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Situational Analysis - February 23, 2021
Welcome to National Banana Bread Day and National Dog Biscuit Day. Happy Tuesday.
Yesterday, Utah's legislative leaders unveiled a new tax proposal that would provide additional relief to veterans, senior citizens and families, the US Supreme Court refused to hear a a challenge to Pennsylvania's presidental election results, denied Trump's bid to keep his tax returns private and Merrick Garland began his confirmation hearing to be the US Attorney General.
If you only have time for one thing today: Check out this story by ABC4 and their "In Focus" discussion on "Safe/Not Safe." Coming from a family who lost a loved one to violence, Denae Shanidiin understands how ordinary places like a hiking trail, childhood home, grocery store, or gas station can be triggering or uncomfortable for someone who survived trauma. She partnered with local photographer Jonathan Canlas to create the Safe/Not Safe photo series that profiles Utahns of color in places where they feel unsafe and then in places where they go to find refuge. Powerful photo documentary.
10 days to the end of the 2021 Utah Legislature (3/5/21)
50 days until the end of the Cox/Henderson administration's first 100 days (04/14/2021)
66 days until the Biden/Harris administration's first 100 days are up (04/30/2021)
Today At Utah PolicyMore bills to watch
By Holly Richardson
We've come to the point in the legislative session where it's becoming clear that some bills just won't see the light of day. Bills like HJR13, the Joint Resolution declaring racism a moral and public health crisis can't get scheduled for a committee hearing. HB278, the bill to change the name of Dixie State, passed out of the House without difficulty and is now stuck in Senate rules, along with HJR 8 and HCR 4. There are a myriad of ways for bills to die and we are starting to see them play out as we approach the end of the session.
Tweets of the day: #utleg roundup and a bit of national news
By Holly Richardson
Don't miss the winners of the "She Started It" campaign, some tax relief, getting rid of the signature path to the ballot, bill are STILL being introduced in the Utah legislaure, flags at half-staff, gender bias (shocking, I know), Texans leaving Texas and Mars.
Commentary: SB54 battle could spark new ballot initiative and split GOP
By LaVarr Webb
A number of Republicans in the Utah Legislature are planning to essentially repeal SB54, the Count My Vote compromise that allows candidates to gather signatures to get on the primary election ballot.In addition to turning the nomination process over to a few thousand party delegates, shutting out hundreds of thousands of other voters, the move to undo SB54, embodied in SB205, sponsored by Sen. Dan McCay, could have two important political consequences:
- Effort to let political parties drop signature gathering to qualify for primary returns to Capitol - Dan McCay's bill, SB205, would give political parties the option of returning to a system that doesn't allow the signature gathering path to the ballot. It passed out of committee 7-2.
- Lent amid the pandemic: Turning away from despair and toward God - Some religious leaders say that spiritual practices typical to Lent are also a boon to mental health.
- Biden's leasing ban brings furious letter from Utah governor, others - The letter by Cox and other governors emphasizes that Biden's practices will merely shift production to foreign and possibly hostile nations where environmental regulations are not as stringent, amplifying levels of fossil fuel emissions, not abating them.
- Closed-door negotiations over 'Dixie' name show a lack of leadership - Senate leaders should assign HB278, the bill that would start a name change process at Dixie State University, to a committee immediately and do the people's work in the open.
- Do high-density apartments decrease nearby home values? Utah study says no - Homes located within 1/2 mile of a new apartment building experienced a 10% yearly increase in median value between 2010 and 2019, while those located farther away rose by 8.6%.
- Utah moves to bar government from mandating COVID-19 vaccines - Spendlove's bill would ban mandates from all branches of government, including cities and counties, but does not step into the realm of the private sector.
- Nearly $100 million in tax cuts slated for Utah veterans, seniors, families - An across-the-board income tax rate cut is unlikely this year.
- Flu, RSV cases 'practically zero' across country: But should masks take all the credit? - It's unclear, actually. Health care providers do worry about a significant resurgence once mask-wearing slows or stops.
- What Sen. Mike Lee asked President Biden's pick for attorney general in Senate hearing - Lee asked about guns, bigotry, other nominees, FISA and religious liberty.
- Electric vehicle owners can breathe easy after House defeats bill to hike registration fees - HB209 had gone through four iterations before finally being rejected with a vote of 27-44.
Salt Lake Tribune
- 'Yes' in my backyard? Study shows new Salt Lake County apartments actually boost neighbors' home values. - University of Utah research reaffirms that higher density not only increases housing affordability but also brings more amenities and more "buzz" to communities.
