Situational awareness – January 29, 2018

Good Monday morning from Salt Lake City. 

Niederhauser says lawmakers need to start thinking about Utah’s transportation future. The original estimate to build the new Utah State Prison was much higher than what lawmakers were told. Trump prepares for his first State of the Union address. 

Tick Tock:

  • 38 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 39 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 45 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 50 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 82 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 89 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 148 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 281 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 364 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 1,009 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Niederhauser says lawmakers should focus on taxes and transportation

We sat down for a podcast interview with Senate President Wayne Niederhauser about the 2018 session. He says there won’t be any big moves on tax reform this year, but he does want lawmakers to start focusing on long-term solutions for transportation infrastructure [Utah Policy]. Here’s the podcast of our full conversation [Utah Policy].

Changes to sex ed in Utah?

Rep. Raymond Ward says many Utah teachers just skip the section on contraceptives because they’re worried about violating a state ban on “advocating” for their use. He wants to remove that provision from state code [Utah Policy].

A Romney romp in 2018?

Our “Political Insiders” say if Mitt Romney gets into the 2018 US Senate race, as expected, he will win handily in November [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Legislative leaders were originally given an estimate of $860 million to build the new prison in Salt Lake City, but lawmakers were never given that number. Instead, they were told it would cost $550 million [Tribune].
  • Utah is one of several states considering expanding Medicaid now that the Trump administration says a work requirement can be included with the expansion [Washington Post].
  • Records show Utah spent $33 million on documents for the proposed Lake Powell pipeline [Tribune].
  • The new LDS Church leadership issued a statement on DACA, calling for an immigration policy that would allow young undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. [Deseret News].
  • Lawmakers are trying to figure out what to do with the extra $25-80 million coming to Utah because of federal tax changes. The most likely result is a slight income tax cut [Deseret News].
  • More bills dealing with the fallout from the Gary Ott situation are winding their way through the halls on Capitol Hill [Deseret News].
  • A House committee killed a bill to exempt some county governments more exemptions from Utah’s open records and public meetings laws [Tribune].
  • The Utah House approved a bill make sure crisis hotlines are staffed 24 hours a day [Tribune, Fox 13].
  • Democratic Sen. Gene Davis will once again try to get his bill calling for full Medicaid expansion through the legislature [Deseret News].
  • A study shows more than 2/3rds of the roads in Salt Lake City are rated “poor” or worse, and it will cost the city more than $20 million a year to fix them [Tribune].
  • The Salt Lake Tribune will put a paywall for their online content later this week [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • President Donald Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. Here’s what we can expect [New York Times].
  • President Donald Trump pressed some of his senior aides to carry out a smear campaign against senior FBI officials who might be witnesses against him as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation [Foreign Policy].
  • The secret memo authored and pushed by Republican members of Congress says Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved an application to continue surveillance of former Trump campaign associate Carter Page because they believed he was working as a Russian agent [New York Times].
  • Republicans and Democrats are trying to find a path forward to find a deal on DACA before a March 5 deadline when the program ends [Washington Post].
  • The Trump administration is floating an idea of having the federal government taking over a portion of the nation’s mobile network to guard against China [Axios].
  • U.S. soldiers who use fitness apps to track their exercise may be giving away sensitive information about their positions and movements on military bases [Washington Post].
  • Hillary Clinton made a surprise appearance during the Grammy awards where she read a passage from Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” [The Hill].
  • Twitter says Russian bots retweeted President Trump nearly 500,000 in the final months of the 2016 election, helping to amplify his Twitter posts on the social media network [Bloomberg].
  • The U.S. is set to pass Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil-producing nation, which should bring lower prices at the pump for Americans [New York Times].

On this day in history:

  • 1834 – President Andrew Jackson orders the use of federal soldiers to suppress a labor dispute for the first time.
  • 1861 – Kansas is admitted as the 34th state.
  • 1907 – Charles Curtis of Kansas becomes the first Native American U.S. Senator.
  • 2002 – In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush describes “regimes that sponsor terror” as an “Axis of evil,” in which he includes Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
  • 2009 – Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is removed from office following his conviction on several corruption charges, including the alleged solicitation of personal benefit in exchange for an appointment to the U.S. Senate as a replacement for then-U.S. president-elect Barack Obama.