What You Need to Know About Utah Politics Today – October 15, 2013

Countdown:  There are 22 days to the 2013 municipal elections, 106 days until the start of the 2014 Legislature, 381 days until the 2014 midterm elections and 815 days until the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.

We’re back after the long weekend. There’s plenty of news on the government shutdown front:

  • Utah’s national parks re-open after the state loans money to the feds to fund their operations [Tribune].
  • Rep. Jim Matheson finds himself siding with Congressional Republicans during the shutdown [Tribune].
  • Donna McAleer, who is challenging Rep. Rob Bishop in 2014, slams Bishop for not working to avert the shutdown [Tribune].
  • Gov. Herbert calls a special session for this Wednesday to approve more money to open the state’s national parks and to fund other crucial operations during the government shutdown [Tribune].
  • There’s no guarantee the state will ever be refunded the money they loaned to the feds to open national parks [Daily Herald].
  • Sen. Mike Lee joins a group of protestors who push through barriers at the World War Two memorial in Washington, D.C. [Tribune].
  • Attorney General John Swallow pens an op-ed arguing the shutdown shows Utah would be better at managing public lands than the feds [Tribune].

In other Utah political news:

  • A group opposed to the “Count My Vote” initiative forms while organizers of CMV schedule a number of required public hearings [Tribune].
  • The Utah State Bar will not prosecute Attorney General John Swallow on charges of ethical violations [Tribune].
  • Two other investigations into Swallow’s behavior may stretch into 2014 [Deseret News].
  • Sen. Todd Weiler plans to run legislation during the 2014 session to protect the religious rights of students in public schools [Tribune].
  • Speculation is growing that Dan Liljenquist is getting ready to challenge Sen. Mike Lee in 2016 [Tribune].
  • The Sutherland Institute says lowering the legal blood-alcohol limit would reduce accidents on Utah’s roadways [Deseret News].
  • Utah’s defense in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is based, partially, on the fact that same-sex couples do not procreate [Tribune].
  • Utah officials say replacing a number of aging bridges would be very expensive [Tribune].
  • Quite a few governments are hiking taxes this year [Tribune].
  • If it works in Salt Lake City, the Utah Transit Authority might offer lower priced transit passes elsewhere [Tribune].
  • Sen. Steve Urquhart is battling with the operators of Dixie Ambulance over the company’s business practices [KUTV].