Situational awareness – December 20, 2017

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City.

Utahns are solidly behind a plan to legalize medical marijuana. Congressional Republicans near the finish line with their tax plan. Congress races to fund the government before it runs out of money on Friday.

Tick tock:

  • 13 days until candidates can declare their intent to gather signatures for the 2018 election (1/2/2018)
  • 33 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 78 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 79 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 85 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 90 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 122 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 129 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 188 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 321 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,049 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

An overwhelming number of Utahns support legalizing medical marijuana

73% of Utahns say they are in favor of a proposed ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. That number includes 61% of “very active” Mormons [Utah Policy].

Utah ranked #2 on list of “best managed” states

Fiscal responsibility in government pays off. The financial blog 24/7 Wall Street says Utah is the #2 “best managed” state, behind Minnesota. Low unemployment and paying financial obligations factored into their rankings [Utah Policy].

Republican tax overhaul nears the finish line

The House passed the tax package on Tuesday but will have to take another crack at it on Wednesday. The Senate Parliamentarian rejected three provisions in the bill that violated the rules. The Senate removed them, so the House will have to vote again before sending the bill to President Trump’s desk. All of Utah’s members of Congress voted in favor of the package [New York Times].

Here’s how Republicans were able to come together in just two months to pass the most sweeping changes to the tax code in decades [New York Times].

The tax plan is a political gamble for Republicans. They passed big tax cuts without offsetting those with spending cuts, hoping that the plan will lead to big growth in the economy [Associated Press].

How is it playing at home? A poll shows just 24% of Americans think the tax plan is a good idea [NBC News]. Another survey shows just 27% of Americans think the GOP made a good faith effort to include Democrats in the process [CNN].

Many of the provisions in the tax plan go into effect at the beginning of 2018, which has companies scrambling to figure out how to figure out the new withholding rules for employees [Politico].

Republicans have until Friday to fund the government to avoid a shutdown

Republicans wanted to pass a bill to fund the Pentagon for the rest of the fiscal year, but now they will focus on a stopgap measure to fund the government through January 19th. The plan is to pick up the issue after lawmakers return to Washington after the holiday break [Politico].

One of the issues holding up efforts to pass a bill before the government runs out of money on Friday is stopgap funding for Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised Maine Sen. Susan Collins that funding would be in a must-pass year-end spending bill if she supported the tax overhaul. But, House Republicans aren’t too keen on propping up Obamacare [Politico].

Utah Sen. Mike Lee is threatening to vote against a funding package if it includes a long-term extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [Tribune].

One vote can make all the difference

Democrats forged a tie in the Virginia House of Delegates following this year’s election, and it all came down to one vote margin in a recount. Democrat Shelly Simonds beat Republican incumbent David Yancey by a single vote, which means the two parties will have an even 50-50 split in next year’s legislative session [Politico].

DACA deal looks possible for January

President Donald Trump and GOP Senators are working on a major immigration bill that could come together in January. White House officials say they’re planning on introducing a number of border security measures along with protections for Dreamers [Politico].

Pumping the breaks on Trump’s judicial nominees

Three of President Trump’s picks for the federal bench have had their nominations pulled or withdrawn in the last week, which is highlighting a poor vetting process for those nominees. Senators are threatening to put more scrutiny on the selections in the future [Washington Post].

Quick links

  • Republicans reject President Trump’s nominee to be chairman of the U.S. Export-Import Bank [Bloomberg].
  • Hundreds of people have signed a petition urging embattled Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves to resign [Daily Herald].
  • Utah lawmakers are preparing legislation for next year on the rules governing special Congressional elections [Tribune].
  • The Salt Lake County Council passes the 2018 budget, which includes money to re-open Oxbow jail next year [Tribune].
  • Utah County passes an $86 million budget for next year. Commissioners say they may need a tax hike in 2018 [Daily Herald].
  • Tanner Ainge says he is considering running for Utah County Commissioner next year [Deseret News].
  • A national alcohol trade group is putting pressure on Utah lawmakers to roll back the tougher DUI restrictions they passed in 2017 [Deseret News].
  • Jared Whitley says Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson isn’t really considering a bid for president in 2020 [Utah Policy].
  • For the ninth year in a row, Americans say “whatever” is the most annoying word used in casual conversation. “Fake news” was voted the second most annoying [Marist].

On this day in history

  • 1606 – The Virginia Company loads three ships with settlers and sets sail to establish Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.
  • 1803 – The Louisiana Purchase is completed at a ceremony in New Orleans.
  • 1812 – Sacagawea, who helped guide the Lewis and Clark Expedition, died.
  • 1860 – South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the United States.
  • 1946 – The popular Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life is first released in New York City.
  • 1956 – The Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott officially ended. The boycott had been called in reaction to the arrest of Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat to a white man.
  • 1989 – The United States invasion of Panama deposes Manuel Noriega.