Situational awareness – March 1, 2018

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City, and welcome to March. It’s the happiest month of the year for basketball fans with March Madness just around the corner. There are just 6 working days until the end of the 2018 Utah Legislature.

Utah lawmakers are working on a $20 million tax cut package. Utahns give Gov. Gary Herbert and the Utah Legislature high approval ratings. President Trump seeming embraced sweeping gun control measures during a wild and surreal meeting on Wednesday.

Tick Tock:

  • 7 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 8 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 14 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 19 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 51 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 58 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 117 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 249 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 333 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 979 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

SCOOP: Lawmakers working on a $20 million tax cut

We did some digging and found out lawmakers are working on a package of income tax cuts, corporate tax cuts and property tax reform that is aiming at a $20 million net tax cut. The Senate is mostly on board, but the House is still looking for the votes [Utah Policy].

Herbert and Utah Legislators riding high in approval ratings

Our new poll shows 73% of Utahns approve of Gov. Gary Herbert’s job performance, while the Utah Legislature gets a 63% approval rating [Utah Policy].

Republican on Republican violence

We scooped on Tuesday that the Utah Legislature was mulling a move to counter a controversial bylaw passed by the Utah GOP Central Committee this past weekend. Wednesday, more details emerged that confirmed our earlier reporting [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Some good analysis here. Lawmakers who voted in favor of giving EnergySolutions a $1.7 million tax break received much higher campaign contributions than those who voted against the measure [Tribune].
  • Salt Lake City leaders hold a closed-door meeting to discuss how to respond to a bill creating a new entity to oversee development in the city’s northwest quadrant [Deseret News].
  • A transportation bill to change the governance of the Utah Transit Authority and raises vehicle registration fees to pay for transit projects barely passed the Senate on Wednesday. The bill also changes the name of the agency to Transit District Utah [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The House approved a bill that makes Utah cities without a homeless shelter help pay for those that do host the facilities [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • A House committee rejects a bill that would delay implementation of the lowest-in-the-nation blood alcohol level [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Mike Winder’s bid to fund improvements along the Jordan River won unanimous approval from a House committee on Wednesday [Deseret News].
  • Tesla may soon be able to sell cars in Utah after a House panel approved a bill to allow the company to own car dealerships in the state [Tribune].
  • Housing advocates are pushing lawmakers to pass a trio of bills to help provide low-income housing in Utah [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • A resolution on Utah’s Capitol Hill urges Congress to pass a law requiring the approval of the Utah Legislature before a president can declare a new national monument in the state [Tribune].
  • Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill launches his campaign for a third term in office [Deseret News].
  • The University of Utah says they will not punish applicants who are disciplined by their schools for participating in anti-gun marches [Tribune].
  • A new survey finds more than half of Utah teenagers who drink alcohol also use e-cigarettes or vaping devices [Tribune].

National headlines

  • President Trump stunned lawmakers with an hour-long televised discussion on Wednesday in which he seemingly embraced new and extensive gun restrictions that have long been opposed by the GOP and the NRA. Included was talk of seizing guns from mentally ill people or others who could be a risk before going to court. “Take the guns first, go through due process later,” said Trump [New York Times].
  • Jared Kushner’s real estate company received more than half a billion dollars in loans after he met with the heads of a private equity company and Citibank at the White House. The loan from Apollo Global Management was three times the amount they normally loan for real-estate ventures [New York Times].
  • Longtime Trump adviser Hope Hicks is leaving her job as White House communications director [New York Times].
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating President Trump’s efforts to oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions in July of 2017. His investigators are reportedly asking people pointed questions about whether those efforts were part of an effort to obstruct justice [Washington Post].
  • Mueller is also asking witnesses questions about whether then-candidate Donald Trump was aware Democratic emails were stolen before that knowledge was public and if he was involved in the strategic release of those emails [NBC News].
  • New York bank regulators are asking Deutsche Bank and other financial firms about loans made to Jared Kushner and other financial arrangements, including lines of credit, extended to Kushner and other members of his family [Reuters].
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wal Mart raise the age for buying a firearm to 21. The age increase will go into effect even if local laws allow a lower age [Politico].
  • The Trump administration is ready to roll out new tariffs on aluminum and steel [Politico].
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country has developed new strategic nuclear weapons that cannot be intercepted and can strike anywhere on the globe [Associated Press]. 

On this day in history

  • 1565 – The city of Rio de Janeiro is founded.
  • 1642 – Georgeana, Massachusetts (now known as York, Maine) becomes the first incorporated city in the United States.
  • 1692 – Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba are brought before local magistrates in Salem Village, Massachusetts, beginning what would become known as the Salem witch trials. Eventually, 19 men and women were executed.
  • 1780 – Pennsylvania becomes the first state to abolish slavery.
  • 1781 – The Continental Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation.
  • 1790 – The first United States census is authorized.
  • 1803 – Ohio was admitted as the 17th state.
  • 1815 – Napoleon returns to France from his banishment on Elba, start of the Hundred Days.
  • 1845 – President John Tyler signs a bill authorizing the United States to annex the Republic of Texas.
  • 1867 – Nebraska becomes the 37th state. Lancaster, Nebraska is renamed Lincoln and becomes the state capital.
  • 1872 – Yellowstone national park is established as the world’s first national park.
  • 1936 – The Hoover Dam is completed.
  • 1953 – Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin suffers a stroke and collapses; he dies four days later.
  • 1954 – Armed Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire from the gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives, injuring five Representatives.
  • 1971 – A bomb exploded in a restroom in the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol, causing $300,000 damage but no injuries. The radical leftist group Weather Underground claimed responsibility.
  • 1974 – Seven people are indicted for their role in the Watergate break-in and charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice.