Morning must reads for Thursday, October 5, 2017

 Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 278th day of the year. There are 87 days remaining in 2017.

The clock:

  • 12 days until ballots for the 2017 general election are mailed to voters (10/17/2017)
  • 33 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 109 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 154 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 397 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,125 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • ANALYSISHillary Clinton won six Utah House districts currently held by Republicans, but that may not mean trouble for the GOP because of the McMullin factor. BTW – Evan McMullin managed to win a plurality in one House district [Utah Policy].
  • House Speaker Greg Hughes says he and Gov. Gary Herbert lobbied HHS Secretary Tom Price to grant the state’s request for Medicaid waivers on the same day he was forced to resign because of his use of private aircraft for travel [Utah Policy].
  • Brian Steed, Rep. Chris Stewart‘s chief of staff, has been appointed to a job with the BLM [Utah Policy].
  • Critics of the use of the Antiquities Act, including Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Rob Bishop, speak in Washington, D.C. against the use of that process to create national monuments [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Rob Bishop wants records of all travel by former interior secretaries back to the beginning of the Obama administration in an effort to prove that current Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke did not err in his use of private aircraft for travel [Tribune].
  • Utah lawmakers are eyeing a new fee for alternative fuel cars based on how many miles they drive [Deseret News].
  • The governors of seven western states, including Utah, formalize a plan to develop electric vehicle charging infrastructure along major roadways [Utah PolicyDeseret NewsTribune].
  • Legislators are skeptical of a proposal to double the tolls on I-15 express lanes in order to reduce congestion [Tribune].
  • A grand jury slaps former UTA board member Terry Diehl with an indictment alleging tax evasion [Tribune].
  • Utah’s water levels are at or above normal, giving forecasters hope that the state may get a break from the persistent drought gripping the state [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • Republican members of Congress say they may be open to banning “bump stocks,” which were used in the Las Vegas massacre to allow the shooter to employ a rate of fire similar to that of an automatic weapon [New York Times].
  • The House is set to pass their budget proposal on Thursday, which will pave the way for work on tax reform [Associated Press].
  • Angry GOP donors are cutting off funds to Republican members of Congress because of their inability to get anything done, raising the specter that they could lose the House in the 2018 elections [Politico].
  • A new Economist/YouGov survey finds most Americans see President Donald Trump as a weak leader and don’t want him to run again for another term in 2020 [Roll Call].
  • Congressional investigators say they still can’t rule out the possibility that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence groups during the 2016 campaign [Reuters].
  • Las Vegas:
    • Investigators still are searching for clues that may give them an indication as to the motive of the shooter who mowed down concertgoers on Sunday night [Associated Press].
    • Here’s a timeline of how he planned and carried out the deadliest mass shooting in American history [Los Angeles Times].
    • Police say the gunman had an elaborate plan to escape after the attacks that suggests he may have had help in planning the assault. He also left behind a note that officials say was not a suicide note [CNN].
    • President Donald Trump visits survivors of Sunday night’s attacks in Las Vegas on Wednesday [Associated Press].
    • The girlfriend of the Las Vegas gunman tells investigators she had no indication that he was planning the horrific attack [Washington Post].
    • The gunman was well known to casino officials in Las Vegas, often betting $100 per hand on video poker. Because of his high-roller status, he was staying for free in the suite of hotel rooms from which he launched his deadly attack on Sunday night [New York Times]. 
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pledged his loyalty to President Trump after reports surfaced he called Trump a “moron” this summer, but it may not be enough to save his job [Washington Post].
  • Facebook is beginning to push back against allegations they turned a blind eye to Russia’s use of the social media platform to interfere in the 2016 election [Axios].
  • Questions are growing as to whether Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been mixing his official travel with political events after documents show he has met with donors or political groups while on official trips for the Interior Department [Politico].
  • Tone deaf. The IRS is defending their decision to award a $7.25 million, no-bid contract to Equifax following the massive data breach that compromised the personal data of up to 145 million Americans [Politico].
  • Federal watchdogs say the IRS may have targeted liberal-leaning groups for extra scrutiny between 2004 and 2013, which may undermine claims that conservative groups were unfairly targeted during the Obama administration [Washington Post].
  • Three U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers were ambushed and killed in Niger on Wednesday during a training mission [New York Times].

On this day in history:

  • 1582 – Because of the implementation of the Gregorian calendar this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain.
  • 1947 – The first televised White House address is given by President Harry Truman.
  • 1962 – The Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do,” is released in the United Kingdom.
  • 1982 – Johnson & Johnson initiates a nationwide recall in the U.S. for all products in its Tylenol brand after several bottles in Chicago are found to have been laced with cyanide, resulting in seven deaths.