News roundup: Gun debate helps boost NRA membership
NRA's membership grows. Smuggled smokes hit Utah. Stewart sells his consulting firm.
Happy Friday. The debate over gun control has been good for the National Rifle Association, at least when it comes to membership. The group pulled in more than 100,000 members in 18 days as Vice President Joe Biden heads up a task force looking at suggestions for cutting down on gun massacres. The NRA now has 4.2 million members. [Politico]
-> That said, the White House is trying to rally outside groups to build support to simply roll over the NRA as the administration considers executive orders to curb large gun clips and require background checks for every gun sale. [Politico]
Topping the news: After a hike in cigarette taxes, a third of smokes in Utah may be smuggled in from neighboring states, a new report says. The Utah Tax Commission disputes the stats. [Trib]
-> Protesters used Gov. Gary Herbert's energy summit as a platform for calling out the governor's support of fossil fuels and "dirty energy," chanting, "Dirty Gary make our day. Get real on climate right away." [Trib]
-> Utah's education system jumped in the rankings to 38th in the nation, up from 42nd last year, according to Education Week. The report applauded Utah's focus on job training, but chided low funding and a refusal to cap class sizes. [Trib]
-> Matt Canham scoops that new Rep. Chris Stewart has sold his consulting business for $275,000 before he became a congressman. [Trib]
Tweets of the day: From @UTJolley: "Must be fun giving these new #utleg trainings. You get to point out all your pet peeves & tell the new people not to do them."
Happy birthday: To former state Rep. Jackie Bikupski and XMission founder Pete Ashdown, and yesterday to Bobby Harrington.
Welcome: To Emily Andrews, The Tribune's Washington bureau intern this semester. Emily, a Salt Lake City native, is a sophomore at the University of Utah with a double major in English and mass communication, and a former news editor at The Chrony.
Welcome II: To all the students in Peter Watkins' Comm 5200 class who are required to read Cornflakes as part of their course curriculum. Make sure to ask your teacher about all the fun stories from the First Lady's Office.
In other news: The Salt Lake County Sheriff's office will stop posting mugshots online, to discourage vigilante violence and to prevent the photos from being disseminated on sites like Facebook. While the mugs are still be public record, you'll need to file a GRAMA request to see them. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Dixie State College may issue an apology for decades of racist incidents as it considers a possible name change. [Fox13]
-> Utah had the lowest number of deaths on Utah roads since 1959, new data show. [Trib]
-> Out of 14 contenders vying for the spot, the Taylorsville City Council tapped Councilman Jerry Rechtenbach to fill outgoing Mayor Russ Wall's seat. Wall is taking a job with Salt Lake County. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley explains why filibuster reform seems to never catch up to end the filibuster. [Trib]
-> Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke will be serving a 3-year LDS Church mission with his wife, set to begin in July. The location hasn't been determined yet. [DNews]
-> Paul Rolly notes there was talk of a police escort for House Speaker Becky Lockhart to get her from the airport to Herbert's inauguration. But Lockhart never requested one and the governor's office didn't offer. [Trib] UPDATE: A previous version of this intro inaccurately stated Lockhart had asked for the police escort.
-> In the wake of a school shooting in California, Utah's top education official is asking all schools to ensure they're strictly following safety rules. [Trib]
-> BLM officials say they will round up 314 wild horses from public lands. The agency claims it's for the horses' safety, while animal rights activists say the roundups traumatize the horses and waste taxpayer dollars. [Trib]
-> The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has designated two officials to represent the faith at the Presidential Inauguration. [DNews]
-> Bob Bernick and Bryan Schott discuss Herbert's inauguration, a possible change to the primary/convention system and Jon Huntsman's future. [UtahPolicy]
-> Bernick argues why the state needs another way for candidates to get on the ballot other than being chosen by delegates. [UtahPolicy]
-> The Provo City Council elected a first-term councilman to serve as chairman. [DNews]
-> Jordan School District also chose its leaders yesterday. [DNews]
-> Smog? Inversion? A discussion on terms for Utah's hazy winter air. [Trib]
-> Tom Wharton blasts censorship and the Jordan School District. [Trib]
Nationally: Vice President Joe Biden says he will deliver gun control proposals to the president by Tuesday, including suggestions on high-capacity magazines and "near universal" background checks. The vice president met with gun rights activists at the White House yesterday. [NYTimes] [APviaTrib] [Politico]
-> Meanwhile, the NRA puts down its foot on the discussion, calling it an attack on the Second Amendment. [WaPost]
-> Without many friends from the past 12 years in the Senate, former Sen. Chuck Hagel might face a rocky confirmation hearing. [Politico] [NYTimes]
-> President Barack Obama's tapping of chief of staff Jack Lew for Secretary of the Treasury indicates the president's focus on congressional fiscal issues, not on the European financial crisis nor banks. [Politico]
-> The president made a friendly jab at Lew's loopy signature, asking him to at least make one letter of his mark legible as to "not debase our currency." [WaPost]
-> Despite the changing tides in Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder will hang on to his job. [RollCall]
Where are they?
Utah Governor Gary Herbert is briefed on the Snake Valley water issue.
SLC Mayor Ralph Becker is in Washington for the National League of Cities planning meeting.
President Barack Obama welcomes Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and his delegation to the White House and later holds a joint news conference.
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Thomas Burr and Emily AndrewsTwitter.com/thomaswburr and Twitter.com/emilytandrews