Counties talk secession, North Colorado state. U. coach tops salary in Utah. Food stamp drug tests cost $26,000.
Happy Thursday. Some rural Colorado counties aren't happy with what their state is doing and are talking about seceding to create North Colorado. Some 10 counties have talked about such a move -- which hasn't happened since West Virginia broke off during the Civil War -- and if that doesn't work out, the backup plan is to seek a state senator for every county so they have more say. [CBS4]
Topping the news: U. football coach Kyle Whittingham is the highest paid among the state's university officials. Take a look at who else comes in tops. [Trib]
-> A new policy, introduced last year, to screen and drug test welfare applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, has cost the state over $26,000 so far. [Trib]
-> After a closed-door meeting Wednesday, GOP Reps. Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart left the certain that the Senate version of immigration reform was not the right way to go, preferring a more piecemeal approach. [Trib] Other Republicans seem split on what approach is best: [Politico] [NYTimes].
Tweets of the day: From @frankthorpNBC: "Rep Huelskamp after mtg: 'Trusting Barack Obama with border security is like trusting my daughter with Bill Clinton.'"
Happy birthday: to state Rep. Spencer Cox.
In other news: Sen. Orrin Hatch backed legislation that would protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. With his support, the legislation passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday. [Trib] [NYTimes]
-> The Utah Department of Transport will narrow I-15 through Lehi to two lanes this Friday to begin bridge maintenance. The work will be confined to weekends and is expected to continue through September. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley gives his take on the GOP's attitude toward Obamacare. [Trib]
-> Utah's Veterans Reintegration Task Force helps veterans who are involved in criminal proceedings and may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or other mental health issues. The task force is also working to help reduce suicide among veterans. [Trib]
-> The Utah Transit Authority denied a request to lower a goal that employees must meet to receive bonuses. Last year authority workers split around $750,000 in bonuses. [Trib]
-> State Auditor John Dougall is keen to launch an audit of AG John Swallow's office, but he doesn't want to get in the way of Legislative Auditor General John Schaff. Instead, at this stage, the pair are consulting on the investigation. [DNews]
-> Bryan Schott says the only reason House Republicans are going after Swallow is because they're worried Swallow could hurt their own election chances. [UtahPolicy]
-> Nate Carlisle wonders how much a lack of personal connections influences public opinion on polygamy. [Trib]
-> Sen. Mike Lee says the Obama administration doesn't need to fill three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the president just wants to pack the court. [TPM]
Nationally: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Congress that U.S. national security could be significantly compromised if harsh budget cuts are not lifted in October. [NYTimes]
-> A procedural Senate vote that would have retrospectively maintained the interest rate on federally subsidized student loans at 3.4 percent for another year failed on Wednesday. A bipartisan group of senators came together Wednesday night to work on a new deal. [Politico] [WaPost]
-> Mitt Romney is jumping back into politics a bit. The former Republican presidential nominee is hosting a fund-raiser for the New Hampshire GOP in August. [CNN]
-> Lawmakers have accused the Obama administration of failing to speak frankly on government surveillance programs, instead offering misleading testimony. [WaPost]
-> The House GOP has renewed efforts to gather enough votes to pass a pared-back version of the farm bill, splitting it in two to divide the portion dealing with food stamps from the rest of the bill. The White House has already issued a veto threat. [Politico]
Where are they?