The fiery AG debate. Modest Obamacare growth in Utah. Potential changes to the state's divorce class.
Happy Thursday. Former President George W. Bush tried to buck up the field goal kicker for Alabama who has received death threats for missing three kicks in his team's heartbreaking loss to Alabama. He sent this note:
Dear Cade (#43), life has its setbacks. I know! However, you will be a stronger human with time. I wish you all the best. Sincerely, another 43, George Bush. [FoxNews]
Topping the news: The seven candidates vying to replace former Attorney General John Swallow held their first debate on Wednesday, arguing over whether the victor should be a caretaker or run again in 2014, but they did all agreed on one thing––it's time to clean up the mess that Swallow left behind. [Trib] [DNews] [Fox13] [ABC4]
-> Brent Ward dropped out of the attorney general contest over questions of if he was a Utah resident. Ward had worked in Washington, D.C. and lived and voted in Virginia in 2010, and according to state law constitutes giving up his residency. [Trib] [DNews]
-> More than 1,500 Utahns enrolled in insurance found through the federal health exchange in November, quadrupling October's low total. The state now has a grand total of 1,865 individuals enrolled in insurance through Obamacare, still far below early expectations. [Trib]
Tweets of the day: From @PostReid: "Weirdest thing I learned today: UT Gov. Gary Herbert's son-in-law, Ben Cahoon, will be inducted into the CFL hall of fame next year."
From @SteveMartinToGo: "Whatever your religion, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas."
In other news: People trying to get a divorce in Utah have to attend a one-hour class in the middle of the court proceeding, but a lawmaker wants to move that class to the beginning of the process in hopes of changing some minds. The question is whether it is constitutional. [Trib]
-> The Division of Air Quality imposed a mandatory no-burn day for five counties – Cache, Salt Lake, Davis, Utah and Weber – before air conditions get too unhealthy. The state is also asking motorist to slow down driving habits even though pollution hasn't breached federal standards. [Trib] [DNews]
-> NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander told the Senate Judiciary Committee the NSA needs its controversial metadata program to connect the dots and thwart future acts of terrorism. [Trib]
-> The Legislature may create a six-person constituent service office to help state lawmakers who get requests of help from the public. [UtahPolicy]
-> The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 31st Annual Assessment of Hunger and Homelessness told Congress that funds to help the poor shouldn't be cut from the budget. [Trib]
-> The recent cold spell has caused problems for UTA's FrontRunner and Trax leading to a high number of rush-hour delays. The UTA will take measure not usually needed until January or February to prevent further delays. [Trib] [KUTV]
-> Witnesses testified before the House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit stating the pros and cons of the recent expansion of rail lines in the Salt Lake Valley. Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff lauded Utah's efforts saying it decreases congestion and pollution and boosts jobs, but a transit skeptic asks why has Utah's usage rate of public transportation declined over time. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley gives his take on what would happen if the LDS church went to space. [Trib]
-> Rep. Jason Chaffetz will travel to New Hampshire in February to attend a fundraiser to help former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta get back into Congress. Chaffetz will make the appearance after visiting Iowa. [WMUR]
-> Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. was nominated to Chevron's board of directors. He already serves on the board of Ford and Catepillar. [StreetInsider]
-> Senior District Judge Robert Estes said state engineer Jason King's investigation did not adequately show that Southern Nevada Water Authority’s proposed groundwater scheme would pump these basins dry or conflict with existing water rights. [Trib]
-> Utah ranks as the 6th healthiest state in the union because of low prevalence of smoking, binge drinking, obesity and diabetes according to the United Health Foundation’s annual health ranking of states. [Trib]
-> A consultant looking into moving the Draper prison said it would take until spring of 2015 to launch such an ambitious project, drawing a rebuke from a state lawmaker who says that isn't fast enough. [Trib] [DNews]
-> About 50 student protesters confronted University of Utah President David Pershing over allegations that he's trying to push out the vice president of diversity, which Pershing denies. [Trib]
-> Sen. Mike Lee will oppose the emerging bipartisan budget deal that would replace part of sequestration saying it doesn't go far enough to curb the nation's fiscal ills, while Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he's inclined to support it. The House is expected to vote on Thursday. [Herald]
-> Bryan Schott looks back at the fascinating political year that was. [UtahPolicy]
Nationally: The chief of staff of Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was arrested for possession and distribution of child pornography. Alexander fired Jesse Ryan Loskarn on Wednesday and said he was stunned, surprised and disappointed. [WaPost] [Politico] [CNN] [NYTimes]
-> House Republicans appear to be rallying behind the $85 billion budget deal to change sequestration and avoid a possible government shutdown. After several closed-door meetings top GOP aides said the bill should sail swiftly through the House. [WaPost] [Politico] [NYTimes]
-> President Barack Obama's “indispensable man” Pete Rouse, who built the Obama organization, hired nearly everyone and plotted out strategies is leaving the White House after nine years. [NYTimes]
Where are they?