Situational awareness – March 8, 2018

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Welcome to Utah’s must-read daily political news roundup. We made it! The final day of the 2018 Legislature is upon us.

The moneyman behind Keep My Voice is trying to cut a deal with Count My Vote. Utah lawmakers advance a fix for the GOP ballot chaos, along with a sneaky attempt to repeal SB54. The Our Schools Now deal moves out of a committee, but lawmakers still don’t know if they have the votes.

Tick Tock:

  • Today is the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • Tomorrow the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 7 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 12 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 44 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 51 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 110 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 242 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 326 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 972 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

SCOOP! Are the caucus/convention defenders blinking? has learned that Dave Bateman, who is funding the Utah GOP’s fight against SB54 and is a significant player in the Keep My Voice ballot initiative, is attempting to cut a deal with organizers of Count My Vote. It’s not surprising he’d try this move. Polls show only 17% of Utahns support the Keep My Voice proposal [Utah Policy].

Lawmakers advance a sneaky attempt to kill SB54

Along with a bill to fix the ballot chaos caused by the Utah GOP Central Committee, the House passed a bill that repeals SB54 if voters reject Count My Vote in November OR if the CMV initiative fails to make the ballot [Utah Policy].

‘Tis the season

The end of an election-year legislative session usually means retirements on the Hill. We’ve compiled a list of who has already announced they’re not coming back, and who we hear may not run again [Utah Policy].

UTA overhaul shifts legal counsel to the AG’s office

The bill to radically change the Utah Transit Authority eliminates the agency’s in-house counsel, moving those operations to the Attorney General’s office [Utah Policy].

A radical change to public education in Utah may be coming

The House signals they may get on board with Sen. Jim Dabakis’ constitutional amendment to eliminate the state school board, but they may make some changes [Utah Policy].

A different kind of bracket challenge

Who is the most powerful person or entity in Utah politics? Send us your nominations, and we’ll announce the seedings and tournament bracket next week [Utah Policy]. 

Other Utah headlines

  • The school funding deal brokered with Our Schools Now moves out of a House committee, but backers are still looking for votes [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Mike Noel drops his proposal to rename a highway after President Donald Trump saying he was worn down by the personal attacks being leveled at him [Deseret News].
  • The controversial Down syndrome abortion bill may not get out of the Senate Rules Committee before the end of the session at midnight Thursday [Deseret News].
  • Salt Lake City officials are not happy with last-minute changes made to a bill establishing a new board to control development in the city’s northwest quadrant [Deseret News].
  • Lawmakers drop a plan to require cities without affordable housing to help subsidize those that do [Deseret News].
  • The bill to drastically change the Utah Transit Authority will allow counties to raise sales taxes slightly after next year’s legislative session [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • A bill allowing the legislature to get involved in court cases challenging laws they pass is on the way to the governor’s desk, but Gov. Gary Herbert may veto the measure [Deseret NewsTribune].
  • Gov. Herbert issues an executive order banning some state employees from lobbying lawmakers [Fox 13].
    • The Utah legislature votes to rename Starvation State Park after Utah Parks Director Fred Hayes who passed away last week [Deseret News].

    • The Grand County Council passes a resolution calling for more local control over short-term rentals [Moab Times-Independent].

    National headlines

    • Special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly has proof that a secret 2017 meeting in Seychelles just before President Trump’s inauguration was an attempt to establish a back channel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin. A cooperating witness has told investigators the meeting was set up so a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow [Washington Post].
    • President Donald Trump, against the advice of his lawyers, asked key witnesses in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation about matters they discussed with investigators [New York Times].
    • President Donald Trump’s lawyer secretly obtained a temporary restraining order last week to prevent an adult film actress from speaking publicly about her alleged affair with the president [New York Times].
    • President Donald Trump is ready to finalize his plans for stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum, but there may be temporary exemptions for Canada and Mexico [New York Times].
    • Blue collar workers do not see a dramatic rise in their paychecks because of the Trump tax cuts. On average, they report $2 and $40 per paycheck [New York Times].
    • Florida’s legislature approves some gun control measures in defiance of the NRA, along with a program to train and arm some school employees [Washington Post].
    • President Trump plans to meet with video game executives to discuss the link between violent video games and shooting incidents [Reuters].
    • Former White House communications director Hope Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee last week that her email had been “hacked” because she is unable to access an old account [NBC News].
    • Likely 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren announces she is donating $5,000 to every state Democratic Party in the U.S. [Politico].
    • News anchors at Sinclair-owned TV stations across the country are being asked to record media bashing promos that decry national outlets that report “fake stories.” Sinclair owns or operates 173 TV stations across the country, including KUTV in Salt Lake City [CNN Money].
    • Amazon Alexa’s are randomly laughing and refusing to do what their owners ask them [The Verge].

    On this day in history

    • 1618 – Johannes Kepler discovers the third law of planetary motion.
    • 1775 – An anonymous writer, thought to be Thomas Paine, publishes “African Slavery in America,” the first article in the American colonies calling for the emancipation of slaves and the abolition of slavery.
    • 1817 – The New York Stock Exchange is founded.
    • 1910 – French aviator Raymonde de Laroche becomes the first woman to receive a pilot’s license.
    • 1913 – The Internal Revenue Service began to levy and collect income taxes in the United States.
    • 1917 – The U.S. Senate votes to limit filibusters by adopting the cloture rule.
    • 1917 – Strikes and riots in St. Petersburg marked the start of the Russian Bolshevik revolution.
    • 1924 – A mine disaster kills 172 coal miners near Castle Gate, Utah.
    • 1971 – The Fight of the Century between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali commences. Frazier wins in 15 rounds via unanimous decision.
    • 1983 – While addressing a convention of Evangelicals, President Ronald Reagan labels the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”