Situational awareness – March 30, 2018

Good Friday morning from Salt Lake City. Thanks for reading Utah’s must-read daily political news roundup. 

Herbert will oppose the medical marijuana ballot measure. Dayton steps down. Mueller investigating Sessions’ meeting with Russian officials at the Republican National Convention.

Tick Tock

  • 16 days until the signature-gathering deadline for statewide ballot initiatives (4/15/2018)
  • 22 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 29 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 38 days until the final day a veto override session may begin (5/7/2018)
  • 88 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 221 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 304 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 950 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here are the news stories driving your Friday…

Herbert comes out hard against medical cannabis initiative

Gov. Gary Herbert fires the first salvo in opposition to the ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Utah, saying it is flawed and may lead to recreational use [Utah Policy].

Dayton calls it quits

Citing medical reasons, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, announces she won’t run for re-election and will resign from the Utah Legislature in June [Utah Policy].

What a week!

Gary Herbert, veto overrides, medical marijuana, Keep My Voice won’t make the ballot, and Utahns say they don’t want to pay for Trump’s border wall. Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick break down the big stories from the past week in Utah politics [Utah Policy].

There’s a podcast version of our week in review if you prefer to listen on the go [Utah Policy].

Herbert might lose this fight

Bob Bernick argues that Gov. Gary Herbert may finally lose a veto showdown with lawmakers this time around [Utah Policy].

Political bracket “Final Four”

You voted and Speaker Greg Hughes, House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, Attorney General Sean Reyes and the “Buckshot Caucus” all advance to the semi-finals of our bracket challenge. Check out the updated bracket here [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines

  • Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov asked Sen. Orrin Hatch for his help in securing meetings with U.S. lawmakers and officials who have refused to meet with him because of the ongoing controversy surrounding Russia [Politico].
  • Utah’s top federal prosecutor, John Huber, will lead an investigation into a number of concerns raised by Republican lawmakers, including whether the DOJ appropriately investigated the Uranium One situation and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state [ABC News].
  • Utah County reverses course and decides to proceed with vote by mail for the 2018 election [Daily Herald].
  • New documents from the Utah Transit Authority details why the agency says it will cost $50 million to change its name. It also warns that the law overhauling the transit agency could lead to drastic cuts in service [Deseret News].
  • Salt Lake City wants public input on a pair of proposed tax hikes that could lead to $120 million in city revenue [Deseret News].
  • Grand County Council member Jaylin Hawks has been found in violation of county ethics laws because she did not recuse herself from discussions where she had a conflict of interest [Moab Times-Independent].
  • KSL radio host Doug Wright announces his semi-retirement. He will also discontinue his daily talk show in June [Deseret News].
  • Lillehammer, Norway may bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics, the same year Salt Lake City wants to host the event [Associated Press].

National headlines

  • Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation pressured former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates to talk about the Trump campaign’s contact with Russians. Earlier this week, Mueller revealed how Gates was in contact with a man he knew had ties to Russian intelligence in the weeks before the 2016 election [CNN].
  • Mueller’s team is reportedly probing conversations Attorney General Jeff Sessions had with then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at the Republican National Convention last year. They’re also asking about how and why Republican Party platform language hostile to Russia was deleted from a section related to Ukraine [Reuters].
  • President Trump has told his aides to not talk publicly about his administration’s shift to a more aggressive stance against Russia because it may agitate Russian President Vladimir Putin [NBC News].
  • Russia expelled 60 US diplomats to retaliate for a mass expulsion of Russian diplomats last week [New York Times].
  • A Facebook Vice President defended the company’s data collection practices saying they are justified because they helped the company’s mission of connecting people. He also said those very same practices may get somebody killed [BuzzFeed].
  • Connecticut Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty kept an aide on staff for three months after she learned he threatened, assaulted and sexually harassed another staffer [Washington Post].
  • President Trump says the US will withdraw from Syria “very soon.” That’s apparently news to the Pentagon [CNN].
  • Conservative host Laura Ingraham quickly apologized for taunting Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg after advertisers started fleeing her show [New York Times].
  • Wall Street Journal staffers accused editor-in-cheif Gerry Baker of suppressing a story because it was “too liberal” [Politico].
  • The EPA plans to roll back rules requiring cars to be more fuel efficient and produce less pollution [New York Times].

On this day in history

  • 1822 – The Florida Territory is created.
  • 1842 – Ether anesthesia is used for the first time in an operation by American surgeon Dr. Crawford Long.
  • 1855 – “Border Ruffians” from Missouri invade Kansas and force the election of a pro-slavery legislature. 
  • 1867 – Alaska is purchased from Russia for $7.2 million by U.S. Secretary of State William Seward.
  • 1870 – The 15th Amendment, granting African-American men the right to vote, was adopted into the U.S. Constitution.
  • 1981 – President Ronald Reagan is shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C. hotel by John Hinckley, Jr.; three others are wounded in the same incident.