- Bill that would limit governor's emergency powers sprints ahead in Utah Senate - Under the legislation, if a crisis lasts beyond 30 days, the Legislature could then weigh in on the situation.
- Utah Senate kills controversial billboard bill - There are two more billboard-related bills still alive in the 2020 session.
- Two childhood viruses at near zero, a 'good side effect of COVID-19,' a Utah pediatrician says - "It's really, truly, one of the good side effects, if you will, of the COVID-19 pandemic."
- Bill that supporters say would fill gap for rape victims in Utah law fails in committee - This bill would have filled a gap for victims who can't give consent, including those who are asleep, intoxicated or who "freeze" and can't react "because of the fear of the trauma that's happening to them."
- Legislative leaders pushing for $100 million in tax relief - Three bills aim at tax cuts for families, military retirees and Social Security recipients.
- Jerold Ottley, who led the famed Tabernacle Choir to even greater heights, dies of COVID-19 (Salt Lake Tribune) - His 25-year tenure is remembered for the Choir's performances at Christmas and presidential inaugurations.
- Utah records 338 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest since September (Salt Lake Tribune) - In total, the state has seen 367,073 cases.
- Biden remembers 500,000 American lives lost to COVID-19 (Fox News) - Biden called the milestone "truly grim" and "heartbreaking."
- Opinion: We've lost 500,000 Americans to covid-19. We can prevent the loss of 500,000 more. (Washington Post) - It is possible, finally, to imagine a day when this devastating pandemic is brought to an end.
- Why get COVID-19 vaccination if you still have to wear a mask? It beats getting sick, health experts say. (USA Today) - It's not clear what the threshold should be that allows people to let their guards and masks down. 66,000 Americans are still getting infected every day.
- Moderna moves forward on plan to increase Covid vaccine supply in each vial after latest FDA feedback (CNBC) - Doses per vial will increase from 10 to 15.
- Vaccines Adapted for Variants Will Not Need Lengthy Testing, F.D.A. Says (New York Times) - The agency's new guidance will speed the development of vaccines that protect against more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
- COVID-19 pandemic has Vatican bracing for $60 million deficit in 2021 (Religion News Service) - The pandemic has shrunk donations and closed the high-earning Vatican museums for months.
- 2 common COVID-19 symptoms for long-haulers (Deseret News) - Fatigue and loss of sense of taste/smell.
- New study: 30% of people experience COVID-19 symptoms after 9 months diagnosis (Deseret News) - "What's clear is that you can do well initially, but then over time develop symptoms that are quite crippling in terms of fatigue."
- How to recover from COVID-19 vaccine symptoms (Deseret News) - The side effects include "pain, potentially fatigue, and a low-grade fever."
- West Virginia's Vaccination Rate Ranks Among Highest In World (NPR) - Instead of relying on Internet-based scheduling, WV set up a telephone hotline to answer questions and schedule appointments.
- Trump taunts don't shake McConnell's hold on Senate GOP (Politico) - The crumbled alliance between Trump and McConnell, who worked hand-in-glove on political and legislative strategy for four years, has finally brought the GOP to the reckoning that never happened after the 2016 election.
- This Congress is the most diverse ever. But Hill staffers remain overwhelmingly white. (Politico) - There is only one Black chief of staff in the Senate and just four Latinos. The chamber has two Black communications directors.
- Trump's Tax Returns Aren't the Only Crucial Records Prosecutors Will Get (The New York Times) - In addition to the tax returns, Mr. Trump's accountants, Mazars USA, must also produce business records on which those returns are based and communications with the Trump Organization.
- U.S. arrests wife of 'El Chapo' Guzmn on international drug-trafficking charge at Dulles Airport (Washington Post) - Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, a dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana for importation into the United States with Guzmn's Sinaloa Cartel.
- Dominion Voting Systems sues MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for $1.3 billion (CBS News) - The defamation lawsuit alleges that Mike Lindell falsely accused the company of rigging the 2020 presidential election.
- California legislators approve $7.6-billion COVID-19 package, including $600 stimulus checks (Los Angeles Times) - The pandemic assistance plan also includes more than $2.1 billion in grants and fee waivers for small businesses.
- Trump to claim total control of GOP (Axios) - A longtime adviser called Trump's speech next weekend a "show of force," and said the message will be: "I may not have Twitter or the Oval Office, but I'm still in charge." Payback is his chief obsession.
- E.U. imposes sanctions on Russian officials after Navalny imprisonment (Washington Post) - The asset freeze and travel ban is intended to send a message to the Kremlin.
