Situational awareness – February 1, 2018

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. 

Bill to gut SB54 is going nowhere on Capitol Hill. McAdams raised slightly more money than Love. The Trump administration is prepared to release a classified memo about the Russia investigation on Thursday.

Tick Tock:

  • 35 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 36 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 42 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 47 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 79 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 86 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 145 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 278 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 361 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 1,006 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Bill to gut SB54 is DOA

Even though a House committee voted to advance a bill that would undermine the current dual path to the primary ballot, a powerful Senator says its days are numbered [Utah Policy].

Ladies and gentlemen, we got us a race!

Democrat Ben McAdams slightly raised more money than Republican Mia Love in the last quarter of 2017, but Love has more campaign cash available. Polls show the race is shaping up to be a tight one [Utah Policy].

Finally, a Romney political event

Mitt Romney will be the keynote speaker at the Utah County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner. It’s the first political event that Romney has agreed to speak at since the speculation began about his probable run for U.S. Senate [Utah Policy].

Wither the Tribune?

Sen. Jim Dabakis is profoundly worried that the decision to no longer offer online content for free will harm the Salt Lake Tribune’s reach and impact on the community [Utah Policy]. Here’s a podcast of our conversation with Dabakis [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Sen. Mike Lee was on an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers that collided with a garbage truck. None of the members of Congress were hurt, but the driver of the truck was killed [KSL].
  • Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski proposed a slight sales tax hike during her state of the city address. The tax increase would fund homeless programs, transportation, public safety, and road repair [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Rep. Brad Daw wants to allow terminally ill patients the “right to try” medical marijuana, and have the state grow medical cannabis for those patients [Fox 13, Deseret NewsTribune].
  • The Utah Transit Authority’s board approved a resolution in support of proposed reforms being considered by lawmakers [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • The Utah Senate passed a bill to do away with the state’s 90-day waiting period for a divorce [Utah Policy].
  • A proposed bill would offer Utah college students loans, then forgive them if they stay in Utah to work following graduation [Tribune].
  • Rep. Norm Thurston is proposing a bill that would give Utahns who are using the state’s health insurance program a rebate if they can find lower-cost coverage elsewhere [Deseret News].
  • A federal judge consolidated the lawsuits over President Trump’s actions to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments [Tribune].
  • Visitors to the state Capitol can’t stop rubbing the nose of the bust of Abraham Lincoln [KUTV].

National headlines:

  • Special counsel Robert Mueller is zeroing in on a false explanation crafted by the White House about a mysterious meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. Former Trump legal team spokesperson is reportedly prepared to Mueller’s team about a previously undisclosed conference call between himself, President Trump and Hope Hicks where Ms. Hicks appeared ready to obstruct justice to keep emails about the meeting from getting out [New York Times].
  • The FBI took the rare step of issuing a public statement saying they have “grave concerns” over the public release of a classified memo on the Russia investigation [Associated Press].
  • Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff is accusing Republican Devin Nunes of making “material changes” to the secret memo about the Russia investigation before delivering that document to the White House. Schiff says the changes were not approved by the House Intelligence Committee [Politico].
  • The Trump administration is expected to release the classified memo authored by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday [Reuters].
  • During a December meeting at the White House, President Donald Trump reportedly asked FBI Deputy Director where the investigation from special counsel Robert Mueller was heading and whether Rosenstein was “on my team” [CNN].
  • Top FBI officials were aware for at least a month before alerting Congress about emails possibly linked to an investigation of Hillary Clinton were found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop during the 2016 presidential campaign [Wall Street Journal].
  • Peter Strzok, the controversial agent at the center of a political storm over possible anti-Trump bias in the FBI, helped draft a letter then director James Comey sent to Congress informing them that the agency was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Clinton blames the release of that letter during the final days of the 2016 election for throwing the election to Donald Trump [CNN].
  • House Republicans are warming to a possible fix to ObamaCare that would bring down premiums and stabilize the healthcare law [The Hill]. 
  • Another top Republican calls it quits before the 2018 midterms. Rep. Trey Gowdy, who lead the Benghazi investigation and now chairs the influential Oversight Committee, is not running for another term [Politico].
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is asking Republicans in Congress to raise the debt ceiling “as soon as possible” to avoid a default [Reuters].
  • CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald resigns after a report she bought shares of in a tobacco company after taking control of the agency [NBC News].
  • The Trump administration is asking for a 72% budget cut to programs that research renewable energy [Washington Post].
  • The unemployment rate in the U.S. could drop to 3.5% next year, which means employers are being forced to pay higher wages in order to keep employees [Axios].

On this day in history:

  • 1790 – The U.S. Supreme Court convened in New York City for its first session.
  • 1861 – Texas secedes from the Union.
  • 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln signs the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery.
  • 1964 – The Beatles have their first #1 hit in the U.S. with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
  • 1979 – Iranian Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini returns to Tehran after nearly 15 years of exile.
  • 2003 – The space shuttle Columbia broke apart during its descent over the southwestern United States. All seven astronauts on board were killed.