Situational awareness – March 27, 2018

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

Utahns don’t think the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in 2016. None of the ballot initiatives have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot yet, but a few are getting close. President Trump’s approval rating is the highest in nearly a year. 

Tick Tock

  • 20 days until the signature-gathering deadline for statewide ballot initiatives (4/15/2018)
  • 26 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 33 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 92 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 225 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 308 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 954 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day

Utahns say “No collusion”

A new survey finds a slim majority of Utahns say there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election [Utah Policy].

Which initiatives will make the 2018 ballot

According to records obtained through a GRAMA request, we now know how many signatures the various ballot initiatives have in their quest to qualify for the ballot. The medical cannabis petition is the closest to qualifying right now. However, the Keep My Voice initiative has not submitted a single signature so far [Utah Policy].

Are gun opponents going too far?

Jared Whitley argues that gun control advocates keep shooting themselves in the foot with their rhetoric [Utah Policy].

Political bracket challenge

We had another big upset as House Majority Leader Brad Wilson knocked off Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox on Monday. Here are the rest of the results [Utah Policy].

We’ve got four more matchups in our round of 16 for you today [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines

  • Speakers at Rep. Chris Stewart’s annual security conference say it’s much too early to judge President Trump on foreign policy. They also say there’s an urgent need to address Russian hacking ahead of the 2018 election cycle [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney says he will be more conservative on immigration than President Trump [Daily Herald].
  • Utah County is backing away from vote-by-mail for the 2018 election [Daily Herald].
  • Rep. Mia Love is catching some heat for backing off a pledge to support stronger gun measures according to social media posts in a private Facebook group [Think Progress].
  • LDS Church leaders announced changes on Monday to policies on how bishops and stake presidents handle allegations of sexual abuse [Deseret News].
  • The University of Utah and Utah State University are considering 4 percent tuition hikes next year [Tribune].
  • Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman says it’s time for that country to demonstrate more responsible behavior if they want a better relationship with the U.S. [Tribune].
  • The NetSmartz program, which teaches internet safety, received state funding from lawmakers for another year [Tribune].

National headlines

  • President Donald Trump is having trouble attracting top legal firms to represent him in the Russia investigation. Why? Because Trump has a history of not paying his lawyers and not listening to their advice [Washington Post].
  • President Trump is reportedly talking about bringing back Rob Porter, the aide who resigned after allegations he beat his two ex-wives [New York Times].
  • Weird story: Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei suggested House Speaker Paul Ryan is planning to resign from office this spring. Ryan’s office immediately dismissed the speculation [Washington Post].
  • Poll #1: President Trump’s approval rating sits at 42%, which is the highest level in nearly a year [The Hill].
  • Poll #2: Those who say they are most enthusiastic about voting in November’s midterm elections give President Trump the highest disapproval ratings [Washington Post].
  • The 2020 Census will include a question about citizenship status, which sparked outrage from civil rights groups. California officials announced the state will sue the Trump administration immediately over the controversial question [Politico].
  • White House attorneys are investigating whether two giant loans made to Jared Kushner’s family business may have violated federal ethics laws [Wall Street Journal].
  • Russia is warning of retaliation after more than 20 countries, including the U.S., expelled at least 100 diplomats over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the U.K. [CNN].

On this day in history

  • 1794 – The U.S. government establishes a permanent navy and authorizes the building of six frigates.
  • 1866 – President Andrew Johnson vetoes the Civil Rights Act of 1866. His veto is overridden by Congress. 
  • 1886 – Geronimo, Apache warrior, surrenders to the U.S. Army, ending the main phase of the Apache Wars.
  • 1915 – Typhoid Mary, the first healthy carrier of disease ever identified in the U.S., is put into quarantine, where she would remain for the rest of her life.