News roundup: Will Obama cover up bare-breasted statue at Justice?
Published: January 17, 2014 05:49AM
Updated: January 17, 2014 02:55PM

Poll: Utahns back medical marijuana use. Obama to reform NSA metadata program. Utah to recognize gay marriages, for tax reasons only.

Happy Friday. In a speech this morning, President Barack Obama is expected to call for the end of the controversial metadata program at the National Security Agency "as it exists currently," a move recommended by a blue-ribbon panel that suggested wide-ranging reforms. Obama is also going to call for a judicial finding before the NSA can query Americans' phone records. [CNN]

-> Related: Obama is offering his remarks in the Great Hall of the Justice Department, which, for the record, features a large "Spirit of Justice" statue, which is a woman who has one breast exposed. Question is: Will the statue be covered? Don't snicker; former AG John Ashcroft put a curtain over it. [WaPost]

Topping the news: A majority of Utahns support legalizing medical marijuana use, though a solid two thirds are against the idea of allowing recreational use like Colorado. [Trib]

-> The Utah State Tax Commission will allow same-sex couple who were married in Utah to file joint income tax returns for 2013 taxes. [Trib] [Fox13] [Herald] [KUTV] [ABC4]

-> The Utah AG's office hired Utahn Gene C. Schaerr to head up its defense of Amendment 3. [Trib] [DNews] [Fox13] [ABC4]

-> A new bill introduced into Congress would bar the feds from recognizing same-sex marriages in a state that doesn't already recognize them. [Trib]

Tweet of the day: From @jonesnews: "Are you confused about where gay marriage stands in Utah? It appears you are not alone. State agencies can sympathize with you."

Happy Birthday: Today to First Lady Michelle Obama, on Sunday to Mr. James Seaman and on Monday to former state Rep. Patrick Painter.

Happening today: The premier of "Mitt," an inside look at Mitt Romney's two presidential runs, premiers today at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center with the blessing of the former Massachusetts governor himself who is expected to be on hand for the show. [BostonHerald]

Programming note: Political Cornflakes is taking off Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday but will return to your inboxes and computer screens on Tuesday.

In other news: Gov. Gary Herbert defended his decision for Utah not to recognize same-sex marriages, saying marriage is a state's rights issue and that his job is to uphold the state Constitution. [KUER]

-> A Utah man's disability and Medicaid coverage was taken away after the Department of Workforce Services recognized his same-sex marriage and said his husband made too much money for the man to qualify. [KUTV]

-> A Utah county man with a rare genetic disease succeeded in his struggle for insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act after he was initially turned down. [KUTV]

-> The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously advanced the nomination of Utah Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Carolyn McHugh to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. McHugh would be the first Utah woman to serve on the court. [Trib]

-> President Barack Obama has nominated a Utahn to be the next ambassador the Yemen. [Trib]

-> Former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt praised Arkansas private option that's an alternative to expanding Medicaid in the state. [ArkansasNews]

-> Supporters of the Count My Vote initiative are not ready to say if they would stop their petition drive if the Legislature passes election reforms. [DNews]

-> Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick discuss why the Utah GOP isn't trying to counter the Count My Vote effort, the potential Medicaid expansion in Utah and the ruling on Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage. [UtahPolicy]

-> State Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, is putting forth a bill that would add about 3,000 at-risk children in preschool. He said this would help better prepare the children for kindergarten and grade school and save the state money and getting them up to speed. [KUER]

-> Holly Richardson, the author of the conservative blog "Holly on the Hill," will run for the state House seat from district 57, which covers parts of American Fork, Pleasant Grove and Cedar Hills. [KUTV]

-> More than $350,000 was divided among 13 clean air initiatives as part of a grant program by the Utah Clean Air Partnership. [DNews] [Fox13]

-> Farmington City Manager David Millheim said those working on moving the state prison in Draper need to work more closely with cities on any plans to expand county jails in order to take more state inmates. [Trib]

-> Pat Bagley pokes fun at a suit challenging Alta's snowboarding ban. [Trib]

-> Paul Rolly discusses undeserved parking tickets in Salt Lake City and the Tax Commission's decision to recognize same-sex couples. [Trib]

-> Utah Democratic Chairman/Sen. Jim Dabakis and former state Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright discuss improving air quality and same-sex marriage. [ABC4]

Nationally: Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will prevent another government shutdown, at least until Oct. 1. [WaPost] Sen. Orrin Hatch voted for the bill and Sen. Mike Lee voted against it. [STGNews]

-> Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., announced he will retire two years before the end of his term after the current session of Congress ends. [Oklahoman]

-> The public is sending mixed messages about how they feel about NSA telephone meta data collection and that presents challenges for creating policies. [Politico]

-> Women in Congress have made their way to the top of some of the most influential committees which puts them in charge of important legislation. [WaPost]

Where are they?

Got a tip? A birthday, wedding or anniversary to announce? Email us at cornflakes@sltrib.com. If you haven't already, sign up for our weekday email and get this sent directly to your inbox. [Trib]

-- Thomas Burr and Topher Webb
Twitter.com/thomaswburr and Twitter.com/topherjwebb