Situational awareness – January 9, 2018

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. 

Utah lawmakers say they may have to make cuts, even though they’re expecting a big budget surplus. Mitt Romney was treated for prostate cancer over the summer. The Trump administration is eyeing a narrowly targeted military strike against North Korea.

Tick Tock:

  • 13 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 58 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 59 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 65 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 70 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 102 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 109 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 168 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 301 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,029 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Welcome to our daily rundown of the important news stories you need to know. Send me your tips, story ideas, corrections or rants at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you.

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Budget, budget, budget

Utah lawmakers expect the state to see a big budget surplus next year, but most of that extra money is already spoken for. In fact, legislative leaders say they’ll start $21 million in the hole, which means they may have to make cuts [Utah Policy].

Mitt Romney’s health issues

Sources close to Mitt Romney say the former GOP presidential nominee was treated successfully for prostate cancer over the summer. This is significant since Romney is reportedly mulling a bid for U.S. Senate this year [Utah Policy].

McCay looking to move up?

GOP sources tell us Rep. Dan McCay is seriously eyeing a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Orrin Hatch. McCay told us “no comment” when we asked him about it [Utah Policy].

Lawmakers are looking to boost education funding

Legislators are seriously considering a couple of tax reforms that will boost Utah’s school funding, but they won’t come close to the amount of money that will be going into education under a proposed ballot initiative [Utah Policy].

Could tax cuts lead to a bigger tax bill?

Tax cuts on the federal level could mean some Utah taxpayers will see a bigger state tax bill in 2018. We explain [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Gov. Gary Herbert will testify before a congressional hearing on Tuesday about the new national monuments created by President Donald Trump when he reduced the Bears Ears National Monument last year [Deseret News].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch says he would like to sit down and help Oprah Winfrey if she decided to run for president in 2020 [TMZ]. 
  • The Utah Supreme Court considers whether transgendered Utahns can change their gender identity on official documents [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • Talks are underway for special counsel Robert Mueller to interview President Trump as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump’s lawyers are aiming to limit the scope of Mueller’s questioning [Washington Post]. 
  • The Trump administration is weighing a “bloody nose” military strike against North Korea in response to military provocation. The idea is a risky one as the North Korean regime could interpret the move as the opening salvo in an all-out war [Wall Street Journal].
  • 10 days until the government shuts down. Republicans say they’re increasingly doubtful they’ll reach a long-term funding deal for the government with Democrats. Democrats want protections for thousands of young undocumented immigrants after President Trump ended the DACA program [Politico].
  • Whoops! The new tax law could make it more attractive financially for U.S. companies to send jobs overseas. Income produced by overseas subsidiaries will be taxed at half the rate of domestic income [New York Times].
  • Democrats are all a-twitter over the news that Oprah Winfrey is reportedly thinking about running for president in 2020 following her rousing speech at the Golden Globe Awards [Politico].
  • Vice President Mike Pence will hit the road to campaign for Republicans ahead of this year’s midterm elections [Wall Street Journal].
  • The Trump administration will end protections for more than 200,000 Salvadoran refugees who have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade with no legal status [CNN].
  • A federal judge threw out the government’s case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy because prosecutors withheld possibly exculpatory evidence from the defense. The government cannot bring the case again [Los Angeles Times].
  • Billionaire Tom Steyer says he will spend up to $30 million to help Democrats retake the House in the 2018 midterms [New York Times].
  • North Korea will send athletes to next month’s Winter Olympic Games in South Korea [Associated Press].

On this day in history:

  • 1788 – Connecticut becomes the fifth state to ratify the Constitution.
  • 1861 – Mississippi becomes the second state to secede from the Union before the outbreak of the Civil War.
  • 1951 – U.N. headquarters opened in New York.