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Situational Analysis - February 22, 2021
It's Monday and the last week of February. How did that happen?! Today also marks the beginning of #RealBreadWeek. Get out there and get baking. If you need recipes, I hear Paul Hollywood has some.
In case you missed it over the weekend, Senator Ted Cruz from Texas took his family - and his college roommate - across the border in search of safety, warmth and clean water while AOC raised $5 million for Texas nonprofits assisting millions of Texans who found themselves without heat, electricity and/or water.
It's also George Washington's birthday, as well as Zitkla-, who is today's Google Doodle.
If you only have time for one thing today: Read about Michelle Amos, NASA engineer who worked on the Mars 2020 rover. She has a master's degree in engineering management and spent 30 years at NASA and the John F. Kennedy Space Center. She spoke about the "seven minutes of terror," aka, the rover's landing on Mars: "We tested that system over and over. We knew that it would land correctly. But that's a simulation," she said. "It's a whole different story when you are in the Martian atmosphere. All the projections for wind, temperature and gravity that helped you to be successful using flight software on Earth - it's got to work in a Martian atmosphere. That's the nail-biting part of it." She watched the landing via Zoom, along with 200 LDS missionaries that she and her husband supervise in Louisiana.
11 days to the end of the 2021 Utah Legislature (3/5/21)
51 days until the end of the Cox/Henderson administration's first 100 days (04/14/2021)
67 days until the Biden/Harris administration's first 100 days are up (04/30/2021)
Today At Utah PolicyGuest opinion: You CAN have it both ways, protecting air quality and equalizing road funding
By Rusty Cannon
Roads cost money. Lots of money. In 2019, the state of Utah spent over $1.3 billion on road maintenance and construction. With a booming population and strong economic growth, those costs will continue to grow. The majority of the revenue that funds maintenance and operations of our roads comes from gas tax. In the tax policy realm, this has always been viewed as a "user fee" form of taxation. The more you drive and wear out the roads, the more gas you buy, and as part of that gas purchase, the more tax or "user fee" you pay. If you drive less, you pay less. That is a fair system.
Guest opinion: Financial disaster prep - 4 ways to prepare for the unexpected
By Kate Moss
Don't Let Your Financial Footing Be Uprooted4 Ways to Prepare for the UnexpectedIf coronavirus, last year's earthquakes, windstorms and wildfires have taught us anything, it's to expect the unexpected. It's time to focus on a plan of action for when disaster strikes. Preparation is a way of life here in Utah, and no detail is too small when planning for catastrophe whether that's an earthquake, wildfire, or a major windstorm.
Tweets of the day: Friday fun
By Holly Richardson
This week's lighter side round-up: incredible cave art, animals and a bit of poetry
- The benefits of having more women in politics - From Susan Madsen, PhD. "I want to challenge the narrative that men are better suited to seek office and enter politics."
- If we want unity, we must start with understanding - Stories matter. So does the way we tell them, even to ourselves.
- The culture war compromise - In the battle over LGBTQ rights and religious freedom, can both sides win?
- Julie Boy: Why I teach my biracial children about Black history - After all, like my husband, Alex sings in his universal song, 'We all bleed the same' - no matter your color
- Legislative roundup: Emergency powers, transgender athletes, teaching sex consent top issues in week 5 - Rioters, mascots, guns, stones, election fraud, movies filmed in Utah among other topics during busy week at Utah Legislature
- Utahns rate Biden's first month in office about the same as Trump's last month in new poll - 45% of Utah voters approve of the job Biden is doing, while 51% disapprove.
- New poll shows fewer Utahns saying 'no' to getting vaccinated - Just 12% of Utahns insist they're never getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and an overwhelming majority believe the state's vaccine distribution system is fair.
- Prosecutors defend Utah bail reform as lawmakers eye repeal - The reform has moved Utah away from a rigid cash bail system toward an approach that keeps suspects in jail based on the risk they pose, rather than their ability to pay. It directs judges to release people accused of low-level crimes using the least restrictive conditions needed, like ankle monitors or bail in some cases.
