Situational awareness – February 5, 2018

Good Monday morning from Salt Lake City.

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia for you history buffs out there. The Berlin Wall stood for 10,315 days. Today is the 10,315th day since the wall fell on November 9, 1989.

Utah lawmakers may nix tax hikes to fund Utah’s schools, even if voters approve them in November. Romney eyed for a leadership spot in the U.S. Senate. The government runs out of money on Friday.

Tick Tock:

  • 31 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 34 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 38 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 43 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 75 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 82 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 141 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 274 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 357 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 1,002 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

More shenanigans with ballot initiatives

Rep. Mike Schultz is proposing more money for education, but his bill also rolls back the proposed tax hikes in the “Our Schools Now” ballot initiative even if voters approve it in November [Utah Policy].

Senate Republicans want Mitt Romney for a leadership spot

Even though he’s not even a candidate yet, Senate Republicans are talking about Mitt Romney as the next chair of the NRSC, their campaign arm [Utah Policy].

Romney could join a small fraternity this year

Only three former presidential candidates have gone on to win a U.S. Senate seat since 1972 [Utah Policy].

Signatures, convention or both?

Our “Political Insiders” say Mitt Romney should take both the signature and convention route to the ballot when he runs for Senate this year [Utah Policy].

Wilson’s campaign cash

Democrat Jenny Wilson’s campaign raised a little more than $124,000 in campaign funds during the most recent quarter. They also have about that much left in the bank [Utah Policy].

Stewart says intelligence committee memo does not exonerate Trump

Rep. Chris Stewart says a controversial memo released on Friday does not support President Trump’s claim that he’s been “exonerated” in the Russia investigation, but it does raise serious questions about bias in the FBI [Utah Policy].

In polling, questions matter

LaVarr Webb says we should be skeptical of a poll released last week showing failing support for the “Our Schools Now” ballot initiative [Utah Policy].

Campaign cash limits

Sen. Jim Dabakis wants to propose extremely modest limits on how much cash can be donated to political candidates [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Businessman Jon Huntsman passed away on Friday at the age of 80 [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Lawmakers have opened a record 1,341 bill files so far this session [Tribune].
  • Republicans legislators are still pushing to create a new legislative committee to provide government oversight despite the bill failing to pass out of a House committee last week [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Legislators are seeking to hike taxes on rental cars and hotel rooms, which won’t affect Utah voters in an election year [Utah Policy].
  • A House committee advanced a measure that reigns in the powers of temporary replacements for elected officials [Deseret News].
  • Utah lawmakers are moving forward with some measures to strengthen the state’s domestic violence laws [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • A resolution advocating for Utah to host another Winter Olympic games moves ahead on Capitol Hill [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • A legislative audit finds required testing for Utah school kids only eats up about 3% of total instruction time [Deseret News].
  • Backers of the “Keep My Voice” ballot initiative are holding seven public hearings across the state on Monday about their proposal to repeal SB54 [Tribune].
  • Utah’s snowpack totals this year are alarmingly low in some parts of the state [KSL].
  • Businessman and Democratic party donor Ian Cummings passed away Friday at the age of 77 [Deseret News].
  • Police are looking for Keith Morey, the VP of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. He went missing Thursday evening in a parking garage [KUTV].

National headlines:

  • Congress heads back to Washington looking to make a deal to keep the government funded. The current funding deal runs out on Friday [The Hill].
  • Sens. John McCain and Christopher Coons plan to introduce immigration legislation on Monday that gives DACA recipients a path to citizenship while funding a study to determine how best to address border security [The Hill]. More likely, however, is merely a one-year extension of protections for DACA recipients with some money for border security [Politico].
  • Democrats will push the House Intelligence Committee to release their own classified memo, which rebuts the memo Republicans released on Friday that alleges misconduct by federal law enforcement officials during the Russia investigation [New York Times].
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan quickly deleted a tweet on Saturday crowing about a public school librarian who saw her paycheck increase by $1.50 per week from the GOP tax bill. Democrats and other critics quickly pounced on the social media gaffe [New York Times].
  • The Trump administration’s new nuclear weapons policy aims to modernize America’s nuclear arsenal while staying within the limits of existing treaties [New York Times].
  • Whoops! One of the largest agencies in the Pentagon cannot account for more than $800 million that were supposed to go toward construction projects [Politico].
  • 40 Democratic congressional candidates raised more money than GOP incumbents during the last round of fundraising reports, and the trendline looks to be worsening for Republicans [Politico].
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is backing away from a probe into how Equifax had the personal information of more than 143 million Americans stolen by hackers and didn’t disclose the breach until weeks later [Reuters].
  • Arthur Jones is poised to become the Republican nominee for Congress in a heavily Democratic district in Illinois. One problem, though. Jones is an outspoken holocaust denier [Chicago Sun-Times]. 

On this day in history:

  • 1631 – British clergyman Roger Williams, who founded the colony of Rhode Island, arrived in Salem, Mass., seeking religious freedom.
  • 1778 – South Carolina becomes the second state to ratify the Articles of Confederation.
  • 1917 – Congress passes the Immigration Act of 1917 over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. 
  • 1945 – American troops led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur returned to Manila, liberating the Philippine capital from the Japanese.
  • 1958 – A hydrogen bomb known as the Tybee Bomb is lost by the US Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, never to be recovered.
  • 1971 – Astronauts land on the moon in the Apollo 14 mission.
  • 2003 – Secretary of State Colin Powell accused the Saddam Hussein regime of deceiving U.N. weapons inspectors and having ties with the al-Qaida terrorist network.