President Donald Trump loves bashing California and its liberal lawmakers. And now that progressive Democrats are pushing for a California-style Green New Deal to fight climate change and progressive California Senator Kamala Harris has become a front-runner for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump, the president’s allies have begun framing 2020 as a last stand against the hippie Californication of America. Dan Patrick, the Republican lieutenant governor of Texas, has suggested that Trump’s reelection slogan should be: “I’m not going to let the Democrats turn America into California.” [POLITICO]

Happy Thursday.

Topping the news: A controversial bill that would cap legal abortion at 18 weeks — and would almost certainly face a legal challenge, if ultimately passed — moved through a House committee with a vote of 7-5 and will now be considered on the chamber’s floor. [Trib] [Fox13] [DNews]

-> Conversion therapy, a discredited practice aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, could be banned in Utah under a new bill that would make the practice illegal when used on minors. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said it won’t oppose the measure. [Trib] [Fox13] [DNews]

-> Proposition 3, a voter-approved initiative for a full Medicaid expansion, was more popular with Utah voters than nine of the Republican lawmakers who voted to repeal and replace it. [Trib]

-> Lauren’s Law, named after a slain University of Utah student, has been held up in committee after opposition from gun advocates. The bill would allow legal action to be taken against a person who loans out a firearm that ends up being used in a felony. [Trib] [DNews]

Tweets of the day: From @ryanbeckwith “Suggested headline for Wired coverage of an o’rourke announcement: BETO MOVES OUT OF BETA”

-> From @pourmecoffee “Which candidate is promising a Gmail Android dark mode?”

Happy Birthday: To former state Rep. Laura Black; Melanie Bowen, who served as former Sen. Orrin Hatch’s state director; and Rep. Steve Waldrip.

Trib Talk: On this week’s episode, Sandy City Deputy Mayor Evelyn Everton and Tribune government reporter Taylor Stevens join Benjamin Wood to discuss the cause of the recent water contamination crisis, the city’s response, and its potential impact on water-treatment debates in Salt Lake County. [Trib]

In other news: A man who allegedly attacked a Latino father and son outside their family business while yelling that he wanted to “kill a Mexican" was charged with three federal hate crimes. County prosecutors said they were unable to charge such enhancements in the case due to Utah’s nearly unenforceable hate crimes law. [Trib] [Fox13]

-> While independent investigators look into Sandy’s handling of a recent water contamination crisis, the city’s Public Utilities director has been put on a paid administrative leave. [Trib] [Fox13] [DNews]

-> Utah lawmakers are looking to fix what they say is a broken tax system by repealing tax exemptions, increasing the types of services taxed and levying excise taxes. [Trib]

-> A bill that would allow for depleted uranium disposal at a radioactive waste landfill near Grantsville cleared the Senate on Wednesday. [Trib] [DNews]

-> Utah lawmakers want to increase education spending per student by $128 million this year — but it’s a small enough bump that it likely won’t take the state out of last place in the nation for per-pupil funding. [Trib]

-> Uthans could soon seen a sales tax imposed on online purchases made from small third-party retailers, thanks to a bill that cleared a Senate taxation committee on Wednesday. [Trib]

-> After narrowly clearing committee with a vote of 6-5, a repeatedly defeated bill to end straight-party voting in Utah will now move to the full House. [Trib]

->A bill that would extend by two months a March deadline for convenience and grocery stores in Utah to apply for a liquor license cleared a legislative committee. [Trib]

-> Lawmakers gave unanimous approval in a House committee on Wednesday to a proposal that would require the renewal of a Utah Driver’s License once every eight years rather than every five. [Trib]

-> A move to legalize driverless autonomous cars on Utah roads is on its way to the Senate after passing through the House. The bill’s sponsor said its aim is to move testing on the new vehicles from private tracks. [Trib] [DNews]

-> All Utah Transit Authority buses and trains will be free on Feb. 28 and March 1 as part of a promotion to attract new riders and an experiment in reducing air pollution. [Trib]

-> Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, the attorney representing a coalition of groups suing the state for passing a substitute bill for Proposition 2 on medical marijuana, says the current law is the equivalent of a state-run “drug cartel.” [Fox13] [ABC4]

-> Utah Gov. Gary Herbert expressed concern over the introduction of a bill that would allow for betting on horse races, fearing that the measure could create constitutional loopholes in a state where gambling is completely illegal, including on Indian reservations. [Fox13]

-> Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke explains why the horse betting bill is not likely to pass through the Legislature. [Trib]

-> Pat Bagley illustrates a version of The Princess and the Pea that takes place during the 2020 presidential election. [Trib]

Nationally: President Donald Trump is in the process of establishing a panel to study the effects of climate change on national security. The body will include a White House adviser whose views are at odds with the established scientific consensus that carbon dioxide pollution is dangerous for the planet. [NYTimes]

-> House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that the chamber would likely soon vote on a resolution to oppose the president’s recent declaration of a state of national emergency. [WaPost]

-> Trump’s top air pollution regulator was partner to a lobbying firm that, according to records obtained by Politico, was paid millions of dollars by coal companies to fight Obama-era environmental rules. [Politico]

-> A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and self-identified white nationalist was apprehended for planning a domestic terrorist attack targeting politicians and journalists. The man had stockpiled a large amount of weapons and ammunition in his Maryland home. [WaPost]

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-- Taylor Stevens and Christina Giardinelli