- Selling homemade food to make ends meet in pandemic? Utah eyes permits, inspections - Rep. Christine Watkins, R-Price, is sponsoring HB94 to help correct "the lack of inspections of home kitchens." The bill passed the House Friday morning with a unanimous vote and will move on to the Senate for consideration.
- Hundreds of snowmen make a case in Utah for climate change - hundreds of little snowmen made their way to the grounds at the state Capitol. It was all part of a plea to save the "endangered species" - the snow.
- San Francisco dropping names of Washington and Lincoln from schools. Will it happen in Utah? - Not likely, at least not anytime soon.
- Utahns believe that Black lives matter. Here's how we can show it - A key way to support these lives is advancing equitable opportunities.
- If you think cancel culture isn't a problem, you might be a Democrat - New poll shows deep partisan divide in views about shunning people for their controversial beliefs.
Salt Lake Tribune
- U.S. reaches 500,000 deaths from the coronavirus (NBC News) - The number of dead rivals the populations of Atlanta or Sacramento, California.
- Coronavirus cases drop, but Utah remains among states with highest infection rates (Salt Lake Tribune) - It ranks fourth with 11,417 infections per 100,000 people.
- As US death toll nears 500K, Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans could be wearing masks in 2022 (USA Today) - Marty Makary, who teaches at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, doesn't see it that way. "At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life,"
- Covid: Scotland 'in line' with UK's July vaccine target (BBC News) - All adults in Scotland could receive the first dose of the vaccine by the end of July if supply is available, the Scottish government has confirmed.
- COVID-19 immunity now 20-25% in Salt Lake County residents, data shows (FOX 13) - Experts project that 70 percent is the magic number to reach herd immunity and quash COVID.
- Gottlieb says downward trend in virus infections "likely to continue" (Yahoo! News) - Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration during the Trump administration, predicted Sunday that declining COVID-19 infection rates are "likely to continue" due to more Americans receiving their vaccines and the amount of people who have already contracted the coronavirus.
- South African COVID-19 variant found on Long Island (New York Post) - The strain, originally identified in South Africa, was first discovered in the US last month - and scientists believe it can spread more easily than other virus variants.
- Israel to Receive Last Shipments of Pfizer COVID Vaccines in Next Two Weeks (Haaretz) - The 1.5 million doses will provide enough for Israel to meet its target of five million people vaccinated against the coronavirus.
- Rare, sometimes fatal COVID-related illness is affecting children (WANE) - Called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, the illness appears to crop up weeks after a COVID infection or exposure - even if the case was asymptomatic or mild. About 2000 cases have been seen so far.
- What's safe after COVID-19 vaccination? Don't shed masks yet (Click Orlando) - The vaccines are highly effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, especially severe illness and death - but no one yet knows how well they block spread of the coronavirus.
- Thousands of COVID-19 long-haulers have been crippled by months of physical pain and mental anguish, but recovery clinics are springing up, offering hope (Business Insider) - Post-COVID care centers aim to bring together a team of experts from a broad range of specialties to address all the wide-ranging issues long-haulers face, based on the disease's latest understanding.
- Top virologist warns Italy virus cases rising again (Medical Xpress) - The resurgence in infections is due in large part to the English variant.
- NY state Senate set to pass package of nursing home reforms amid Cuomo scandal (New York Post) - The 10 bills were introduced earlier this month with the goal of reforming nursing home protocols on matters including fatality reporting, patient-to-staff ratio and visitation standards.
- Psaki dodges question of whether Biden still considers Cuomo 'the gold standard' for COVID-19 leadership (Fox News) - "I'm not here to give new labels or names from the president, I'm here to communicate with you about what our focuses are and what his objectives are as president."
- Ted Cruz Mocked for Posting Photos Handing Out Water to Texans After Cancun Backlash (Slate) - "I'm glad someone in Ted Cruz's Senate office finally instructed him on how to fake compassion, humanity, and creating the illusion that he cares about the people he was elected to serve," said Melissa Ryan.
