Situational awareness – January 30, 2018

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. 

Lawmakers are working on a big Medicaid expansion bill for 2018. A former top Utah Democratic official is eyeing a run for the Utah State Senate. Chaos in Washington over a secret Republican memo.

Tick Tock:

  • 37 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 38 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 44 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 49 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 81 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 88 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 147 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 280 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 363 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 1,008 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Medicaid expansion proposal would cover 60,000 Utahns

Rep. Robert Spendlove’s proposal to expand Medicaid would extend coverage to 60,000 Utahns at a cost of $50 million. Lawmakers think they can reach that number by repurposing money that’s already being spent on healthcare so there’s no new cost to the state [Utah Policy]. Here’s a podcast of our conversation with Spendlove about the Medicaid proposal [Utah Policy].

More than 400 bills on Capitol Hill…so far

We’re only a week into the 2018 session, and lawmakers have introduced more than 400 bills [Utah Policy].

Holland considering a run for Utah State Senate

Former Utah Democratic Chairman Wayne Holland is considering running for the State Senate seat in District 8. The seat is up for election because former Sen. Brian Shiozawa resigned to take a slot with the Trump administration [Utah Policy].

Tweaking Utah’s abortion law

A proposal from Sen. Todd Weiler would replace written materials used to educate women who are seeking an abortion with an “educational module” and a website [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Lawmakers moved on a bill to ensure that bonds they authorized for road construction and the new state prison will be used exclusively for those purposes [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Legislators will once again push for an inland port in Salt Lake City’s northwest quadrant, but city leaders are wary of what the project might mean for the area [Tribune].
  • The Utah Senate approved a measure to replace the statue of television inventor Philo T. Farnsworth that currently sits in the U.S. Capitol with one of Martha Cannon, who was the first woman to be elected a state senator in the U.S. [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • A Senate panel approved a bill to expand the list of crimes that are eligible for the death penalty [Tribune].
  • Insurers are pushing back against a bill requiring them to pay for consultations between patients and psychiatrists [Deseret News].
  • Salt Lake County unveiled a program to provide temporary housing for homeless people going through drug treatment as part of Operation Rio Grande [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The Utah Senate approved a bill allowing public schools to install bolt locks on classroom doors that can be locked during a school lockdown situation [Deseret News].
  • Sen. Jani Iwamoto wants to increase the punishment for killing a police animal [Fox 13, Deseret News].

National headlines:

  • President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address Tuesday night. The Trump administration says not to expect the unveiling of any new initiatives during the speech [Politico].
  • Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release a Republican-authored memo alleging misconduct by FBI Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein when he extended a surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign adviser with ties to Russia. The committee refused to release a Democrat-authored counter-memo. Republicans on the committee have also opened an investigation into the FBI and the Department of Justice [New York Times]. 
  • The White House informed Congress on Monday that new sanctions against Russia passed by lawmakers last year would not be implemented yet because the measure is already “serving as a deterrent.” The sanctions passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress last year [CNN].
  • FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe stepped down on Monday following public pressure by President Donald Trump and behind the scenes pressure from Attorney General Jeff Sessions [Axios].
  • A Russian fighter jet flew within five feet of a US Navy surveillance plane while it was flying in international airspace on Monday [CNN]. 

On this day in history:

  • 1798 – The first fight to break out on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives began when one congressman spat in another’s face.
  • 1835 – In the first assassination attempt against a U.S. President, Richard Lawrence attempts to shoot President Andrew Jackson twice, but fails. Lawrence was subdued by a crowd that included Jackson, who savagely beat Lawrence with his cane.
  • 1847 – Yerba Buena, California is renamed San Francisco.
  • 1933 – Adolf Hitler is sworn in as Chancellor of Germany.
  • 1948 – Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated by a Hindu extremist.
  • 1968 – Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army forces launched a massive attack, known as the Tet Offensive, against South Vietnam.
  • 1969 – The Beatles’ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London. The impromptu concert is broken up by the police.