News roundup: Mitt Romney criticizes Russia's Olympic spending
GOP lawmakers defend gay marriage ban. Romney criticizes Olympic spending. Voting twice changes little in state Senate.
Happy Wednesday. Mitt Romney argues that its time to set a cap on Olympic spending, saying the $50 billion Russia plowed into Sochi is way too high. The 2002 Games in Salt Lake cost less than $3 billion. [USAToday]
Topping the news: Why does Utah's Senate vote on bills twice and what is the impact? A BYU political scientists says the practice has little impact. If the Senate passes a bill on first reading it is all but assured to gain final approval on a second vote. [DataPoints]
-> Eighty-one Republican state legislators defended Utah's gay marriage ban in a brief to the 10th Circuit. That's all but four of the sitting GOP lawmakers. [Trib] [KUER] [Fox13] [ABC4]
-> The Senate warily advanced a bill to exempt the NSA data center in Bluffdale from paying taxes on its electrical bill. [Trib] [DNews] [KUER]
Tweet of the day: From @TroyWilliamsSLC: "Thnx for the support. Did our protest work? The Gov's office graciously called me this morning. More talks to come."
From @SenatorSteveU: "'Did our protest work?' @TroyWilliamsSLC Not if the goal was to move #sb100 forward. Arrests = drama. Mtg. w/Pres = progress."
Happy birthday: to Tribune alum Carol Sisco.
On the Hill: AG Sean Reyes is asking the Legislature for help to pay for the appeal of the ruling striking down the gay marriage pprohibition. [APviaHerald]
-> Reyes also announced the state will appeal a judge's ruling that struck down key parts of Utah's polygamy laws. [ApviaHerald]
-> Rep. Jim Dunnigan is preparing four bill in reaction to the John Swallow scandal. [UtahPolicy]
-> House Speaker Becky Lockhart's $300 million education proposal will include $50 million to improve wireless capabilities in schools. [Trib] [DNews] [Herald]
-> The House passed legislation creating grants to help at-risk children attend preschool. [Trib] [UtahPolicy]
-> A House panel passed a bill allowing parents to see the questions from the end of year state test before their children take them. [Trib] [DNews] [Herald]
-> Legislation allowing the state to enact air-quality standards stricter than federal regulations barely passed a Senate Committee. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Lawmakers requested more than $7 million for air quality projects. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley gives his take on second hand smog. [Trib]
-> Legislation giving broad immunity to police officers from lawsuits by suspects injured in police chases passed a Senate committee despite concerns that the bill may encourage reckless behavior. [Trib] [KUTV]
-> Sen. Luz Robles talks about her bill to make not wearing a seatbelt a primary offense on the Trib's new video feature "In Their Own Words." [Trib] A Senate committee killed the bill. [Trib]
-> Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, is proposing a bill to ban aggressive panhandling and other conduct that blocks traffic on some roadways. [DNews] [KUTV]
-> Paul Rolly discusses how a bill making revenge porn a felony is a refreshing show of bipartisanship. [Trib]
-> Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, wants to require voters to opt-in for their information to be public rather than opt-out as the law is now. [Fox13]
-> Advocates questioned a legislative estimate that raising the minimum wage to $10.25 per hour would cost the state $20 million each year. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Supporters of a compromise bill on stream access for recreationalists rallied at the Capitol. [Trib] [DNews]
-> The House Republican Caucus delayed a discussion about moving the state prison in Draper. [DNews]
-> The House unanimously voted to set aside March 29 as day to honor Vietnam vets. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Lawmakers took some electric cars for a spin. [ABC4]
In other news: Utah health officials found higher rates of some types of cancer in areas around Stericycle's medical incinerator. However, the increased cancer rate may not be linked to the incinerator. [Trib] [DNews] [KUER]
-> NSA protesters picked up litter in front of the NSA data center. [Trib]
-> The Davis County Board of Health approved restrictions on the amount on nicotine in e-cigarettes. [Trib]
-> Josh Romney said he would like his dad, Mitt Romney, to run for president again, but it's not going to happen. [Fox13]
Nationally: The House passed a no strings attached debt ceiling extension. All four of Utah's House members opposed the bill. It passed largely with Democratic votes. [WaPost]
-> AG Eric Holder urged states to repeal laws that keep felons from voting. [NYTimes]
-> Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, plans to sue President Barack Obama and NSA officials challenging surveillance practices. [CNN]
-> Check out some picture from the State Dinner for French President Francois Hollande. [WaPost]
Where are they?
Rep. Jason Chaffetz hits a Homeland Security hearing and flies to the Middle East. (Plans could change because of winter storm.)
Rep. Chris Stewart meets with the Rural Water Association of Utah, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, and Habitat For Humanity. He then leaves for Salt Lake City. (Plans could change because of winter storm.)
Gov. Gary Herbert meets with Democratic leaders, attends a Native American Blessing Ceremony, meets with the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce and goes to a town hall meeting with Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox meets with legislative leaders.
SL Co. Mayor Ben McAdams meets with South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood, attends a SLCC Presidential Search Committee meeting, a Criminal Justice Advisory meeting and his son's Jr. Jazz basketball game.
President Barack Obama speaks on the importance of raising the minimum wage and signs an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally funded employees $10.10 per hour.
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Matt Canham and Topher Webb Twitter.com/mattcanham and Twitter.com/topherjwebb