Situational awareness – February 8, 2018

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City.

16 years ago today, the 2002 Winter Olympic games opened in Salt Lake City. Tonight the 2018 games open in Peyongchang, South Korea. My, how time flies.

A Utah lawmaker suddenly resigns with little explanation. The “victim targeting” bill is dead for another year. Congress cuts a deal to avoid a shutdown.

Tick Tock:

  • 28 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 31 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 35 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 40 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 72 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 79 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 138 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 270 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 354 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 999 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Rep. Jon Stanard resigned suddenly with little explanation

Stanard was considered a rising star in the House Republican caucus. He was the vice-chair of the powerful rules committee. Then he told House Republican leaders Tuesday night he was resigning immediately for personal reasons [Utah Policy].

Victim targeting bill is kaput

Sen. Daniel Thatcher was trying to put a spin on traditional “hate crimes” legislation that could win support from reluctant conservatives. It didn’t work this year as Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says there are not enough votes for it to even get a committee hearing this year [Utah Policy].

Oh, irony is so ironic!

The group that wants to kill the ability for candidates to gather signatures to get on the primary ballot is hiring paid signature gatherers (at a rate of $30/hour) to get their ballot initiative on the ballot. Follow that? [Utah Policy].

Free Martha!

The resolution to replace the statue of Philo Farnsworth in Washington, D.C. with one of Martha Hughes Cannon finally makes it out of the House Rules Committee after being blocked by Rep. Mike Noel [Utah Policy].

Terrible accusations against Hatch’s former chief of staff

Rob Porter, who was once Sen. Orrin Hatch’s chief of staff and is now a top aide to President Donald Trump, has been accused by two of his ex-wives of physically abusing them. Porter will reportedly step down on Thursday from his position. The FBI made the White House aware of the allegations against Porter during his background check for the White House job. Hatch initially called the report on Porter “vile,” then walked it back, then reversed himself again, saying he should fight to keep his job [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines: 

  • A House committee approved a measure to eliminate the state portion of the sales tax on food [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • A Republican “insider” says he’s confident that Rep. Lee Perry will be able to come up with medical cannabis legislation that will head off the ballot initiative on the subject [Deseret News].
  • The so-called “free range parenting” bill is on the way to the governor’s desk after it passed the legislature [Deseret News, Tribune]. 
  • Sen. Lyle Hillyard wants to repeal the 2005 law he authored allowing for families to use surrogates to carry a baby for them. He says the law is being applied to same-sex couples and single persons, which he did not intend for. A House committee tabled the bill [Tribune].
  • Rep. Dan McCay wants to eliminate primaries in special elections for Congress, giving parties the power to choose nominees however they want [Tribune].
  • School districts could use property tax money to pay for technology programs under a bill from Sen. Stuart Adams [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Karen Kwan wants to delay implementation of Utah’s lowest-in-the-nation blood alcohol bill until 2022 [Deseret News].
  • A local media company has stepped up to fund the Twilight Concert Series in Salt Lake City this summer [Fox 13, Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Salt Lake City will bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics, but the 2026 games are also a possibility [Yahoo].
  • The Salt Lake City airport won’t let a non-profit group post advertisements raising awareness about human trafficking [KUTV].

National headlines:

  • Senate leaders have agreed to a bipartisan deal to fund the government for two years. The deal would boost federal spending by $500 billion over the next two years, which as big of a spending bill as the 2009 stimulus [CNN].
  • What’s in the budget deal? Lots of domestic and military spending, but nothing to address DACA [Washington Post].
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held the House floor for eight hours pushing for Republicans to act on immigration legislation to help the thousands of “dreamers” who are in danger of being deported once DACA expires in March [Washington Post].
  • The GOP used to be the party of fiscal responsibility. Not anymore. In the past three months, the GOP-controlled Congress has boosted federal spending by more than $1.5 trillion, which has increased the gap between revenue and spending by another $1.1 trillion [Washington Post]. Some House Republicans are pushing back on the increasing spending [The Hill].
  • The head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security says Russian hackers were able to penetrate the voter rolls in several states during 2016 [NBC News].
  • Republican senators say they’re feeling more confident that President Trump won’t kill the NAFTA trade agreement after meeting with him [Reuters].
  • EPA head Scott Pruitt is saying that rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere may not be a bad thing for human life [Washington Post].

On this day in history:

  • 1692 – A doctor in Massachusetts Bay Colony said two village girls were possibly bewitched, a charge that set off the Salem witch trials.
  • 1693 – The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II.
  • 1837 – Richard Johnson becomes the first Vice President of the United States chosen by the U.S. Senate.
  • 1865 – Delaware refuses to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Slavery was outlawed in the United States, including Delaware, when the Amendment was ratified by the requisite number of states later that year. Delaware ratified the Thirteenth Amendment on February 12, 1901.
  • 1910 – The Boy Scouts of America is incorporated by William D. Boyce.
  • 1915 – D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, the first American full-length motion picture, opened in Los Angeles. The movie was a smash hit, but many found its treatment of race offensive.
  • 1922 – President Warren G. Harding introduces the first radio in the White House.
  • 1924 – The first state execution in the U.S. by gas chamber takes place in Nevada.
  • 1963 – Travel, financial and commercial transactions by U.S. citizens to Cuba are made illegal by the Kennedy administration.
  • 2002 – The Winter Olympic Games opened in Salt Lake City.