Situational awareness – March 6, 2018

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. There are 3 working days remaining.

Our Schools Now proposes a deal with lawmakers. Lawmakers introduce the state’s $16.7 billion budget blueprint. A former Trump adviser has a very public meltdown.

Tick Tock:

  • 2 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 3 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 9 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 14 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 46 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 53 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 112 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 244 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 328 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 974 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Let’s make a deal!

Our Schools Now has offered to drop their ballot initiative that hikes income and property taxes to increase school funding if lawmakers agree to put a $0.10 per gallon tax hike on November’s ballot. The proposal also includes a property reform [Utah Policy].

Utah’s $16.7 billion budget

Lawmakers unwrap a budget proposal that boosts spending over this year by $600 million [Utah Policy].

Fixing the GOP mess

Internal GOP fissures surfaced as a House committee advanced a bill to fix the electoral quandary caused by the Utah GOP Central Committee last weekend [Utah Policy].

The Utah GOP’s white whale

Lawmakers may yet again try to repeal SB54, but it would only take effect if the Count My Vote ballot initiative passes in November [Utah Policy].

Some kinda record

Sen. Orrin Hatch moves into seventh place on the list of longest-serving U.S. Senators [Utah Policy].

This is a weird story

Former British spy Christopher Steele alleges in an unreleased memo that Russia pressured President Donald Trump into not picking Mitt Romney for Secretary of State [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Republicans on a House committee move ahead with Rep. Mike Noel’s bill to rename a southern Utah highway after President Donald Trump [Deseret News].
  • The House Transportation Committee pruned back a sweeping transportation bill to reform the Utah Transit Authority. Gone is a hike in vehicle registration fees, except for electric and hybrid cars [Deseret News].
  • The Senate passed a watered-down bill to create a new governing body to control development in Salt Lake City’s northwest quadrant [Deseret News].
  • The House approved a bill allowing the removal of signs in restaurants signifying the establishment is not a bar [Deseret News].
  • A controversial bill to keep big cities from managing watersheds outside of their boundaries was killed in a Senate committee on Monday [Deseret News].
  • Sen. Jim Dabakis’ bill to get rid of the state school board sailed through the Senate on Monday. The proposed constitutional amendment now heads to the House [Tribune].
  • A House committee voted down Rep. Steve Handy’s “red flag” bill which proposed a mechanism to remove guns from people who could be a risk to others [Deseret News].
  • A bill to fine cities that don’t have enough affordable housing, with the money going to pay for homeless shelters in other Utah cities, moves ahead, but changes may be coming [Deseret News].
  • The House passes Rep. Robert Spendlove’s Medicaid expansion bill that includes work requirements and a cap on state spending [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • A bill to end non-compete contracts for news media workers moves out of a Senate committee and now heads to the floor for a final round of voting [Deseret News].
  • Whoops! The Utah State Bar wants to know how they ended up sending boobs to every lawyer in the state [Fox 13, Deseret News].
  • Utah’s undocumented immigrants are still waiting for Congress to fix the DACA issue after the deadline for ending the program set by the Trump administration passes [Tribune].
  • The cost of rebuilding the Salt Lake City airport is approaching $3.6 billion, but it’s still on time and on budget [Deseret News].

National headlines

  • Breaking overnight! North Korea says it is willing to discuss ending its nuclear weapons program and would be open to normalizing relations with the United States [Washington Post].
  • Despite pressure from Republicans in Washington, President Trump says he won’t back down from the steel and aluminum tariffs he proposed last week [New York Times].
  • Europe is poised to retaliate against the U.S. tariffs by imposing their own targeting items produced in key Republican districts [Bloomberg].
  • Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran will resign on April 1 due to health reasons, triggering a special election. Both of the Mississippi Senate seats will be on the ballot this year [CNN].
  • Democrats are swarming the polls in Texas in that state’s primaries, with turnout up more than 6% in the state’s biggest counties, while Republican turnout is basically unchanged from the last midterm elections [Politico].
  • The $130,000 payment from President Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to a porn actor to keep her quiet about an affair she had with Trump was flagged as suspicious by a bank. Cohen also complained to friends that he had not yet been reimbursed for that payment [Wall Street Journal].
  • STOP TALKING! Former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg gave a series of totally insane television interviews after he announced he was refusing to comply with a subpoena from special counsel Robert Muller. In these interviews he made a series of increasingly bonkers claims:
    • That Trump “may have done something during the election” with the Russians when asked if he thought Mueller had evidence against the president [Mediaite].
    • Mueller thinks Trump is a “Manchurian candidate,” which is a reference to the Frank Sinatra movie about an American soldier brainwashed by a foreign nation [Mediaite].
    • He believes former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page was colluding with the Russians, calling him a “scumbag” [Mediaite

    • Trump brought all of this upon himself because he’s “an idiot” for firing former FBI director James Comey [Mediaite].
  • Teachers on strike. Teachers in West Virginia have been on strike for more than a week to protest their low pay and shrinking benefits [Vox]. Oklahoma teachers may walk out next month after lawmakers there voted down a bill to boost their pay [CNN].
  • Boring but important: The U.S. is poised to be the world’s largest oil producer sometime in the next decade [Wall Street Journal].

On this day in history

  • 1820 – The Missouri Compromise is signed into law by President James Monroe. The compromise allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state, brought Maine into the Union as a free state, and made the rest of the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase slavery-free.
  • 1836 – Battle of the Alamo: After a thirteen-day siege by an army of 3,000 Mexican troops, the 187 Texas volunteers, including frontiersman Davy Crockett and colonel Jim Bowie, defending the Alamo are killed and the fort is captured.
  • 1857 – The Supreme Court rules in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case that a slave could not sue for his freedom even though his owner died in a so-called “free state.”
  • 1869 – Dimitri Mendeleev presents the first periodic table to the Russian Chemical Society.
  • 1951 – The Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg begins.