Situational awareness – January 12, 2018

Good Friday morning from Salt Lake City. 

I’m told that several prominent Utah Republicans were planning a press conference today to denounce President Trump’s offensive and racist comments about immigrants, but could not get the logistics to work out because of today’s funeral for LDS President Thomas Monson.

Republican legislators are eyeing Medicaid expansion under certain conditions, a donor helps the GOP get out from under their crushing legal debt, and President Trump stokes fresh outrage by slamming immigrants from “sh*thole countries.”

Tick Tock:

  • 10 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 55 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 56 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 62 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 67 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 99 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 106 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 165 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 298 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,026 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Thanks for reading our daily rundown of the political news stories you need to know (and nothing you don’t). If you have any story ideas, tips, rants, complaints, or just want to swap recipes, reach out to me at [email protected]. I’m always available.

I’ll be a guest on The Hinckley Report on KUED this evening. The panel includes Lisa Riley-Roche from the Deseret News and former Republican State Senator Steve Urquhart, along with host Jason Perry. We discuss whether Mitt Romney will get into Utah’s U.S. Senate race, Speaker Greg Hughes’s announcement he would not run for re-election, tax reform and immigration. Tune in tonight at 7:30 pm on KUED. The show repeats Sunday morning at 11 am.

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

SCOOP! Lawmakers exploring Obamacare Medicaid expansion…with some limits

Speaker Greg Hughes tells there’s a draft bill circulating ahead of the 2018 Legislature that would have the state accept Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, as long as they could tie it to new work requirements allowed by the Trump administration and put caps on how much the state spends [Utah Policy].

GOP Debt woes are ending

A donor with deep pockets has agreed to pick up the tab for more than $400,000 in legal fees the Utah GOP racked up fighting SB54, plus he’ll fund the lawsuit going forward [Utah Policy].

What happened this week and why?

Bob Bernick and Bryan Schott have more than 50 years combined covering Utah politics, so they bring a deep well of experience to our coverage and analysis. Watch as they break down the week’s big news, including Greg Hughes’s decision to not run for another term in 2018, and explain what it means [Utah Policy]. Here’s a podcast if that’s what you prefer [Utah Policy].

Bob Bernick looks back on Greg Hughes’s career

Bob never expected Hughes to become Utah House Speaker when he entered the legislature so many years ago, and now that he’s leaving, there’s no way he’s finished [Utah Policy].

Other Utah stories:

  • Rep. Mia Love is demanding that President Donald Trump apologize for calling Haiti, El Salvador and African nations “sh*tholes” during a discussion on immigration [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch is vowing to go “big and bold” during his final year in the Senate [Deseret News].
  • Two Utah lawmakers have been accused of sexual harassment over the past decade, according to records obtained by the Associated Press. The lawmakers were ordered to take extra training as a result. Their names were not released [Associated Press].
  • Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart are at odds over renewing a controversial government spying program that Congress is currently debating. Stewart favors the FISA act, which allows the NSA to spy on the electronic communications of foreigners abroad without a warrant, while Lee contends the program could violate the privacy of Americans [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Mitt Romney will keynote an upcoming tech summit in Utah later this month [Deseret News].
  • Utah Transit Authority executives gave “crazy” discounts in a transit pass program for BYU and UVU without permission from the UTA board [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Columnist Michelle Quist takes Attorney General Sean Reyes to task for focusing on issues that really aren’t part of his job description, saying Reyes looks like he’s getting ready to run for a higher office [Tribune].
  • Rep. Mike Noel is pushing a bill that would restrict a city’s right to regulate land use in the watersheds they tap for water sources [Tribune].
  • Utah tax experts try to untangle the GOP tax plan and what it might mean for you [Tribune].
  • Environmentalists wonder why we’re just hearing about a proposed settlement between the state and EnergySolutions over their waste disposal site in Tooele [Tribune].
  • Utah gets a $10 million federal grant to combat homelessness [Deseret News].

National headlines

  • The quote everyone is talking about. President Donald Trump asked why the U.S. allows immigrants from “sh*thole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and other countries during a discussion on immigration. Trump denied the quote in an early morning post on Twitter [Washington Post].
  • President Trump cancels his upcoming trip to London, saying he did not want to be associated with a “bad deal” to move the U.S. embassy, blaming the Obama administration for the move. The process was actually started under the Bush administration [Washington Post].
  • President Trump’s allies are advising him not to sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller [CNN].
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi knocked the “five white guys” who are negotiating a deal on immigration reform, referring to President Trump and Congressional leaders [CNN].
  • Former White House strategist Steve Bannon will testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election [NBC News].
  • President Trump set off a wild scramble on Thursday morning after sending out contradictory tweets about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Trump tweeted his opposition to the law after watching a Fox News segment slamming FISA, but the problem is his administration actually favors renewing the act. 101 minutes later, Trump sent another tweet reversing the original message [Washington Post].
  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke plans to reorganize the department, shifting thousands of workers to new locations across the country [Washington Post].
  • Facebook will start showing you more posts from friends instead of publishers in an effort to spark “meaningful interactions” [Axios].
  • Wal Mart announces they will boosting their minimum wage and pay cash bonuses to some employees because of the GOP tax package [Politico].

On this day in history

  • 1915 – The U.S. House of Representatives rejects a proposal to require states to give women the right to vote.
  • 1932 – Hattie Caraway of Arkansas becomes the first women elected to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate.
  • 1966 – President Lyndon Johnson states that the U.S. should stay in South Vietnam until Communist aggression there is ended.
  • 1969 – The New York Jets of the American Football League defeat the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League in Super Bowl III. It’s considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
  • 1991 – Congress authorizes the use of American military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.
  • 1994 – President Bill Clinton asked Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the Whitewater land deal affair that involved him and the first lady.