Situational awareness – March 22, 2018

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Welcome to Utah’s must-read daily political news roundup. 

Lee and Hatch get positive approval ratings from Utahns. Caucus attendance for Utah Republicans was down significantly this year. Congress reaches a deal on a $1.3 trillion spending bill.

Tick Tock

  • 24 days until the signature-gathering deadline for statewide ballot initiatives (4/15/2018)
  • 30 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 37 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 96 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 229 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 312 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 958 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day

Lee, Hatch see their approval rating tick upwards

Our new poll shows Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch get positive job approval ratings from Utahns according to our new survey [Utah Policy].

Caucus attendance down

Utah Republicans say their caucus attendance on Tuesday night was about 1/3 of what they saw in 2016. It was also down 10-15% from 2014 [Utah Policy].

A close race in Utah’s 4th CD

An internal poll from Ben McAdams’ campaign says the race against Rep. Mia Love is a statistical tie, but Love’s campaign is casting doubt on those numbers [Utah Policy].

Planning for Utah’s transportation future

Dana Meier says Utah is well positioned to tackle transportation issues in the coming years [Utah Policy].

Final round #2 matchups in our political bracket challenge

Cast your votes for the last four matchups in the second round of our 2018 political bracket [Utah Policy].

Check out the results from Wednesday that saw Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Sen. Jim Dabakis advance to the round of 16 [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines

  • Jon Huntsman Jr., the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, says he believes President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will have a formal meeting sometime soon [Deseret News].
  • Rep. John Curtis denies the claim in a lawsuit that he protected Provo’s former police chief from sexual misconduct claims when he was that city’s mayor [Tribune].
  • Utah reaches an agreement with big tobacco companies to keep millions of dollars of settlement money flowing to the state [Deseret News].
  • Gov. Gary Herbert signs into law a measure allowing women in Utah to get birth control from a pharmacist instead of having to visit a doctor each time they need a refill [Deseret News].
  • Gov. Herbert also signed a bill to allow the use of medical cannabis by terminally ill patients [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • St. George is the nation’s fastest-growing metro area, while Morgan County is the 8th fastest growing county according to new Census Bureau estimates [Deseret News, Tribune].

National headlines

  • Congressional negotiators reach an agreement on a $1.3 trillion spending bill. The House plans to vote on the bill Thursday, less than 24 hours after the bill text was introduced. Congress is facing a Friday deadline to avoid a government shutdown [Washington Post].
  • What’s in that massive spending bill? Here’s a list [CNN].
  • President Trump is set to slam China with at least $50 billion in tariffs and other financial penalties for stealing trade secrets and technology [New York Times].
  • Investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller have discussed with President Trump’s lawyers four topics they want to discuss with the president [CNN].
  • Senior FBI official Andrew McCabe, who was fired last week, was overseeing a criminal investigation into “a lack of candor” by Attorney General Jeff Sessions who was not forthcoming about contacts with Russian officials during testimony before Congress. McCabe himself was fired by Sessions for a “lack of candor” [ABC News].
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly probing the Trump campaign’s connections to data firm Cambridge Analytica [ABC News].
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is vowing to improve the social platform’s privacy protections after it was discovered that data firm Cambridge Analytica accessed millions of profiles without permission. Facebook knew about the breach, but only recently acknowledged it  [New York Times].
  • President Trump told Russian President Vladimir Puting that he expected to meet with him soon during a phone call earlier this week. That remark caught Trump’s aides off guard as they have not been instructed to prepare for a possible meeting [Washington Post].
  • Republican leaders in the House are terrified that some members who haven’t faced a serious electoral challenge in years don’t understand the danger they may be facing during the 2018 midterms [Politico]. 
  • Kellyanne Conway is moving closer to becoming the next White House communications director [Atlantic].

On this day in history

  • 1621 – The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony sign a peace treaty with Massasoit of the Wampanoags.
  • 1622 – Jamestown massacre: Algonquians kill 347 English settlers.
  • 1630 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony outlaws the possession of cards, dice and gaming tables.
  • 1765 – The British Parliament passes the Stamp Act that introduces a tax to be levied directly on the American colonies.
  • 1791 – Congress enacted legislation forbidding slave trading with foreign nations.
  • 1871 – In North Carolina, Williams Woods Holden becomes the first governor of a U.S. state to be removed from office by impeachment.
  • 1872 – Illinois becomes the first state to require gender equality in employment.
  • 1963 – Please Please Me, the debut album from the Beatles, is released in Britain.
  • 1972 – Congress sends the Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification.
  • 1972 – In Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Supreme Court decides that unmarried persons have the right to possess contraceptives.