old girl that included the line, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
  • 1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is unanimously approved by the Senate as the first female Supreme Court justice.
  • 1983 – Interior Secretary James Watt described a special advisory panel as consisting of “a black…a woman, two Jews, and a cripple.” Watt later apologized and resigned.
  • 1998 – President Bill Clinton’s videotaped grand jury testimony in the Monica Lewinsky scandal was publicly broadcast, showing him answering one question from prosecutors by saying, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”