Situational awareness – March 5, 2018

Good Monday morning from Salt Lake City. Welcome to the final week of the 2018 Utah Legislature. There are just 4 working days remaining.

Lawmakers are pushing to make a school funding deal with “Our Schools Now.” Very few Utahns support the “Keep My Voice” ballot initiative. Congress aims at rolling back bank regulations.

Tick Tock:

  • 3 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 4 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 10 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 15 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 47 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 54 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 113 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 245 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 329 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 975 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

SCOOP! Let’s make a deal!

Legislative leaders are working behind the scenes with organizers of Our Schools Now to come up with more funding for schools. OSN is pushing for a sales and income tax hike to bring an estimated $700 million annually to Utah’s underfunded schools [Utah Policy].

Poll shows weak support for Keep My Voice

Only 17% of Utahns support the proposed ballot initiative to repeal SB54 and return to the caucus/convention system as the only path to the primary ballot for candidates (insert sad trombone noise). 75% of Utah voters say they support the current dual-track system [Utah Policy].

GOP lawmakers try to fix Utah GOP Central Committee snafu

HB485 simply instructs the state to ignore a bylaw change made by the Utah GOP Central Committee that could have an adverse effect on Republican candidates in November [Utah Policy].

Our “Political Insiders” don’t like the Utah GOP bylaw change

Our “Insider” panel and readers think the bylaw change made by a small group of Utah GOP Central Committee members, which would kick candidates who take the signature route to the ballot out of the party, is a terrible idea [Utah Policy].

“Red Flag” bill to prevent gun violence

Rep. Steve Handy unveils HB483, which would allow the police to get a court order to take away the guns from an “extremely dangerous” person [Utah Policy].

Civility goes out the window

Rep. Mike Noel’s email box is being flooded with nasty emails, but he says he’s trying to keep a good attitude [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines

  • Residents on Salt Lake City’s west side speak out about a bill to create a new entity to oversee development in the city’s northwest quadrant [Deseret News].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch apologizes for calling supporters of Obamacare “dumbasses” [Deseret News].
  • A group of low-income advocates says lawmakers should use part of a budget windfall to help poorer Utahns with an earned income credit [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Gage Froerer pulls his bill to abolish the death penalty in Utah [Deseret News].
  • Sen. Dan Hemmert’s bill to overhaul Medicaid gets a second chance after a committee voted to send it back to the Rules Committee last week [Deseret News].
  • A Senate committee unanimously advances Sen. Jim Dabakis’s constitutional amendment to eliminate the state school board in favor of a single state superintendent [Deseret News].
  • Utah lawmakers filed a record 1,359 bills during this session [Tribune].
  • Former Provo police Chief John King has been accused of sexual assault or harassment by at least five women, which raises questions why the city hired him [Deseret News].
  • Gov. Gary Herbert asks Utah faith leaders to pray for snow to help alleviate the state’s drought [Fox 13].

National headlines

  • Congress will not take action on immigration or gun control measures anytime soon [The Hill].
  • Members of Congress are preparing to deal with “erratic” behavior from President Donald Trump as they try to negotiate on a number of issues. “It’s something like a pinball machine,” said New York Republican Peter King [Washington Post].
  • The Senate is pushing to roll back banking regulations implemented in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. More than a dozen red state Democrats are on board with the plan [Washington Post].
  • Vulnerable members of Congress are staying on the sidelines of the gun debate following the Florida school shooting [Associated Press].
  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller is seeking documents and records of communications related to President Donald Trump and other campaign associates according to grand jury subpoenas obtained by multiple media organizations [NBC News].
  • Danger Will Robinson! GOP-related groups have poured more than $9 million into a Pennsylvania special congressional election this year, but it looks like Democrats are poised to flip control of the seat [Wall Street Journal].
  • The 2018 midterms get underway on Tuesday as Texas holds primary elections. Democrats are testing out their strategy that they hope will help them grab control of the House in November [Politico].
  • Republicans are worried voters will punish them at the ballot box this November because of President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum. However, they are planning to focus on the economy during the midterm elections [Politico].
  • The State Department has $120 million to prevent Russian interference in the 2018 midterms. So far, the agency hasn’t spent a single dime of that money. Alarmingly, none of the 23 analysts in the agency tasked with countering online disinformation from Russia speaks Russian [New York Times].

On this day in history

  • 1496 – King Henry VII of England issues letters patent to John Cabot and his sons, authorizing them to explore unknown lands.
  • 1770 – Boston Massacre. Five Americans, including Crispus Attucks, are fatally shot by British troops in an event that would contribute to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.
  • 1836 – Samuel Colt patents the first production-model revolver, the .34 caliber.
  • 1933 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares a “bank holiday,” closing all U.S. banks and freezing all financial transactions.
  • 1946 – Winston Churchill coins the phrase “Iron Curtain” in his speech at Westminster College, Missouri.
  • 1953 – Joseph Stalin dies in Moscow after suffering a stroke.
  • 1970 – The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons goes into effect after ratification by 43 nations.