- GOP Arkansas Governor Comes Out Against Trump 2024 Run, Says It Would 'Hurt' Republicans (Newsweek) - "He should not define our future. We have got to define it for ourselves. And that has to be based upon the principles that really gave us the strength in America."
- Biden's Immigration Plan Would Offer Path to Citizenship For Millions (New York Times) - The proposal, unveiled by Democrats on Capitol Hill, offers an eight-year path to citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, eliminates restrictions on family-based immigration and expands worker visas.
- Stimulus check latest: House Democrats advance $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid bill (KXAN) - The House Budget Committee is set to meet Monday to weigh amendments to the bill before sending it to the full House for debate and passage.
- 'Where is Greg Abbott?' Anger grows at Texas governor in deadly storm's wake (Washington Post) - It was clear by Tuesday afternoon that Texas was in a full-blown crisis - and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) had largely been out of sight.
- 'Utter outrage': White House says US in talks with Iran over detained Americans (The Guardian) - Iran has arrested dozens of dual nationals, including several Americans, in recent years, mostly on espionage charges.
- Impeachment is over. But other efforts to reckon with Trump's post-election chaos have just begun. (Washington Post) - Public officials and private companies are pursuing a multi-front legal effort to hold him and his allies accountable in other ways.
Policy NewsUtah Democrats stand with Black constituents
During Black History Month, and in all months, Utah Democrats stand with Black Lives. Our members understand and appreciate the deep commitments to Utah that Black Americans have made, and in a time when Black lives are under attack, our members and legislative caucuses are determined to protect Black Utahns.
Salt Lake City rents up 2.4% since last year
Rent prices in Salt Lake City averaged at $1,269 in January after a 2.4% increase since last year. Renters make up 48% of Salt Lake City's population. Despite this, rates in Utah's most populous city are still below the national average of $1,392.Here are some other highlights from the January Rent Report:
Heading into 'America Saves' week, Utahns' savings accounts soaring
SEVEN TIPS FOR HANGING ON TO PANDEMIC SAVINGS GAINSAmerica Saves Week Urges Saving as Spending Picks UpAmericans have been saving more than ever during the pandemic. Despite job losses and widespread economic impacts, the personal savings rate (the percentage of people's income remaining after taxes and spending) was at 13.7% at the end of 2020. That's nearly double pre-pandemic savings levels, which hovered in the 6-8% range over the past decade.Locally, Utahns are socking away record amounts, signaling a statewide savings boon. Zions Bank saw deposits across its Utah and Idaho footprint grow by $4.87 billion in 2020, a 30% increase from 2019.
Business 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.
- Why some Texans are getting sky-high energy bills (KSAT) - The surge in pricing is hitting people who have chosen to pay wholesale prices for their power, which is typically cheaper than paying fixed rates during good weather, but can spike when there's high demand for electricity.
- McDonald's finally enters the chicken sandwich wars (Quartz) - This week, McDonald's becomes the latest US restaurant chain to jump on the chicken sandwich craze, rolling out its version with original, spicy, and deluxe variations, on Feb. 24.
On This Day In History
- 1732 - George Washington is born in Virginia.
- 1819 - The U.S. acquires Spanish Florida.
- 1876 - Zitkla- is born. Granddaughter of Sitting Bull, a writer and Sioux Indian activist, she spent much of her adult life in Utah. She was instrumental in lobbying for citizenship rights for Native Americans and founded the National Council of American Indians. She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
- 1950 - Dr. J is born.
- 1980 - U.S. hockey team beats the Soviets in the "Miracle on Ice."
- 1997 - Dolly the Sheep is cloned.
- 2014 - 'El Chapo,' the world's most-wanted drug kingpin, is captured in Mexico.
"The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness."
~George Washington, in his farewell address to the nation.
Q. What's white and goes up?
A. A confused snowflake!
Q. What flies when it's born, lies when it's alive, and runs when it's dead?
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