Situational awareness – February 7, 2018

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City.

A Utah Republican wants to prohibit secret recordings of conversations. The Legislature and Salt Lake City are still trying to figure out how to develop the city’s northwest quadrant. Congress moves closer to a budget deal. Trump wants a military parade.

Tick Tock:

  • 29 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 32 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 36 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 41 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 73 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 80 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 139 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 271 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 355 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 1,000 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

No more secret recordings?

Rep. Lowry Snow is proposing legislation that would make recording conversations or telephone calls illegal unless both parties know it’s being recorded. The LDS Church is supportive of the bill as it might stop secret recordings of bishop meetings [Utah Policy].

Republican lawmaker demoted

Rep. Norm Thurston was stripped of the vice-chairmanship of a House committee for making an inappropriate comment to a woman on Capitol Hill [Utah Policy].

Hatch bought tobacco stock while on Senate health panel

An investigation found Sen. Orrin Hatch was part owner of an account that bought at least $15,000 worth of stock in Phillip Morris when he was on the Senate panel that dealt with public health policy in 2012. Hatch’s office says the account has been put into a blind trust [Utah Policy].

Let in the sunlight a little

Sen. Curt Bramble wants to make some information from public meetings that go into closed session available to the public, as long as those asking to see the information can prove the public right to know outweighs the need to keep it secret [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Legislative leaders want to partner with Salt Lake City to build an inland port in the city’s northwest quadrant, but SLC leaders aren’t convinced yet [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Rep. Mia Love’s proposal to halt the use of taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment claims by members of Congress passes the House [Deseret News, Tribune]. 
  • Senators change a bill to establish a toll road in Little Cottonwood Canyon to apply to all Utah roads, then passed it to the House [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Lawmakers pass next year’s base budget with about $69 million worth of cuts to programs, but most of those reductions may be restored [Tribune].
  • Lawmakers push ahead with a plan to fund the remaining $10 million for Operation Rio Grande [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Mike Noel says the legislature should have a say when Congress is going to make federal land decisions that affect Utah [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Clean air bills in this year’s legislature carry a price tag of more than $3 million in funding [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Sen. Allen Christensen pulls a proposal to require legal immigrants to live in Utah for five years before they can qualify for Medicaid [Tribune].
  • Advocates are asking lawmakers for $1.4 million to fund domestic violence programs next year [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Lawmakers quickly passed a resolution backing another bid for Utah to host the Winter Olympic Games in either 2026 or 2030 [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The House passed a bill to add assisted suicide to Utah’s manslaughter statute, which makes it a second-degree felony to provide the means for someone to aid a suicide attempt [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Rep. Stephen Handy wants the state to study how much it costs to carry out a death penalty sentence for a prisoner [Tribune].
  • Rep. Mike Winder wants to establish the Jordan River Recreation Area to help lessen the impacts from the new homeless resource centers around the Salt Lake Valley [Deseret News].

National headlines:

  • The government runs out of money on Thursday. Senate leaders say they’re closing in on a two-year budget deal, but it remains to be seen if it can be reconciled with the House version that passed on Tuesday [Washington Post].
  • The proposed Senate budget deal would get rid of caps on domestic and military spending, raise the debt limit. However, it does not address immigration, meaning DACA will probably be left as a separate issue [Axios].
  • President Donald Trump has long wanted a grand military parade in Washington, D.C. to showcase the might of America’s armed forces. The parade may happen later this year after Trump gave explicit orders to military leaders. However, he may need money from Congress to make it happen [Washington Post].
  • President Trump’s lawyers want to seek a compromise with special counsel Robert Mueller. Instead of having Trump sit down for an interview in the Russia investigation, they want him to respond to questions in writing, which is the same deal given to President Ronald Reagan during Iran-Contra [Politico].
  • President Trump is mulling another staff shakeup in the West Wing [Vanity Fair].
  • Democrats pick up a deep-red legislative seat in Missouri. President Trump carried the seat by 28-points in 2016, but the Democratic candidate won last night by 3-percent [The Hill].
  • It wasn’t just Twitter and Facebook. Thousands of Russian trolls posed as black activists on Tumblr by spreading anti-Hillary Clinton and pro-Bernie Sanders content during the 2016 campaign [BuzzFeed].
  • Casino mogul Steve Wynn, who recently stepped down as the head of the Republican Party’s fundraising arm, is also leaving his company following allegations of sexual misconduct [New York Times].
  • The U.S. military will spend $45 billion in Afghanistan this year. The U.S. has been in Afghanistan for nearly 17 years, but the Taliban still controls 70% of the country [Axios].
  • SpaceX successfully tested the largest rocket on the planet on Tuesday, returning two of the boosters to the ground where they can be used again [Los Angeles Times]. The rocket also sent a Tesla roadster into orbit around the sun where it will remain for hundreds of thousands of years. The car has a copy of “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” in the glove box []. 
  • The U.S. Postal Service will unveil a stamp honoring Mr. Rogers next month [Associated Press].

On this day in history:

  • 1497 – The Bonfire of the Vanities in Florence, Italy, took place when followers of Girolamo Savonarola burned thousands of books, art, and cosmetics.
  • 1795 – The 11th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified.
  • 1940 – Walt Disney’s second full-length animated film, Pinocchio, premiers.
  • 1962 – The United States bans all Cuban imports and exports.
  • 1964 – The Beatles arrived in the United States for the first time and set off a frantic wave of “Beatlemania.”
  • 1973 – The U.S. Senate voted to set up a committee to investigate a break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate complex.
  • 2013 – Mississippi officially certifies the 13th Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery.