Rubio the anti--Romney? Businessmen say Swallow offered favors. Lee turned down tea-party response.
Happy Wednesday. The choice of Sen. Marco Rubio to offer the GOP response to the State of the Union marks an interesting move by GOP leaders: That of choosing the anti-Mitt Romney. Rubio, whose parents immigrated from Cuba, tells a different story than that of Romney's white heritage, and the senator offers a pitch to the potential immigrant/Latino vote that Republicans need. [Politico] More on the State of the Union below.
Topping the news: Three businessmen tell The Tribune's Robert Gehrke that John Swallow offered protection from the AG's office for campaign donations to then-AG Mark Shurtleff. [Trib]
-> Leading Utahns -- including Gov. Gary Herbert and House Speaker Becky Lockhart -- say that they wish they knew about the allegations against Swallow before voters went to the polls, and especially before he assumed office. [Trib]
-> Paul Rolly notes that folks attending the Utah Republican Party gave Swallow the cold shoulder during the recent Lincoln Day dinner. [Trib]
-> Spotted: Sen. Orrin Hatch getting a hug and exchanging a few words with President Barack Obama after the speech, after getting a handshake on the way in.
-> Notable quotes: "Heaven forbid if the guy is thirsty, he ought to be able to take a drink." - Lee on Sen. Marco Rubio's now infamous water-bottle grab during his GOP response.
"The president gave a good speech and has outlined laudable goals. But we've had enough rhetoric; it's time for action. Too much government with not enough private sector empowerment will only further slow economic growth and stifle recovery. Mr. Obama is confused about the proper roles of the federal government, the states and the private sector." - Gov. Gary Herbert
"More calls for tax hikes, more calls for increased government spending, and more campaign rhetoric are not solutions to move our country forward. The sooner the president realizes this, the sooner our country can once again become the country we know it can be." - Sen. Orrin Hatch
-> Promises, proposals and plans are rolled out each year in the speech, but where have these projects actually ended up? Take a look here. [Politico]
-> They call them "squatters:" members of Congress who stake out seats near the aisle, waiting for up to seven hours in hopes of shaking the president's hand as he walks in to the House chamber to deliver the State of the Union. [WaPost]
Tweet of the day: From @RobertGehrke: "Rep. Jim Dunnigan has everyone in rapt attention as he goes page by page through his insurance amendments bill."
Heard on the Hill: "The quality of the air is now impacting our ability to recruit the kind of businesses we want. It's embarrassing to bring these folks here and have to deal with the air issue." - Rep. Lowry Snow, R-St. George.
In other news: Sen. Lee opposed former Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination for Defense secretary, describing his record as "weak." [Trib]
-> Hundreds of people from a wide array of backgrounds rallied in the Capitol rotunda to implore lawmakers to support mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.
-> Salt Lake County passed a proposal to cut recreation center fees on bad air days. [Trib]
-> Interested in wildlife management? The state is looking to fill one of two vacancies on the Utah Wildlife Board or a regional council. [Trib]
-> Sen. Jim Dabakis' appeal to protect the Greater Canyonlands made it onto the national scene. [NYTimes]
From the Hill: Here's your daily legislative schedule. [Trib]
-> Two of Utah's hottest political topics -- education and clean air -- came head to head, and funding schools won out over giving tax breaks to vehicles that use cleaner fuels.
-> At the height of a winter filled with gunky air, pollution is getting more attention on the Hill, both from lawmakers and from Gov. Herbert. [Trib]
-> A bill that would narrow the age gap for sexual activity with a 16- or 17-year-old passed through a Senate committee. [Trib]
-> The international baccalaureate program survives another day in Utah after an amendment dies on a voice vote. [UtahPolicy]
-> The Legislature may still do away with "boxcar bills," which are in-name-only placeholders for legislation that offer no hint as to their real purpose. [UtahPolicy]
-> Sen. Peter Knudson wants to give more time to groups that offer specialized license plates to reach the 500-requests-per-year requirement. [Trib]
-> More frequent political disclosures will be required of candidates, former candidates and other politicos, thanks to a new bill. [Trib]
-> An effort to standardize bike lanes was halted by widespread disagreements that eventually stripped the bill down. [Trib]
-> Lawmakers passed what was described as an "insurance package for families" of those who are wrongly accused, but die before they receive restitution. The bill advanced out of a committee, and now goes to a full House vote. [Trib]
-> The House passed a bill that would create seminars to educate parents about bullying and suicide, in an attempt to cut down on Utah's high youth suicide rates. [DNews]
-> Firefighters would be allowed to use water on private lands if they're battling a fire there, thanks to a new bill that passed out of a Senate committee. [Herald]
Nationally: Despite a rancorous debate about his record on Israel and Iran, former Sen. Chuck Hagel cleared the Senate Armed Services Committee. The full Senate is expected to vote on his confirmation for Defense secretary sometime this week. [Politico] [WaPost] [NYTimes]
-> Top Senate Democrats have plans to meet with President Obama at the White House sometime this week to figure out details of an immigration overhaul. [Politico]
-> The Senate passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act by a strong 78-22. Sens. Hatch and Lee both voted against the bill, while all female senators -- regardless of party -- voted yes. [NYTimes] [WaPost] [Politico]
-> The Washington Post wrongly reported that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would be hopping from Fox News to Al Jazeera's English outlet. While Palin is indeed leaving Fox, the erroneous claimed stemmed from a satirical piece. [Politico]
Where are they?