Situational awareness – February 20, 2018

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. Back to work after a cold and snowy Presidents Day weekend. There are just 13 working days until the end of the 2018 Utah Legislature.

Trump endorses Romney. Utah Republicans are floating a “purity test” for candidates. Americans say President Trump and Congress aren’t doing enough to prevent gun violence.

Tick Tock:

  • 16 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 17 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 23 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 28 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 60 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 67 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 126 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 258 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 342 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 988 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Burying the hatchet

President Donald Trump apparently lets bygones be bygones and tweeted out an endorsement of Mitt Romney’s Senate run in Utah. Romney accepted the olive branch [Utah Policy].

Purity test?

Some hardliners on the Utah GOP Central Committee want to pass a rule that will allow them to decide which candidates can actually call themselves Republicans, and which cannot [Utah Policy].

The race for 113,000 signatures

Our “Political Insiders” say the “Count My Vote” and “Our Schools Now” ballot initiatives have the best chance to reach the 113,000 signature threshold to be included on the 2018 ballot [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • A group of Utah students is planning a March rally at the capitol to push for more gun regulations in the aftermath of the latest school massacre in Florida [Tribune].
  • An alcohol industry group says Rep. Norm Thurston’s bill to carve out an exemption for gun owners in Utah’s strictest-in-the-nation DUI law is hypocritical [Deseret News].
  • Outdoor billboard companies, who are big donors to Utah politicians, are pushing a bill to allow them to replace existing signs with digital ones without the approval of local governments [Tribune].
  • The Utah House is set to consider a bill allowing the production and sale of hemp products [Deseret News].
  • Sen. Curt Bramble wants to facilitate the development of 5G wireless networks in Utah with a bill allowing cities to deploy small-scale antennas [Fox 13]. 
  • Rep. Travis Seegmiller, who replaced Jon Stanard after he resigned suddenly due to a sex scandal, is trying to adjust to life on the Hill after joining the House mid-session [Fox 13].

National headlines:

  • A new national poll finds most Americans say President Trump and Congress aren’t doing enough to prevent mass shootings like last week’s school shooting in Florida. 58% said stricter gun control laws could have prevented the shooting, while 77% say more effective mental health screenings and treatment would have helped [Washington Post].
  • The army of Russian Twitter bots seized on the Florida school shooting, pushing out hashtags and topics on both sides of the argument to create discord and division [New York Times].
  • The White House says President Trump is supportive of efforts to improve background checks for gun purchases [The Hill]. 
  • Fascinating idea: If Congress doesn’t impose gun control measures, credit card companies could set new rules for the sale of guns. Already PayPal, Stripe, and Apple Pay do not allow the use of their services for the sale of guns. Other companies could follow suit [New York Times]. 
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly interested in White House adviser Jared Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his real estate company during the presidential transition period [CNN].
  • U.S. election officials aren’t sure they’re prepared to fend off likely Russian interference in the 2018 election [Reuters].
  • A court in Pennsylvania has redrawn that state’s congressional map because the old one was illegally gerrymandered to favor Republicans. The new map is much more hospitable to Democrats, boosting their chances of taking control of the House in 2018 [Politico].
  • Good news for Fox News fans. The channel is launching a streaming service called “Fox Nation” for their “superfans” [New York Times].

On this day in history:

  • 1792 – President George Washington signs the Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department.
  • 1872 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens in New York City.
  • 1933 – Congress proposes the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution, which will end prohibition in the United States.
  • 1935 – Caroline Mikkelsen becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.
  • 1962 – John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth, making three orbits in four hours, 55 minutes.
  • 1971 – The Emergency Broadcast System is accidentally activated in an erroneous national alert.