Lee now 7th most conservative. Obama weighing gay marriage brief. Gun time on Utah's Capitol Hill.
Happy Thursday. Sen. Mike Lee isn't the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate. He's not even the second-most conservative. In fact, six senators top the Utah Republican on the right-wing scale over Lee, according to a new vote breakdown by National Journal. The publication says Lee is the 6th most conservative senator, while Sen. Orrin Hatch rounds out the top 10.
-> National Journal, which rates members on how they vote as compared to each other, put Sen. James Risch of Idaho as the most conservative guy, followed by Sens. John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, Pat Toomey, Ron Johnson and Rand Paul. On the other side of the spectrum, Sens. Tom Udall and Richard Blumenthal are the most liberal senators.
Topping the news: President Barack Obama is considering filing a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court on gay marriage. If the administration joins -- and how much it pushes -- could suggest how serious the Obama White House is about the issue. [WaPost]
-> It was a busy day for guns on the Hill -- four bills passed through the House, one of which would allow guns to be carried without concealed carry permits.
-> Five theories on why Mitt Romney, absent for a while now, is reappearing to speak at the CPAC conference soon. [TheWeek]
Tweet of the day: From @NatalieCGordon: "My daughter is learning that the U.S. Supreme Court makes sure laws follow the Constitution. At least one Utah Senator disagrees."
And from: @amyewalter: "Looking at Bloomberg & Pew polls, the GOPs 'it was Obama's idea' defense on sequester looks like a loser.
Happy birthday: To former state Rep. Laura Black and Sen. Orrin Hatch's state director, Melanie Bowen.
In other news: Sen. Hatch hit the state Capitol yesterday, where he said that even though sequestration could furlough Hill Air Force Base workers, he supports the plan to get spending under control. Hatch also said that he's in favor of immigration reforms like overhauling the visa process, instead of more broad solutions.
-> Hatch joined fellow conservative lawmakers in filing a brief in U.S. 10th District Court in defense of Hobby Lobby, a craft store chain that rejected the contraceptive co-pay mandate. [DNews]
-> Joanna Brooks looks at why Sen. Mike Lee voted against the Violence Against Women Act and notes his father's work to fight against the Equal Amendment Act. [ReligionDispatches]
-> After a pot bust in Provo, Mayor John Curtis took to his blog not only to praise the neighbors who called in the tip, but to ask the public for some slang terms for marijuana. [Trib]
-> Massive, dumping snowstorms, icy roads and bitter temperatures have sent Salt Lake City's snow fighting funds $673,000 over budget. [Trib]
-> More than half of those receiving aid from the Workforce Investment Act and one fourth of kids covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program had problems with their files, according to a state audit. [Trib]
-> Peg McEntee writes about Sen. Margaret Dayton's anti-abortion push. [Trib]
-> After sorting through 60 applications, rooting out 37 qualified applicants and interviewing eight of them this week, the Department of Corrections is getting closer to finding its new boss. [Trib]
-> Newly-minted Taylorsville Mayor Jerry Rechtenbach gave his first State of the City address. [Trib]
From the Hill: Here's your daily legislative schedule. [Trib]
-> The Hale Center Theatre is asking for $2 million in funding from the legislature to build a $65 million three stage complex. [Trib]
-> The Senate passed a bill that would give the governor more leeway in hiring the Department of Transportation chief. [Trib]
-> According to a new bill, motorists would be able to keep information recorded in their car's "black box" -- a contraption that that records speed and other factors when brakes and seatbelts are used. [Trib]
-> Rural state agencies wouldn't be allowed to clock overtime hours to keep their offices open, under a new bill. [Trib]
Nationally: Arizona's two Republican Senators -- both of whom are members of the Gang of Eight a bipartisan immigration reform group -- are angling away from all-inclusive solutions and inching back towards advocating tighter border security. [NYTimes]
-> Up to 800,000 civilian Defense Department workers are facing furloughs, if budget cuts go into play, the Pentagon announced. [WaPost]
-> #TeamCoco is coming back to the White House: Conan O'Brien is set to headline this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner, for the second time -- late-night's favorite redhead also performed in 1995. [Politico] [NYTimes]
Where are they?
-- Thomas Burr and Emily Andrews
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