Situational awareness – February 21, 2018

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. There are just 12 working days until the end of the 2018 Utah Legislature.

Utahns don’t support an abortion bill on Utah’s Capitol Hill. Dabakis won’t run again. President Trump orders a ban on “bump stocks.”

Tick Tock:

  • 15 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 16 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 22 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 27 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 59 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 66 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 125 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 257 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 341 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 987 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Do you like podcasts? Give us a download! Check out our podcasts and get our interviews with Utah political newsmakers and “Bernick and Schott on politics.” Hosts Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick have more than 60 years combined experience covering Utah politics, so they bring you knowledge and insight that’s unprecedented. You can subscribe using iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

I’m always available for you to send story ideas, tips, suggestions or if you’d like to start a curling team. I’ll even let you be the skip! Hit me up at [email protected].

If you have friends or colleagues who would enjoy receiving this daily news rundown, tell them they can subscribe to our newsletter here.

Here’s what’s driving the day:

Utahns are not behind a controversial abortion bill

Nearly 6 in 10 Utahns say lawmakers should not move forward with a bill to ban abortions if the sole reason is the child has Down syndrome. Legislative lawyers have said the bill would likely be found unconstitutional [Utah Policy].

Romney sprints to a massive lead

We polled Utahns to see which of the declared or rumored U.S. Senate candidates they would support in November. Not surprisingly, Mitt Romney has a 46-point lead over his closest competitor, Democrat Jenny Wilson. No other candidate got more than 3-percent against Romney [Utah Policy].

Bill to ban media non-compete contracts stoking tensions

House Speaker Greg Hughes is battling with big media companies over a bill that would ban non-compete contracts for professionals in the news media [Utah Policy].

Dabakis retiring

Democratic firebrand Sen. Jim Dabakis announced suddenly on Tuesday that he would not run for re-election in 2018. Dabakis said it was time to “get the hell out of the way” and let others serve [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines: 

  • The Utah House approved a measure to remove the state portion of the sales tax on food, while slightly raising other taxes [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Rep. John Curtis says Congress needs to take steps to avoid mass shootings in the wake of last week’s massacre at a Florida high school [Tribune].
  • Special interest groups are feeding lawmakers at the same time they’re asking them for funding [Tribune].
  • Legislative Republicans are pushing a measure to abolish Utah’s death penalty [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • A House committee approved a bill requiring lobbyists to take an annual course on how to avoid sexual harassment [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Rep. Justin Fawson has altered his online sex education bill to focus more on helping kids avoid pornography [Tribune].
  • A state task force aiming to reduce teen suicide unveiled their first set of recommendations which focus on prevention and crisis response [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The Utah Senate advanced a bill to require suicide hotlines to be staffed round-the-clock, or roll over to another line where a live human would answer [Deseret News].
  • A House panel approved a bill to require more polling places on election day. The bill also expands same-day voter registration to the whole state [Deseret News].
  • High schools in Utah could reject students who don’t live within the school’s boundaries under a bill that won preliminary Senate approval on Tuesday [Tribune].
  • Salt Lake City leaders will gather public input about a possible half-cent sales tax increase to pay for a backlog of maintenance projects. They also want to explore possibly putting an $87 million bond on the ballot [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Salt Lake City officials are optimistic they’ll come up with a plan that’s acceptable to both sides in their ongoing negotiations with legislative leaders about a proposed inland port in the city’s northwest quadrant [Deseret News].

National headlines:

  • White House advisor Jared Kushner and chief of staff John Kelly are locking horns over Kushner’s access to classified material. Kushner has been unable to get a security clearance from the FBI. Kushner reportedly has a voracious appetite for classified information, requesting more than anyone else in the White House [New York Times].
  • Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to have a secret meeting with the North Koreans during the Olympics, but the meeting was scuttled less than two hours before it was set to take place [Washington Post].
  • President Donald Trump ordered the Justice Department to come up with rules to prohibit so-called “bump stocks” that allow semiautomatic guns to be fired at a more rapid rate [Bloomberg].
  • President Trump is also reportedly “open” to the idea of raising the minimum age to buy a gun to 21-years-old, saying high school kids should not be able to purchase firearms [Axios].
  • Far-right media sites are pushing conspiracy theories following the massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school last week [New York Times]. 
  • A new nationwide poll finds only 25% of American workers have noticed a bigger paycheck after the GOP tax plan was passed last year [Politico].
  • Donald Trump Jr. says it’s “nonsense” that some are accusing the Trump family from profiting from the presidency [Associated Press].
  • Democrats flipped a GOP-controlled Kentucky legislative seat by 38 points on Tuesday. President Trump won the district by 49 points in 2016. That’s an incredible 85 point swing [The Hill].
  • Yikes! A survey of 843 women in the entertainment industry finds 94% of them say they’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted [USA Today].

On this day in history:

  • 1848 – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto.
  • 1878 – The first telephone directory is issued in New Haven, Connecticut. It listed 50 subscribers.
  • 1885 – The Washington Monument is dedicated.
  • 1916 – Germans launched the Battle of Verdun. More than 1 million soldiers in the German and French armies were killed in nearly 10 months of fighting. It was the longest battle of World War I.
  • 1953 – Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the double helix structure of the DNA molecule.
  • 1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audobon Ballroom in New York City.
  • 1972 – President Richard Nixon becomes the first president to visit the People’s Republic of China.
  • 1975 – Former U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell and former White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman are sentenced to prison for their roles in the Watergate scandal.