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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney signs autographs after taping an episode of the "Late Show with David Letterman," in New York, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
News roundup: Mitt Romney leads GOP pack for 2016 nomination

2016 GOP frontrunner: Romney, again. Senators demand action at Uintah Elementary. Lockhart pushes for new technology for schools.

Happy Friday. This is not a story from The Onion: The leading candidate for president in 2016, according to New Hampshire voters: Mitt Romney. A recent poll in the Granite State showed a quarter of residents would back Romney again, far more than other potential contenders. Romney has clearly said he's not running again but at least he knows he's still well-liked in the state. [NJ]

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Topping the news: Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said Uintah Elementary School taking away lunches from students whose parents were behind in paying was "an abuse of power." [Trib] [DNews]

-> House Speaker Becky Lockhart is finishing up a bill to give students access to new learning technology. The legislation would cost between $200 million and $300 million. [Trib]

-> The outside counsel hired to help the state with its Amendment 3 appeal met with the House GOP Caucus in a closed meeting. The caucus discussed state of the appeal and where it could go, but did not have much discussion about whether to push legislation on same-sex issues. [Trib] [Fox13] [DNews] [Herald]

Tweet of the day: from @kirstenfrankly: "If I had $1 for everytime someone at the #utleg asked me why I'm not married, I'd be able to fund @RobertGehrke's taffy habit permanently."

Happy Birthday: Today to state Sen. Pat Jones and Michael Kempner and on Sunday to state Reps. Michael Kennedy and Kay Christofferson.

On the Hill: Wrapping up week one: day five schedule [Trib]

-> The conservative Sutherland Institute apologized and pulled a television ad against proposed legislation banning housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation because the ad was misleading. [Trib] [DNews]

-> House and Senate Republican leaders are not totally on board with all of Gov. Gary Herbert's clean air proposals. [DNews] Specifically, the Senate doesn't like the idea of restricting wood burning stoves because its the sold heating source for some people. [UtahPolicy]

-> Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, proposed a bill to restrict drone use by state and local governments, state agencies and law enforcement. [Trib]

-> Rep. Michael Kennedy, R-Alpine, is touting a measure that would restrict bathroom use to a student's gender at birth. [UtahPolicy]

-> Proposed legislation would allow hemp supplements, which are non-intoxicating, to be imported into the state. [Trib] [KUTV]

-> Pat Bagley offers his take on Utah lawmakers concerned that gays have ruined the word gay. [Trib]

-> Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick discuss the Legislature's first week on the job. [UtahPolicy]

-> Bernick says that Lockhart's leadership during the Swallow probe was a defining moment for her. [UtahPolicy]

-> The House added a provision granting anonymity as well as immunity to those who report overdose victims to the Good Samaritan bill the body passed yesterday. [Trib] [DNews]

-> Rep. Lee Perry,R-Perry, introduced measures with different ways of tackling drunk driving and people not wearing seat belts. [Trib]

-> Urban and rural lawmakers disagree over the legal battle to prevent federal wilderness protection of 12,000 rural Utah roads. [KUER]

-> A bill would allow children 11 and over to get a hunting license without taking classes. They would have to be accompanied by an adult over 21 and could not use guns or archery equipment until the age of 12. [Trib] [Herald]

In other news: The the Volunteers of America and other groups are counting SL Co.'s homeless population for the annual census. [Trib] [KUTV]

-> Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced a bill to tax the NFL and other professional sports leagues with non-profit status. [Trib]

-> Demolition started on Salt Lake City's Regent Street in order to make way for a theater. The street was once a commercial hub and later became a home to brothels. [Trib]

-> Gov. Herbert and local business leaders started a $2 million campaign aimed at interesting children in science, technology, engineering and math fields. [DNews] [APviaHerald] [KUTV] [ABC4]

-> A lesbian couple sued the state asking that Utah recognize their marriage. [DNews]

-> Paul Rolly discusses why some students in the Canyons School District cannot ride the same bus as their siblings, House Speaker Becky Lockharts's potential run for governor and other topics. [Trib]

Nationally: House Republican leaders officially said they would be open to a pathway to legal status to undocumented immigrants, but not a pathway to citizenship. [WaPost]

-> Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., will retire at the end of the session after 40 years in the House. [WaPost]

-> MSNBC has fired a staffer who sent an offensive tweet aimed at right wingers. [WaPost]

-> President Barack Obama has commitments from 300 companies such as, Ford, Apple and Wal Mart, to hire the long-term unemployed. [CNN]

Where are they?

  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz hits the Congressional Institute meetings and returns to Utah.
  • Rep. Chris Stewart attends the House Republican Conference members retreat and flies to Salt Lake City.
  • Gov. Gary Herbert tours an art studio in Pleasant Grove, meets with SL Co. Mayor Ben McAdams, hits Rural Legislative Day, meets with general counsel Jacey Skinner, Craig Peterson, UDOT executive director Carlos Braceras and Chief of Staff Derek Miller.
  • Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox attends the Governor's Rural Partnership Board Meeting.
  • SL Co. Mayor Ben McAdams meets with state Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, state Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, and staff from the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
  • President Barack Obama talks with CEOs and other leaders about the best ways to hire the long-term unemployed and discusses the State of the Union via Google+ Hangout with people across the country.

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



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