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Situational Analysis - February 19, 2021
It's Friday, Friday. Today is National Chocolate Mint Day - ice cream and Andes and BYU brownies, oh my!
If you only have time for one thing today: Check out highlights from NASA's Perseverance Rover that touched down on Mars yesterday! "Perseverance was the third robotic visitor from Earth to arrive at the red planet this month. Last week, two other spacecraft, Hope from the United Arab Emirates and Tianwen-1 from China, entered orbit around Mars." Perserverance is on a mission specifically to look for signs of (ancient) life. Very cool.
14 days to the end of the 2021 Utah Legislature (3/5/21)
54 days until the end of the Cox/Henderson administration's first 100 days (04/14/2021)
70 days until the Biden/Harris administration's first 100 days are up (04/30/2021)
Today At Utah PolicyTweets of the day: Friday fun
By Holly Richardson
This week's lighter side round-up: incredible cave art, animals and a bit of poetry
Friday change-of-pace: Do your members of Congress ever kick back & relax? Yes, and here's how
By LaVarr Webb
Politics has been rather intense and even ugly for the last several months. So, to lighten things up a bit, we asked Utah's congressional offices what their bosses like to when they have time to totally kick back and relax . . . to escape the craziness of Washington and forget, at least for a short time, the pressing issues of the day.Here's what they said (Sen. Mitt Romney's office declined to participate):
Guest opinion: Increased electric vehicle fees short-sighted approach that penalizes vehicle owners and hurts air quality
By Matt Frommer and Kevin Emerson
The Utah Legislature's proposal in House Bill 209 would drastically increase annual fees on electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid vehicles. Electric vehicles (EVs) have zero tailpipe emissions, making them a key solution to Utah's climate and air quality challenges. Increasing fees for zero-emission vehicles to $300 per year more than double what the average new gas-powered vehicle pays each year in gas taxes is the wrong approach to solve Utah's road funding challenges.
Salt Lake Tribune
- Provo-Orem, Salt Lake City, Ogden, Logan, St. George all rank among best-performing cities - Tech-focused index gives lofty economic marks to all five Utah metro areas.
- New cannabis bill would give Utah a 15th marijuana pharmacy - The proposal would also force existing pharmacy operators to get up and running or give up their licenses.
- Controversial Utah school board member draws fire for posts accusing teacher of promoting communism - Utah's state school board distanced itself Thursday from a member after she attacked a teacher on social media - publicly posting the teacher's name, the school where she works and accusing her, without offering evidence, of instructing students that "communism is better than our form of government."
- Spencer Cox vs. the Legislature, astronomical payday loan interest rates, and Mike Lee's battle on this week's 'Behind the Headlines' - Join Salt Lake Tribune journalists on KCPW's news roundup.
- House taps brakes on bill to hit electric and hybrid vehicles with a steep hike in state fees - After fierce opposition in debate, sponsor pulls the bill to rework it.
- Will this be the year for a Utahraptor State Park? - A state bill would preserve historical and paleontological treasures in Grand County.
- Gov. Spencer Cox suggests he wants some changes in Legislature's plan to rein in his emergency powers - The new governor says he recognizes the power of the legislative branch to make changes but has urged leaders 'to not overreact to something that happens every 100 years.'
- Utahns 65 and older can now get COVID-19 vaccine, governor says (Deseret News) - Utahns 65 and older can go to the state's COVID-19 website, coronavirus.utah.gov, for information on signing up for shots that are available through the state's 13 local health departments as well as some Smith's, Walmart, Harmons, Dan's, Maceys, Dick's and Fresh Market pharmacies throughout the state.
- Vitamin C, zinc can't fight off COVID-19 symptoms, new study suggests (Deseret News) - Researchers stopped the study early because "the findings were so unimpressive."
- Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine produces a much weaker immune response against the variant found in South Africa, a new study suggests (Business Insider) - The vaccine produced two-thirds less neutralizing antibodies against a lab-made virus designed to mimic the variant.
- A mass-casualty event every day (Washington Post) - An average of 3100 people in the US died of COVID-19 every day in January. One every 28 seconds.
- Israeli study finds Pfizer vaccine 85% effective after first shot (Reuters) -The Sheba Medical Center's findings compare with overall efficacy of around 95% in a two dose regimen 21 days apart for the shot developed with Germany's BioNTech.
- California hospital sees staff COVID-19 infections drop to "single digits" after achieving herd immunity (CBS News) - In December, when the pandemic was at its peak in the state, UC Davis Medical Center had 231 employees out because of COVID-19. On Wednesday, that number was just 10.
- Young Florida women dressed as grannies to get coronavirus vaccine -- and it may have worked (Click Orlando) - Women were outed when they showed up for second doses.
- CDC director worries over 'pandemic fatigue' come spring: 'This could go bad so fast' (Fox News) - Walensky's comments come as more states confirm cases of COVID-19 variants.
- Severe weather puts freeze on O.C. vaccine supply, forcing closure of Disneyland vaccination center (Los Angeles Times)
- Ted Cruz's Cancn Trip: Family Texts Detail His Political Blunder (New York Times) - The Texas senator faced fierce blowback for fleeing his state as a disaster unfolded. Text messages sent by his wife on Wednesday revealed a hastily planned trip away from their "FREEZING" family home.
