Situational awareness – January 26, 2018

Good Friday morning from Salt Lake City. 

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Romney will reportedly announce his US Senate bid next week. Lawmakers may consider a modest tax cut. Trump tried to fire the special counsel in June.

Tick Tock:

  • 41 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 42 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 48 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 53 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 85 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 92 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 151 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 284 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 367 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 1,012 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Join Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick for a Facebook Live video this morning at 9. We’ll discuss the latest news from the Utah Legislature and take your questions. See you on our Facebook page later this morning.

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

SCOOP! Romney expected to announce his campaign next week, take signature route to the ballot

Sources close to Mitt Romney tell us that the former GOP presidential candidate is readying to launch his U.S. Senate campaign next week. Romney will also take the signature route to the ballot, but it’s not known if he’ll go through the GOP convention as well. Romney will spend about $200,000 to gather the 28,000 signatures, and the process should take three weeks [Utah Policy]. 

New Senate President in 2019

Current Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, says he’s not planning on running for another two-year term as Utah Senate President, although he will run for another term on the Hill in 2018. Niederhauser has been president for six years [Utah Policy].

Week in review

The Utah Legislature gets back to work, budget cuts and surpluses, Gary Herbert, Mitt Romney, abortion bills, and conspiracy theories. Bob Bernick and Bryan Schott break down a fast-paced week in Utah politics [Utah Policy]. The discussion is also available as a podcast [Utah Policy].

Odds and ends from week one

Bob Bernick sifts through a few tidbits left over in his notebook from week one of the 2018 session [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Utah will have an extra $35-80 million to spend this year because of the federal tax cuts, which has lawmakers considering a slight reduction in the state income tax [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Lawmakers unveiled their proposed changes for transportation and the Utah Transit Authority on Thursday [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The Utah House unanimously approves a bill to require a warrant before police can draw blood from a patient. The bill comes in the wake of the highly controversial arrest of a nurse at University Hospital last year [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • A House committee advances a bill to ban abortion when the reason is Down syndrome despite warnings the legislation is likely unconstitutional [Deseret News].
  • Sen. Deidre Henderson is proposing legislation to automatically register a person to vote when they renew their driver’s license [Tribune].
  • The Utah House voted to eliminate the state’s long-vacant “porn czar” position [Tribune].
  • Lawmakers and community leaders tout a raft of bills designed to help Utah families while providing an economic boost [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Legislators are proposing to further crack down on where panhandlers are allowed to operate [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • President Donald Trump ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller in June but relented when the White House counsel threatened to resign [New York Times].
  • A new proposal from the Trump administration would provide a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants in exchange for increased border security and a reduction in legal immigration [Washington Post].
  • President Trump said Thursday he’s open to reconsidering his decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership if the U.S. could negotiate a better deal, but it’s almost certainly too late for those negotiations to happen [CNBC].
  • Russian troll factories got more than 300,000 Americans on Facebook to engage with more than 100 phony event announcements during the 2016 campaign [Washington Post].
  • The reference to a “secret society” in text messages between two FBI agents was likely a reference to a Vladimir Putin-themed joke calendar [CNN].
  • The FBI considered appointing Patrick Fitzgerald as a special prosecutor to look into Hillary Clinton’s private email server [Politico].
  • The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced the “Doomsday Clock” by 30 seconds, setting it at 2 minutes to midnight, which is a representation of how close humanity is to an all-out nuclear war [New York Times].

On this day in history:

  • 1837 – Michigan is admitted as the 26th state.
  • 1838 – Tennessee enacts the first prohibition law in the U.S.
  • 1861 – Louisiana secedes from the Union.
  • 1915 – Rocky Mountain National Park is established by Congress.
  • 1998 – President Bill Clinton denies having had “sexual relations” with former White House intern Monica Lewinski.
  • 2016 – One of the occupiers in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff in Oregon, LaVoy Finicum, was fatally shot by state troopers during a confrontation at a roadblock.