- Hearings examine consequences of massive SolarWinds breach (The Hill) - The massive Russian hacking incident will be in the spotlight on Capitol Hill this week as multiple House and Senate panels examine the extent of what is likely the largest cyber breach in U.S. history.
Policy NewsGov. Cox signs a joint letter to President Biden on the oil and gas ban
The following joint letter signed by Gov. Spencer Cox and 16 other Republican governors was sent to President Biden opposing the oil and gas leasing ban.Gov. Cox joined Gov. Mark Gordon, Wyoming; Gov. Kay Ivey, Alabama; Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Alaska; Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona; Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas; Gov. Brad Little, Idaho; Gov. Eric Holcomb, Indiana; Gov. Tate Reeves, Mississippi; Gov. Mike Parson, Missouri; Gov. Greg Gianforte, Montana; Gov. Pete Ricketts, Nebraska, Gov. Doug Burgum, North Dakota; Gov. Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma; Gov. Kristi Noem, South Dakota; Gov. Bill Lee, Tennessee; and Gov. Greg Abbot, Texas in signing the letter.
Gov. Cox lowers flags in honor of 500,000 American lives lost to COVID-19
In coordination with a proclamation from President Biden, Gov. Spencer Cox has ordered the lowering of the flag of the United States of America and the flag of the state of Utah in memory of the 500,000 American lives lost to COVID-19 and to highlight the magnitude of loss for so many families across the country."This week we join all Americans in mourning those we've lost to COVID-19, including the 1,853 Utahns who have died," Gov Cox said. "May God bless their loved ones and all of us with comfort and healing at this difficult time."
Skyline and Park City seniors names Utah's US Senate Youth Program scholarship winners
The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announced that high school students Ms. Aarushi Verma and Ms. Caroline Blair Waldmann will join Senator Mike Lee and Senator Mitt Romney in representing Utah during the 59th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 14-17, 2021. Aarushi Verma, a senior at Skyline High School, and Caroline Waldmann, a senior at Park City High School, were selected from among the state's top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation. They will each also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.
Rep. Stewart: Constitution alone is not enough to protect religious liberty
Congressman Chris Stewart (UT-02) penned an op-ed in Deseret News on how religious freedom protects all, from the religious to the non-religious, and why we must protect it."Whether you attend services on Saturday, Sunday or not all at-whether you worship in a church, a coffee shop or out in nature-freedom of religion protects all." Rep. Chris Stewart
Salt Lake based Jacobsen Construction opens new headquarters
In a promising sign of economic stability and pandemic recovery in Utah, nationally-ranked general contractor Jacobsen Construction Company, Inc. is opening a newly-built modern headquarters near the Salt Lake City International Airport, a significant milestone in the history of the nearly century-old company.The new headquarters was constructed by Jacobsen, for Jacobsen - fulfilling a long-held dream to put employees in the same kind of inspiring, impeccably built surroundings that they have made possible for so many clients over the years.
On This Day In History
- 1455 - Johannes Gutenberg prints his first Bible.
- 1836 - The siege on the Alamo begins.
- 1850 - Cesar Ritz is born. His hotels and restaurants inspired singers, songwriters and chefs around the world.
- 1868 - W.E.B. DuBois is born. An American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, he was awarded the Spingarn medal by the NAACP in 1920 and the Lenin Peace Prize by the USSR in 1959.
- 1900 - Elinor Warren, a composer, and gifted pianist, was born on this day. Some of her major works with orchestra are "The Harp Weaver" and "The Legend of King Arthur."
- 1940 - Woody Guthrie writes This Land Is Your Land.
- 1945 - U.S. Marines raise the American flag on Iwo Jima.
- 1954 - 1st mass inoculation against polio with the Jonas Salk vaccine takes place at Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh
- 1968 - The US Equal Opportunity Commission rules that a candidate's gender (female) or marital status (single) could not be a required qualification for employment as a flight attendant.
- 1979 - Frank E. Peterson, Jr. is named the first Black general in the Marine Corps.
- 1991 - President George H. W. Bush gives Iraq a 24-hour deadline to withdraw from Kuwait or face a ground war.
- 1998 - Osama bin Laden publishes a fatwa declaring jihad against all Jews and Crusaders.
- 2020 - The first major COVID-19 outbreak in Europe hits Italy with 152 cases and three deaths, prompting emergency measures, locking down 10 towns in Lombardy.
"This land is your land and this land is my land
From California to the New York island
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me."
Did you hear that Frosty the Snowman's wife went to the hairdresser?
She got a perm-afrost!
Why do snowmen hate ranch dressing?
Because someone's always rubbing their noses in it!
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