Secretary of state hints at first strike option against North Korea. Trump’s budget would help Hill, but deeply cut other programs. Replacement for Obamacare faces revolt.
Happy Friday. So this happened overnight: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that "all of the options are on the table," including the use of military force, to deal with the threat of North Korea and its ever-escalating weapons program. Tillerson, visiting the DMZ, said that a first strike against the hermit kingdom is possible. [Politico]
Topping the news: President Donald Trump’s budget would help Hill Air Force base with more F-35s but cut deeply into programs that help rural areas, the needy as well as scientific research and trasportation. [Trib]
-> The uncertainty among Republicans about a proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act is mirrored within Utah’s congressional delegation. Utah Rep. Chris Stewart has expressed faith in the bill’s future while Sen. Mike Lee has spoken against it. [ABC4] Rep. Mia Love also signaled her support for the bill but acknowledged it needs reworking. [Trib]
-> Restaurants, alcohol marketers and local Utahns are putting pressure on Gov. Gary Herbert to veto a bill currently awaiting his signature that would lower the blood-alcohol content limit for Utah drivers. Their methods include placement of full-page newspaper ads blasting the bill and a Capitol rally planned for this afternoon. [Trib] [DNews] [KUTV]
-> Meanwhile, Herbert says he hasn’t made up his mind yet on the bill, saying he would "take a good, hard look at it" and acknowledging there is a "legitimate concern it will impact tourism and travel." [KUTV]
Tweets of the day: From @chuchugoogoo: "sorry folks, PBS has to go. they just don’t get results, it’s been 26 years and we still don’t know where in the world is Carmen San Diego"
-> From @howardmegdal: "I, for one, have always had it in for those showoff meals, driving around in their fancy cars."
-> From @dvorakoelling: "When the
#microwaves stage an early morning rebellion at #McDonalds"
Happy Birthday: To The Dallas Morning News’ Carl Luebsdorf.
Behind the Headlines: Tribune reporters Emma Penrod and Matt Piper, columnist Robert Gehrke and government and politics editor Dan Harrie join KCPW’s Roger McDonough to talk about the week’s top stories, including air quality and homelessness. Listen at KCPW.org or tune in to KCPW or Utah Public Radio for the broadcast from 9-10 a.m.
In other news: More than 150 extra shifts have been given to law enforcement agencies to help remove impaired drivers from Utah’s roadways during St. Patrick’s Day and NCAA March Madness festivities. [Trib] [ABC4]
-> About 50 people gathered in Sugar House to protest a bill awaiting Herbert’s approval that would allow residents or commercial operations to burn wood even on mandatory no-burn days if the wood was burned to cook — legislation environmentalists worry has too broad a scope. [Trib] [DNews]
-> The Utah State Records Committee voted to make public an internal database used to calculate Utah’s annual water consumption and to project its needs in the future. The nonprofit Utah Rivers Council said it requested the information after discovering discrepancies in water-usage reports released to state officials compared to those released to the public. [Trib] [DNews]
-> The committee also ordered the state to release a copy of its contract with Amazon that allows the online retailer to collect sales taxes on Utahns’ purchases. Skeptics say they aren’t sure why the organization voluntarily agreed to collect the taxes. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Though state officials lauded the state’s high voter turnout in last year’s election, a new study showed Utahns ranked only No. 39 nationally for turnout by all citizens of voting age— registered or not. [Trib]
-> Though Utah’s Legislature has one of the "most lopsided" political makeups in the country, a Brigham Young University professor found that 93 percent of lawmakers voted together on the average House vote and 97 percent did the same in the Senate. [DNews]
-> Provo’s mayor said he asked for Police Chief John King’s resignation because the community needs complete trust in law enforcement, adding King "has been tainted and damaged" by sexual misconduct allegations. [Trib] [DNews] [ABC4] [Fox13] [KUTV]
-> For the first time in 40 years, Utah is facing a housing shortage where tens of thousands of Utahns are searching for homes, condos or townhouses that don’t exist and may not exist anytime soon. [DNews]
-> The Park City fire marshal ordered nearly 60 seasonal workers to vacate a former school that was home to many foreign workers in low-paying seasonal jobs in the resort town after the building was found to be in violation of local zoning rules. [Trib]
-> An Interior Board of Land Appeals judge ruled no work can begin on an ATV loop inside the Bears Ears National Monument because additional roads or trails for motorized use are restricted under the land’s new designation. [DNews]
-> The Iron County School District will now be required to hold an annual sexual harassment training for its employees and administrators as part of a settlement between the state and eight female employees who claimed they were subjected to years of sexual harassment. [Trib]
-> Rocky Mountain Power says it’s asking Utah regulators for a rate decrease totaling $14.6 million for customer electricity bills. [DNews]
-> Pat Bagley urges tourists to come to Utah for the fun and stay (in jail) because of its liquor laws. [Trib]
-> Paul Rolly says this year’s Salt Lake City St. Patrick’s Day Parade will reflect the current political climate, encouraging parade participants to reflect on their immigrant ancestors at a time when the Trump administration wants to bar some immigrants and refugees. [Trib]
-> Robert Gehrke sympathizes with the Box Elder County commissioner and Obamacare critic who has struggled and suffered with a son’s debilitating disease but notes that many millions of families in similar situations have benefited from the health care law Republicans love to hate. [Trib]
Nationally: The House Budget Committee narrowly voted to advance the Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. As it heads to the full House, Speaker Paul Ryan is working with President Donald Trump to garner the support they need for the measure to pass. [CNN] [ABCNews] [NYTimes] [NPR]
-> Trump officially released a $1.1 trillion budget blueprint that outlined his priority to slash funding for federal agencies and programs for the environment, diplomacy, housing, health services and the arts but that would increase military spending. [NYTimes] [NPR] [CNN] [WaTimes]
-> Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget chief, defended cuts to the Meals on Wheels program and the Environmental Protection Agency, saying the former is "just not showing any results" and the latter he considers "a waste of your money." [WaPost] [TheHill] [CNN] [NYTimes]
-> As two federal judges blocked Trump’s revised travel ban, both cited the president’s own campaign rhetoric as evidence of an improper desire to prevent Muslims from entering the United States. [CNN] [NYTimes] [NPR] [TheHill]
Where are they?
- Rep. Jason Chaffetz attends a meeting on Postal Reform legislation and votes.
- Rep. Chris Stewart attends a House Intelligence Committee meeting, votes and meets with constituents in his D.C. office.
- Rep. Mia Love meets with constituents, votes and flies to Utah.
- Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox heads to the Brigham Young University Law School State and Local Government Conference at the Utah Valley Convention Center.
- State Auditor John Dougall spends his day in the office and has dinner with Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.
- President Donald Trump meets with the Republican Study Committee and leads a listening session on Veterans’ Affairs. Later, he welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and leads a bilateral meeting with her before heading a roundtable discussion on vocational training with U.S. and German business leaders. He and Merkel will then hold a joint press conference and have a working luncheon. In the evening, he departs the White House for Joint Base Andrews en route to West Palm Beach, Florida.
-- Thomas Burr and Taylor Stevens