- Cruz calls Cancun, Mexico, trip 'a mistake' as Texans remain without power amid historic winter storm (CNN) - A source familiar with the situation told CNN that some of the senator's senior aides did not know he flew down to Mexico until the pictures appeared on social media and inquiries started to come into the office.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Raises $1 Million For Texas Relief In Just Four Hours (Unilad) - The money raised is going to 5 Texas nonprofits providing food and shelter during this week's killer storm.
- Biden repudiates Trump on Iran, ready for talks on nuke deal (Associated Press) - In addition to signaling a willingness to talk with Iran, the administration also reversed Trump's determination that all U.N. sanctions against Iran had been restored. And, it eased stringent restrictions on the domestic travel of Iranian diplomats posted to the United Nations.
- Ted Cruz is quickly finding out his trip to Cancun really, really wasn't worth it (The Independent) - After hours of silence and speculation, the Texas Senator released a statement today saying he was just 'trying to be a good dad'.
- House's No. 2 Republican drops by Mar-a-Lago amid GOP divide over Trump (CNN) - Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, privately met with former President Donald Trump in Florida earlier this week.
- US signals it is open to sending more troops to support NATO's mission in Iraq (CNN) - "The US is participating in the force generation process for NATO Mission Iraq and will contribute its fair share to this important expanded mission," Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Jessica L. McNulty said.
- Gavel in hand, Bernie Sanders lays out an unabashedly liberal economic agenda (Washington Post) - As the new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders has already played a key role in advancing President Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, and he is now scheduling high-profile hearings on some of the nation's most pressing challenges.
- Democratic Lawmakers Introduce Biden's Immigration Overhaul in House (New York Times) - Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Representative Linda Snchez of California disclosed details of the proposal on Thursday in a news conference.
- Biden's Plan to Link Arms With Europe Against Russia and China Isn't So Simple (New York Times) - The new president's vow to restore the trans-Atlantic alliance is welcome, but Europeans want a more balanced relationship, with more dialogue and less diktat.
- Massive breach fuels calls for US action on cybersecurity (AP) - A sweeping hack that may have revealed government and corporate secrets to Russia and which hijacked widely used software from Texas-based SolarWinds Inc., has exposed the profound vulnerability of civilian government networks and the limitations of efforts to detect threats.
Policy NewsBusiness community updates dashboard to include state vaccination efforts and downtown report
The Salt Lake Chamber's Roadmap to Recovery Coalition, in partnership with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, has refreshed the Economic Dashboard for January to help business leaders know where Utah sits in the overall recovery. This tool tracks the state's path to a full and complete economic recovery from the pandemic recession and provides context for decision makers. "The ongoing economic recovery though still K-shaped is gaining traction across the state and our unemployment has dropped to 3.6% which many experts consider full employment," said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance.
Lisa McDonald to lead community development for the Salvation Army
The Salvation Army in Utah is pleased to announce that Lisa McDonald has accepted the new role of Grant and Community Development Manager for the Salt Lake City Corps, Ogden Corps, and St. George Outpost. She will be responsible for grant writing, community development, and corporate partnerships throughout the State of Utah.
Utah State Board of Education leadership statement on board member's social media post
A recent social media post by Board Member Natalie Cline has caused public concern regarding its content and nature. As the leadership of the Utah State Board of Education (Board), we first recognize that all Board members are free to speak as private citizens outside of their official capacity as Board members. However, it is important to address concerns regarding any attribution of Member Cline's comments to the Board or its official positions.
Sen. Romney's statement on impeachment entered into Congressional Record
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) entered the following statement into the Congressional Record regarding the impeachment trial:Once again, I have listened to the arguments of the respective counsel, studied briefs, and weighed evidence in an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. This is not a responsibility I sought or expected. I certainly did not anticipate having to serve a second time as a Senator-juror in an impeachment trial.
Rep. Curtis has 2 broadband bills introduced in a package of 28 bills
Today, Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement after two of his bills were introduced in a comprehensive package of 28 bills that aim to turbocharge public and private investment by promoting new and upgraded infrastructure deployments, boosting competition, streamlining permitting processes, facilitating broadband deployment on federal lands, and closing the digital divide in both rural and urban areas.
On This Day In History
- 1473 - Polish astronomer Copernicus is born.
- 1847 - Donner Party rescued.
- 1910 - Typhoid Mary is freed from her first periods of isolation and goes on to cause several more outbreaks of typhoid in the New York area.
- 1913 - 1st prize inserted into a Cracker Jack box.
- 1940 - Smokey Robinson is born.
- 1942 - FDR orders detention and internment of all west-coast Japanese-Americans. Utah successfully pursues a contract to build the Topaz Internment Camp by Delta.
- 1942 - Tuskegee Airmen initiated.
- 1952 - Amy Tan is born. Her novel, The Joy Luck Club has now been translated into 35 languages.
- 1963 - The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan is published.
- 2002 - Vonetta Flowers becomes the first Black gold medalist in the Winter Olympics.
- 2016 - Harper Lee dies. She is best known for her 1960 book, "To Kill a Mockingbird"
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view."
"People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for."
What does a gingerbread man put on his bed?
A cookie sheet!
Why did the girl keep her trumpet out in the snow?
She liked playing cool jazz.
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