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(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney isn't talking much about his Mormon faith in this campaign. But in a major speech on religion during his first presidential run, he tried to assure Americans that he would put the country's interests first -- not the interests of his church. He also echoed the LDS view that the United States is a beacon to the world that was founded with the help of divine inspiration.
News roundup: Romney blasts 'personalities' who benefit from Olympic spending

Romney blasts 'personalities' who benefit from Olympic spending. Utah lawmaker: Cut of NSA data center water. Congress taps Utah bill to restore military pension cut.

Happy Thursday. Mitt Romney complained this week that Olympic spending is out of control, he also took a shot at those who benefit from it: "Government personalities are promoting themselves and their country with someone else's money." That's interesting, as one columnist points out, since Romney himself parlayed his success with the Salt Lake Olympics into the governor's office in Massachusetts and mentioned it constantly on the campaign trail for president. [TheWire]

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Topping the news: Lawmakers unveiled a list of recommended changes to election laws that arose from the House investigation of former AG John Swallow. [Trib] [DNews] [APviaHerald] [KUER] [Fox13] [KUTV] [ABC4] Meanwhile, a confidential draft report on the Swallow probe has been given to committee members. [UtahPolicy]

-> A Utah lawmaker wants to cut off water from the NSA's data center in Bluffdale. [Trib] [Herald] [Guardian]

-> A Senate committee passed legislation that could possibly raise the gas tax ever year if gas prices keep increasing. [Trib] [Herald] [KUER]

-> Congress is not as simple as School House Rock led us all to believe. [Trib]

Tweet of the day: From @SLTribCrimeDesk: "As soon as we get the legal name of the Abraham Lincoln impersonator at #utleg, we will check him for criminal record. Just 'cuz."

From @SenLyleHillyard: "Abe Lincoln visiting @utahsenate today. And no @waynenieder I did not hear the Gettysburg Address when it was first delivered."

From @utpolcapitol: "Lincoln: "A government by the people, for the people, of the people, shall not perish from this Earth...Also, what's Google"

Snow day: The Office of Personnel Management: "FEDERAL OFFICES in the Washington, DC, area are CLOSED. Emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their agency's policies." D.C.'s government, schools and universities are shuttered as well. This time, it's not over Obamacare but some five to 11 inches of snow.

On the Hill: Look, more bills and meetings! Today's schedule [Trib]

-> Lawmakers advanced a bill to create a tax credit for purchasing an electric car. They also advanced a bill raising registration costs on clean fuel vehicles in order to pay for the credit. [Trib] [DNews]

-> Meanwhile, a measure that would have allowed the Legislature to ask for a binding public vote on any tax increase has essentially died in committee. [UtahPolicy]

-> Legislation to prevent conflicts of interest in elections law investigations is headed to the governor's office. [Trib]

-> A House committee advanced a $20 million bill to replace old diesel school buses with alternative fuel buses. [ABC4]

-> A House panel passed legislation to curb aggressive panhandling. [Trib] [DNews] [Herald] [Fox13]

-> Legislation helping protect the rights of unwed fathers in adoption cases passed a Senate committee. [Trib]

-> Lawmakers are working to avoid a fight between Kennecott and Rocky Mountain Power. [Trib]

-> A House panel passed legislation to extend the length of time the state offers certain services to refugees. [DNews]

-> A House committee passed a bill allowing Utahns to make their voter registration records completely private. [Trib]

-> The bill allowing UDOT to raise speed limits to 80 mph where the agency sees fit passed a Senate Committee. [Trib] [DNews]

-> Lawmakers put legislation permitting motorcycles to drive in between lanes in slow or stooped traffic on hold. [DNews]

-> The House killed a proposal to make any online sales tax collection revenue neutral, if such collection were approved by Congress. [Trib]

-> The House passed legislation to clarify the role of local school board members. [DNews]

-> Abraham Lincoln visited the Capitol. Yes, there are photos. [DNews]

-> Bryan Schott, a former Democratic Party official, says Dems are missing opportunities to get their message out this session and need a better media strategy. [UtahPolicy]

-> State Sen. Daniel Thatcher talks to Schott about his education-related bills this session. [UtahPolicy]

-> Count My Vote initiative advocates said direct primaries will empower women voters. [Trib]

-> Utah's Latino Legislative Caucus went after Republican lawmakers for not taking action on expanding Medicaid. [Trib] [DNews]

-> The Utah JumpStart Coalition held an event in support of legislation to improve financial literacy education in high school. [DNews]

In other news: Two employees suspended in the Uintah Elementary school lunch scandal will return to work. [Trib] [DNews]

-> Of the more than 29,000 Utahns who found health insurance plans on healthcare.gov 36 percent enrolled in January. [Trib] [APviaHerald]

-> Sen. Mike Lee wants to bring back the work for welfare requirements that ended in President Barack Obama's economic stimulus of 2009. [TownHall]

-> Utah farmers say food prices will go up if immigration reform only focuses on enforcement. [Trib]

-> Pat Bagley pokes fun at the persecuted rich. [Trib]

Nationally: The Senate on Wednesday followed the House in passing an expansion of the nation's borrowing limit, though the bill had to overcome Sen. Ted Cruz's insistence on a 60-vote threshold. [WaPost]

-> For the first time federal and state health insurance marketplace opened the number of people who signed up for plans exceeded the government's expectations. [WaPost]

-> The Senate also voted to restore military benefits cut in the last budget deal. [WaPost]

-> Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was convicted of 20 federal corruption charges. [TimesPicayune]

Where are they?

  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz continues his trip abroad for the Oversight Committee.
  • Rep. Chris Stewart attends a Boys and Girls Club breakfast.
  • Gov. Gary Herbert hits the weekly legislative leadership meeting, meets with Ute Tribal leaders and goes to a Tribal Council meeting at American Indian Caucus Day.
  • Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox also hits American Indian Caucus day and speaks at Senior Day at the Legislature.
  • SL Co. Mayor Ben McAdams attends the SL Co. Caucus meeting and the Utah Association of Counties meeting. He also speaks at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo, the Mountain Urbanism, Mountain Modernism Mayor's symposium, the SL Co. Youth Services 40th Anniversary Celebration and at the Grand Unveiling of a new X-ray machine at SL Co. Animal Services.
  • SLC Mayor Ralph Becker hits the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Meeting in Los Angeles.
  • President Barack Obama has no public events.

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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