Daily Briefing 10-18-17


Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 291st day of the year. There are 74 days remaining in 2017.

The clock:

  • 20 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 96 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 141 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 384 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,112 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • Legislators are looking at suing Attorney General Sean Reyes to force him to release a legal opinion about the special election process set by Gov. Gary Herbert. The Legislature originally asked Reyes to give them an opinion on the election, but Herbert blocked it claiming attorney-client privilege [Utah Policy].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch raised nearly $1 million during the last fundraising quarter, which gives him more than $4.5 million of campaign cash in the bank. His primary Democratic challenger, Jenny Wilson, raised about 1/9th of what Hatch pulled in [Utah Policy].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch‘s office says his eyesight is declining following a medical procedure 18 months ago. However, they say the Senator is otherwise in excellent health [Utah Policy].
  • Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski details a new policy on releasing police body cam footage to the public [Utah PolicyDeseret NewsTribune].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch says he’s “disappointed” that Rep. Tom Marino withdrew as President Trump’s nominee to become the administration’s drug czar following a Washington Post article that said Marino and Hatch were responsible for passing a bill that weakened the DEA’s ability to combat the opioid crisis. Hatch has been very vocal about what he claims are flaws in that report [Deseret News].
  • Utah finished the previous fiscal year with a $26 million budget surplus [Tribune].
  • Advocates for ending the death penalty say they’ll make another effort to get lawmakers to ditch capital punishment in 2018 [Tribune].
  • The state will need to spend $40 million upgrading existing Olympic facilities if Utah wants to host the Winter Games again [Tribune].
  • Utah spent $80 million combatting homelessness in 2016 according to a legislative audit. That number is $10 million more than last year and $20 million more than 2014 [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • A Legislative audit says the University of Utah did not follow state law when it awarded a $10 million contract to an outside group working on the Utah Population Database [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • The Salt Lake City Council has canceled the Twilight Concert Series for 2018 [Deseret NewsTribune].

National headlines:

  • Two Senators have crafted a deal to fund subsidies to health insurers President Trump has moved to cut off [New York Times].
  • It took President Trump 12 days to reach out to the families of four U.S. Special Forces soldiers who were killed in Niger. As he was taking heat for the delay, Trump tried to make the issue a political one by taking a swipe at former President Obama [Washington Post]. 
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team has interviewed former White House press secretary Sean Spicer as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election [Politico].
  • Here’s how Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, funded the “troll factory” that wreaked havoc online during the 2016 election [CNN].
  • A new national poll says nearly half of Americans believe that the media makes up stories about Donald Trump [Politico].
  • White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney says tax reform may slip into 2018 if Congress can’t pass a budget resolution this week [Bloomberg].
  • An internal White House document alleges that a weakened manufacturing base leads to more abortion, divorce and domestic violence. The document was making the rounds while the Trump administration was preparing to renegotiate NAFTA and threatening to withdraw from other trade agreements. The assertions contained in the document were presented without data to back them up [Washington Post].
  • The Trump administration is pushing for an increase in federal immigration jails to hold the thousands of undocumented immigrants ICE agents are arresting [USA Today].
  • Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is hitting up big GOP donors to help fund his effort to primary sitting Republican Senators [Politico].
  • NFL owners will not penalize players for kneeling during the national anthem [New York Times].
  • The National Archives have been warning the Trump administration to follow document preservation laws [Politico].

On this day in history:

  • 1648 – Boston Shoemakers form the first American labor organization.
  • 1776 – The border between Maryland and Pennsylvania was established. Dubbed the “Mason-Dixon” line, it became the unofficial boundary between North and South.
  • 1851 – Moby-Dick by Herman Melville was published.
  • 1867 – The United States takes possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million.
  • 1898 – The United States takes possession of Puerto Rico from Spain.
  • 1974 – The jury in the Watergate cover-up trial heard a tape recording in which U.S. President Richard Nixon told aide John Dean to try to stop the Watergate burglary investigation before it implicated White House personnel.