Situational awareness – January 24, 2018

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. 

Let’s talk about the Legislature! Bob Bernick and Bryan Schott will break down the latest happenings on the Hill and take your questions live on Facebook around 9 am this morning. Join us on our Facebook page.

Legislative Republicans swipe at the AG’s office with a proposed bill. Rep. Chris Stewart has to walk back a claim about the Russia investigation. Mueller wants to interview Trump about his firing of Comey and Flynn.

Tick Tock:

  • 43 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 44 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 50 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 55 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 87 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 94 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 153 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 286 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 369 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 1,014 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

If you have any story ideas, tips, suggestions or complaints, I’m always available at [email protected].

Tell your friends they can subscribe to our newsletter here.

Here’s what’s driving the day:

Lawmakers pick a fight with the governor’s office

The House introduced legislation to force the AG’s office to give them a legal opinion when they ask for it. You’ll remember the Legislature wanted Attorney General Reyes to give them an opinion on the 3rd CD special election process, but Gov. Herbert blocked it [Utah Policy].

Rep. Stewart walks back a shocking claim about the Russia investigation

Rep. Chris Stewart suggested that the infamous Fusion GPS dossier on possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia is tainted because the British agent, Christopher Steele, who assembled the dossier may have worked with Russian agents. When we asked Stewart to clarify those remarks, he said he was trying to point out the irony of claims that the Trump campaign collaborated with Russia [Utah Policy].

Lawmakers may help foster better fathers in Utah

Rep. Mike Winder is proposing legislation to create a commission to help fathers have a better relationship with their children [Utah Policy].

Legislative odds and ends

Check out some of the tidbits and quips our reporters gathered on the Hill. Rep. Chris Stewart tries to make a Caddyshack reference, but it was clear he was talking about another movie [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Sen. Mike Lee explains why he voted against two measures to fund the government during the three-day shutdown [Deseret News].
  • The Utah Senate advanced a measure to create a new classification of first responder who is trained to respond to situations involving suicidal people [Deseret News].
  • Lawmakers are considering a bill to create a tax credit for low income families that would provide up to $600 per year [Tribune].
  • Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck’s bill allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives could become a ballot initiative if lawmakers reject the measure again [Fox 13].
  • Rep. Justin Fawson wants to discourage state employees from doing political work on state-owned computers and cell phones by making them subject to open records laws [Tribune].
  • Utah religious leaders send a letter to lawmakers urging them to pass Sen. Daniel Thatcher’s victim targeting bill [Deseret News].
  • A Senate committee approved a bill allowing “free range parenting” [Deseret News].
  • 67 state employees have reported abusive behavior by bosses or co-workers since 2015 [Tribune].
  • Utah’s population will surge to more than 5 million people by 2050, and local officials are exploring the best ways to plan for that growth [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz makes his first public appearance in Utah since he resigned unexpectedly last year [Daily Herald].

National headlines:

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to question President Trump about the firings of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former FBI Director James Comey [Washington Post].
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller interviewed both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey as part of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election [CNN].
  • President Trump allegedly asked acting FBI director Andrew McCabe who he voted for in the 2016 election. The incident happened shortly after Trump fired James Comey [Washington Post].
  • Republicans in Congress are calling for the release of a memo critical of the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but Democrats say the Russians are working overtime to promote the effort to make that memo public [Washington Post].
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer reportedly withdrew his offer to support funding for President Trump’s border wall [CNN]. President Trump fired back that if there was no funding for the wall, there would be no fix for DACA [The Hill].
  • Congressional Democrats are struggling to regroup after caving to end the government shutdown [Politico].
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth announces she is pregnant. She will become the first US Senator to give birth while in office [Chicago Sun Times].
  • Google spent more than $18 million lobbying Congress last year. The internet search giant outspent every other company on lobbying [Washington Post].
  • Voters in Florida will decide on a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to felons in the state [Orlando Sentinel].

On this day in history:

  • 1848 – James W. Marshall finds gold at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento, kicking off the California Gold Rush.
  • 1916 – The Supreme Court ruled that an income tax was constitutional.
  • 1933 – The 20th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, changing the beginning and end of terms for all elected officials.
  • 1963 – President John F. Kennedy denied that the United States had planned to provide air cover for the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
  • 1972 – Japanese Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi is found hiding in a Guam jungle, where he had been since the end of World War II.
  • 1989 – Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy is executed by the electric chair at the Florida State Prison.