Daily Briefing 10-26-17

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 299th day of the year. There are 66 days remaining in 2017.

The clock:

  • 12 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 88 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 133 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 376 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,104 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • Bob Bernick profiles Mark Thomas, the new chief of staff for the Utah Senate [Utah Policy].
  • Sen. Mike Lee says in a televised interview that he’s “certain” President Donald Trump has lied, but he doesn’t think that should distract conservatives from accomplishing their policy goals [Utah Policy].
  • President Trump’s voter fraud commission is gathering data on Americans, but security experts say it’s unlikely they’ll be able to keep that personal information safe [Utah Policy].
  • The Utah Transit Authority adopts a tentative budget for next year that includes borrowing $88.5 million, even though the agency has $2 billion in debt. One out of every three dollars the UTA spends goes toward debt service right now [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • Count My Vote organizers will hold a series of public hearings on their proposed ballot initiative to end the convention system for nominating candidates in favor of direct primaries [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • A group of conservative state lawmakers are launching an effort to abolish the death penalty. The group includes former Utah legislator Steve Urquhart [Tribune].
  • Federal prosecutors drop another criminal charge against former Utah Transit Authority board member Terry Diehl [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • Utah County has the highest rental rates in the state according to a new study [Daily Herald].
  • Leaders in Western states argue that management of the greater sage grouse should be left to individual states instead of the federal government [Deseret News].

National headlines:

  • Cambridge Analytica, the data firm used by the Trump campaign during the 2016 campaign, contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assangeseeking access to thousands of Hillary Clinton‘s emails kept on a private server while she was secretary of state [CNN].
  • As Congressional Republicans push forward with their tax reform plan, but there are six issues that could derail that effort [Politico].
  • A group of Republicans are threatening to derail the tax reform effort if a plan to get rid of the state and local tax deduction is included [CNN].
  • Republicans shouldn’t expect any help from Democrats on tax reform. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says if the GOP crashes and burns on this issue, it will likely flip the house to Democratic control [Politico].
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden says he’s not ruling out a run for president in 2020 [ABC News].
  • President Donald Trump will declare the opioid crisis as a public health crisis on Thursday but will stop short of declaring it a national emergency [USA Today].
  • Retiring Sen. Jeff Flake says he won’t be “vindictive” toward President Trump’s agenda in Congress, even though the two men have serious differences [Politico].
  • President Donald Trump lashes out at Flake on Twitter following his announcement that he won’t run again in 2018 [ABC News].
  • A record number of Americans support legalizing marijuana in the U.S., including a majority of Republicans [Gallup].
  • President Donald Trump is changing the GOP and his critics have two choices – either give in or give up  [New York Times].
  • Allies of Sen. Mitch McConnell are starting to openly attack former White House strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon is hoping to oust McConnell as Senate Majority Leader in 2018 [Washington Post].
  • The final batch of secret documents from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy will be released on Thursday [New York Times].
  • Fishy! in 2014 President Donald Trump‘s longtime business associate Michael Cohen sold four New York buildings to anonymous buyers for millions of dollars in cash. Experts say the transactions raise red flags because they could be part of a money-laundering scheme [McClatchy].
  • Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is in negotiations with Sinclair Broadcasting to host a new show. Sinclair owns nearly 200 TV stations across the country [NBC News].
  • Five women have accused prominent journalist Mark Halperin of sexual harassment [CNN].
  • Ready to give Amazon.com the ability to open your front door while you’re not home? [Recode]
  • A record number of retail stores have closed during 2017 [CNN Money].

On this day in history:

  • 1774 -The first Continental Congress adjourns in Philadelphia.
  • 1775 – King George III of Great Britain goes before Parliament to declare the American colonies in rebellion, and authorizes a military response.
  • 1776 – Benjamin Franklin departs America for France on a mission to seek French support for the American Revolution.
  • 1825 – The Erie Canal, America’s first man-made waterway, was opened, linking the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River.
  • 1861 – The Pony Express officially ceases operations.
  • 1881 – The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral takes place at Tombstone, Arizona.
  • 1936 – The first electric generator at Hoover Dam goes into full operation.
  • 2001 – Congress passes the USA PATRIOT Act into law.