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Situational awareness - January 16, 2018

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. 

This morning Mitt Romney is the keynote speaker at the Salt Lake Chamber's Utah Economic Outlook & Policy Summit. You can bet the media presence at the event will be huge because it's the first public speaking event Romney has held in Utah since Sen. Orrin Hatch announced his retirement. Will he finally let us know if he's going to run for Senate this year? Probably not, but that won't stop an ever-hopeful media hungry for the story. Every facial tick and vocal expression will be over-analyzed for any sign of what he's intending. Stay tuned.

Hughes says the Utah Transit Authority could "hijack" the 2018 session. Romney attacks Trump on Twitter. Republicans are racing to avoid a government shutdown.

Tick Tock:

  • 6 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 51 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 52 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 58 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 63 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 95 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 102 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 161 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 294 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,022 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Thanks for reading our daily rundown of the political news stories you need to know (and nothing you don't). If you have any story ideas, tips, rants, complaints, or want to argue about whether Baker Mayfield can play in the NFL, reach out to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I'm always available.

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Here's what's driving the day:

The Utah Transit Authority could be the "sleeper" issue of the 2018 session.

House Speaker Greg Hughes says proposed changes to the governance of the UTA could "hijack" the 2018 session [Utah Policy].

Hughes talks budget, Medicaid, UTA, and the Pittsburgh Steelers

Download the podcast of our pre-legislative conversation with House Speaker Greg Hughes [Utah Policy].

Mitt Romney privately says he's running

Mitt Romney reportedly texted longtime friend and advisor Kem Gardner that he was planning to run for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Sen. Orrin Hatch's retirement [Utah Policy].

More Trump fallout

Rep. Mia Love says the offensive term President Trump allegedly used to describe Haiti, and African nations was "racist" [Utah Policy].

Mitt Romney ripped Trump on Twitter for using offensive language to describe impoverished countries [Utah Policy].

How hard will it be for Mitt Romney to capture the GOP nomination?

If Romney runs for the Senate next year, our "Political Insiders" say he'll probably only face token opposition for the GOP nomination [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson will hold a press conference on Tuesday morning to announce the new church leadership [Deseret News].

  • Gov. Gary Herbert has raised more than $600,000 in campaign funds this year, even though he's not running for re-election in 2020 [Tribune].

  • Dan Senor, a former advisor to Mitt Romney, says it's highly likely that Romney will run for Senate this year [CBS News].

  • Former GOP presidential candidate and Florida Governor Jeb Bush is backing Romney's potential bid for Senate [The Hill].

  • Several Senate Republicans are eager for Mitt Romney to join their ranks next year as a possible counterweight to President Trump [The Hill].

  • Both the University of Utah and BYU are vying to host a library for Sen. Orrin Hatch's papers once he leaves office at the end of the year [Deseret News].

  • Five proposed ballot initiatives raised more than $2.5 million in campaign money last year [Tribune].

  • Mormons give President Donald Trump the highest approval rating of any religious group [Deseret News].

  • Rep. Mike Noel wants to prohibit government entities from lobbying on federal land issues without permission from the Legislature [Deseret News].

  • Rep. Lynn Hemingway is bringing back his proposal to significantly raise the minimum wage in Utah [Deseret News].

  • Rep. Rob Bishop is expected to hold hearings on the standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and federal agents. A court case against Bundy was dismissed last week because the prosecution withheld evidence [Las Vegas Review Journal].

  • eBay is the state's biggest property tax delinquent because it's $1.16 million check to West Jordan was rejected by the bank [Tribune].

  • A lawsuit against Utah alleges the state Is isolating disabled residents in institutions because there are few options for them to transition into the community [Deseret News].

National headlines:

  • Here's an insidery look at what happened during the White House meeting on a possible immigration deal where President Trump allegedly used a profanity to describe African nations. Lots of good nuggets here [Washington Post].

  • The government runs out of money on Friday. Republicans are scrambling to find enough votes to at least pass a short-term funding bill [New York Times].

  • Woah! U.S. counterintelligence officials warned Jared Kushner his friendship with Wendi Deng Murdoch, the former wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, could be exploited by the Chinese government [Wall Street Journal].

  • Trump continued to push back against allegations he made a racist remark last week by blasting Sen. "Dicky Durbin" and saying he misrepresented what was said at a meeting about immigration [Axios]. Durbin says the White House should release any recordings of the meeting, if they exist [The Hill].

  • Despite public perception, President Trump actually kept a number of his campaign promises during his first year in office [Associated Press].

  • The Candy Man can! House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy asked a staffer to sort out red and pink Starbursts for a gift to President Trump because those are his favorite flavors [Washington Post].

  • At least five Democrats say they will boycott President Trump's State of the Union address later this month [The Hill].

  • 61% of Republicans say they are satisfied with the direction the country is headed, which is the highest level in a decade according to a new poll [Gallup].

  • The New York Times passed on the Trump-Russia dossier story just days before the election even though the firm behind the document, Fusion GPS, lobbied them to report on the information therein [Washington Times].

  • Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon will meet with the House Intelligence Committee about the Russia investigation on Tuesday [Reuters].

  • The number of uninsured Americans rose by 1.3 percent last year. The total number of Americans without health insurance is now 12.2% [Axios].

  • The employee who pushed the "wrong button" that led to a false ballistic missile attack warning in Hawaii over the weekend has been "reassigned" [Huffington Post].

On this day in history:

  • 1786 - Virginia enacts the Statue for Religious Freedom authored by Thomas Jefferson.

  • 1883- The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, establishing the United States Civil Service, is passed.

  • 1919 - The U.S. ratified the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, leading to Prohibition. The amendment was repealed in 1933.

  • 1991 - Coalition forces go to war with Iraq, beginning the Gulf War.