Situational awareness – March 2, 2018

Good Friday morning from Salt Lake City. There are just 5 working days until the end of the 2018 Utah Legislature.

New emails show oil drilling was a significant factor in Trump’s decision on Bears Ears. A Utah GOP rule change could damage Republicans and boost Democrats at the ballot box in November. Utahns support a tax hike to pay for schools.

Tick Tock:

  • 6 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 7 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 13 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 18 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 50 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 57 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 116 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 248 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 332 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 978 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Emails show oil drilling and coal mining played a central role in the decision to shrink two Utah national monuments

The New York Times got their hands on Interior Department emails showing oil drilling, grazing, and coal and uranium mining played a big part in how the borders for the smaller national monuments announced by President Trump last year were drawn [Utah Policy].

Utahns support Our Schools Now

Even though Lawmakers are pushing to find more cash for Utah’s underfunded schools, Utahns say they support the ballot initiative to hike sales and income taxes to boost funding by $700 million per year according to our new poll [Utah Policy].

Republicans running out of time to find solution to Utah GOP bylaw change

The bylaw change by the Utah GOP Central Committee may well force all Republicans to gather signatures to get on the ballot unless the legislature can find a fix. They may not have enough time, or the votes, to get there before the session ends next week [Utah Policy].

Wading through a totally bananas week

We run down the big stories from the last week in Utah politics, and explain the implications in our week-in-review! It’s well worth your time [Utah Policy]. It’s also available in a podcast form if you want to listen on the go [Utah Policy]. 

Other Utah headlines:

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch says people who support Obamacare are “the stupidest, dumbass people” he’s ever met [Mediaite].
  • As we first told you on Wednesday, Republicans on the Hill are working on an income and corporate tax break as part of an overall tax package [Deseret News].
  • Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes says he expects lawmakers to take action to prevent school shootings before the end of the session, but Senate President Wayne Niederhauser is not in any hurry to pass that legislation. Instead, he thinks the solutions should come from the local level [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Rep. Mike Noel wants to rename a road in southern Utah after President Donald Trump [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • A House committee rejected a bid to hike the minimum wage to $12/hour [Tribune].
  • New Rep. Travis Seegmiller, who took over after Rep. Jon Stanard resigned earlier this year, says he’s worried about the citizen initiative process and “nervous about empowering the citizenry to intervene so swiftly” [Tribune].
  • The Utah State School board came out against Sen. Jim Dabakis’ proposed constitutional amendment that replaces the board with a single state superintendent [Deseret News].
  • Embattled Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves has been mostly working from home since allegations of sexual harassment were leveled against him [Daily Herald].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch is not a fan of President Donald Trump’s proposal to hike tariffs on steel and aluminum imports [Tribune].
  • Gail Miller announces she’s giving about 10,000 a $1,000 bonus in their next paycheck [Deseret News].

National headlines

  • President Donald Trump reportedly made the announcement on Thursday that he planned to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum without telling his staff it was coming [Washington Post].
  • NRA lobbyists say President Trump may back off from the embrace of gun control measures he demonstrated during a televised meeting earlier this week [New York Times].
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller is preparing a new round of charges targeting Russians who hacked and leaked emails stolen from Democrats ahead of the 2016 election [NBC News].
  • The Trump administration is reportedly considering military action against North Korea if that country builds a nuclear missile that could hit the continental U.S. [CNN].
  • A new poll shows nearly half of Americans agree with Nancy Pelosi’s comment that companies are only giving workers “crumbs” while executives get big bonuses from the GOP tax plan passed last year [Washington Post].
  • President Trump floats the idea of executing drug dealers as a way to combat the opioid crisis [Washington Post].
  • National security adviser H.R. McMaster is reportedly preparing to leave the Trump administration as early as next month [NBC News].
  • Questions are still lingering about how Melania Trump obtained a green card that is normally reserved for people with “extraordinary ability.” The program is commonly known as the “Einstein visa” [Washington Post].

On this day in history

  • 1807 – Congress passes the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, disallowing the importation of new slaves into the country.
  • 1836 – Texas proclaimed independence from Mexico.
  • 1867 – Congress passes the first Reconstruction Act.
  • 1877 – Just two days before the inauguration, Congress declares Rutheford B. Hayes the winner of the presidential election even though Samuel J. Tilden won the popular vote.
  • 1903 – In New York City the Martha Washington Hotel opens, becoming the first hotel exclusively for women.
  • 1933 – The film King Kong opens at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
  • 1962 – Wilt Chamberlain sets the single-game scoring record in the NBA by scoring 100 points.
  • 1965 – The US and Republic of Vietnam Air Force begin Operation Rolling Thunder, a sustained bombing campaign against North Vietnam.