Situational Awareness: Friday, Feb. 16, 2018

Good Friday morning from Salt Lake City. Utah Policy Daily will take off President’s Day on Monday. Have a great holiday weekend and we’ll re-connect on Tuesday.

Realistic solutions are elusive as nation struggles with another horrific school shooting. Low-key Mitt Romney announcement expected today. U.S. Senate struggles mightily with immigration reform. Bernick: Too many state employees hanging out at the Legislature? Webb: Yes, ‘elitists’ spend big money on politics – including to prop up the caucus/convention system.

Tick Tock:

  • 20 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 21 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 27 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 32 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 64 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 71 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 130 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 262 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 346 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 992 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Utah and Mormon community respond to school shooting

LDS community mourns Florida shooting victims, including two Mormon girls [Deseret News].

Legislators pass minor school safety bill, but debate how to best protest students [Tribune].

Romney to make it official

Romney calls legislative leaders in advance of announcement; most back him [Deseret News]. Romney would be a junior senator, but would have large impact and influence [Tribune]. Governor and GOP legislators defend Romney against attacks by Republican state chair [Tribune].

What about those ‘elitists’ using wealth in Utah politics?

Webb: Far right has its own wealthy patron bankrolling anti-Count My Vote efforts [Utah Policy].

Speaker Greg Hughes said to be on short list for Salt Lake Chamber CEO

Hughes says he’s focused on finishing current legislation session, but wouldn’t rule out a Chamber role. [Deseret News].

Is vote-by-mail too successful for some legislative leaders?

Bob Bernick: Mail-in balloting is becoming very successful. Some legislative leaders are suggesting “fair compromise” omnibus bill to make reforms [Utah Policy].

Temporary changes made in Senate leadership

Sen. Kevin Van Tassell will serve as majority leader while Sen. Ralph Okerlund prepares for possible heart and kidney transplants [Deseret News].

SB136 ushers in exciting new era for Utah transportation

Legislation breaks down silos and creates integrated, multi-modal approach to infrastructure development [Utah Policy].

National headlines:

  • Tragedy in Florida: Nation mourns 17 lives senselessly lost. Solutions are elusive. [Washington Post]. AG Jeff Sessions says Justice Department will step up federal prosecutions of gun crimes [The Hill].
  • Wall Street Journal suggests Trump might get an immigration deal if aide Stephen Miller wasn’t directing the policy [WSJ].
  • Inside the Senate’s ugly immigration breakdown [Politico] [The Hill].

On this day in history:

  • 1934 – Thousands of Socialists battle Communists at a rally in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
  • 1945 – American paratroopers land on Corregidor, in a campaign to liberate the Philippines.
  • 1959 – Fidel Castro takes the oath as Cuban premier in Havana.
  • 1965 – Four persons are held in a plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, and the Washington Monument.