Situational awareness – January 23, 2018

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. 

It’s day #2 of the 2018 Utah Legislature. Join Contributing Editor Bob Bernick and me for another Facebook Live chat this morning around 9 am. We’ll run down what happened on the first day and what’s on tap. Join us on our Facebook page sometime around 9 am.

Lawmakers want to tackle tax reform this year, but they’re not sure how much they’ll be able to get done. Speaker Greg Hughes declares war on opioid manufacturers. The government shutdown ends…for now.

Tick Tock:

  • 44 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 45 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 51 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 56 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 88 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 95 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 154 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 287 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 370 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 1,015 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

The 2018 Utah Legislature starts with a declaration of war on opioid manufacturers

House Speaker Greg Hughes kicked off his final session on the Hill by announcing the state would file a lawsuit against Big Pharma over the opioid crisis [Utah Policy]. However, that announcement caught Attorney General Sean Reyes a little off guard. He says his office has been exploring a lawsuit, but they’re not quite sure how to proceed yet [Utah Policy].

Lawmakers are hoping to tackle tax reform this year. In reality, they might not be able to accomplish much

“Broaden the base and lower the rate” is the mantra you’ll hear over and over again during the 2018 session, but will lawmakers be able to get there? House and Senate leadership seem to have some doubts that they’ll be able to make major changes this year [Utah Policy].

Changes to taxes on the federal level should give Utah’s coffers a windfall this year

Sen. Jerry Stevenson says the state should see an extra $25-80 million this year because of the tax overhaul passed by Congress at the end of 2017 [Utah Policy]. Here’s a podcast of our conversation with Stevenson about the financial boost [Utah Policy].

Proposal would nix the state portion of the sales tax on food

Rep. Tim Quinn is proposing a bill to remove the state portion of the sales tax on food in exchange for a slight boost in the overall sales tax [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Campaign donations to Utah lawmakers overwhelmingly came from special interest groups rather than the public [Tribune].
  • Lawmakers quickly move on legislation to clean up several sections of Utah’s education statutes [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Karianne Lisonbee unveils a proposal to prohibit abortion if the sole reason is to prevent a baby being born with Down syndrome [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Sen. Jani Iwamoto has legislation to make killing a police animal a felony [Deseret News].
  • Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant delivers his State of the Judiciary address to lawmakers [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Gov. Gary Herbert touts his proposal to spend $22.5 million on promoting tourism next year [City Weekly].
  • The Point of the Mountain Commission approved a planning scenario that will guide development and growth around that area once the prison moves [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The committee exploring a possible Winter Olympics bid for Utah says the state could host the games for slightly less than what it cost in 2002 [Tribune].
  • Students at Herriman High School say an article about a teacher’s firing over alleged misconduct was removed from the school newspaper’s website, so they’ve launched an independent online publication [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • The government shutdown is over…for now. Democrats caved to pressure and agreed to a short-term spending bill without a legislative fix to the DACA program. Republicans did agree to extend funding for the CHIP program for six years. The government is only funded for 16 more days, so we could do this all over again in February [New York Times].
  • The White House and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was forced out [Axios].
  • The fiancee of former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos says he will be the “John Dean” of the Russia investigation and will turn out to be “more than a bit player” in the affair [Washington Post].
  • The Justice Department says House Republicans are refusing to show them a secret memo that alleges misconduct by officials investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016 [Politico].
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional map as unconstitutional because it was drawn to favor Republicans over Democrats [Philadelphia Inquirer].
  • President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission tried to obtain voter data from Texas that flagged Hispanic voters [Washington Post].
  • President Donald Trump is clashing with Chief of Staff John Kelly behind the scenes and Ivanka Trump is reportedly interviewing possible replacements [Vanity Fair].
  • President Trump imposed steep tariffs on solar panels and washing machines on Monday [New York Times]. 
  • A 7.9 earthquake hit off the coast of Alaska early Tuesday morning, prompting tsunami warnings [CNN].

On this day in history:

  • 1845 – Congress decided that all national elections would take place on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November.
  • 1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her M.D. by the Geneva Medical College in New York, becoming the first female doctor in the U.S.
  • 1957 – Inventor Walter Morrison sells the rights to his flying disc to the Wham-O toy company, which renames it the “Frisbee.”
  • 1964 – The 24th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting the use of poll taxes in national elections, is ratified.
  • 1973 – President Richard Nixon announces a peace accord has been reached in Vietnam.
  • 1980 – President Jimmy Carter reinstated the Selective Service System.
  • 1997 – Madeline Albright becomes the first woman to serve as Secretary of State.