Political Cornflakes: Beto O’Rourke joins the presidential field. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s response: ‘Just one more.’

FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 file photo, former Democratic Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke laughs during a live interview with Oprah Winfrey on a Times Square stage at "SuperSoul Conversations," in New York. O'Rourke formally announced Thursday that he'll seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, ending months of intense speculation over whether he'd try to translate his newfound political celebrity into a White House bid. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Happy Thursday! Beto O’Rourke has decided to run for president. Add him to the laundry list of Democratic hopefuls that now includes Sens. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand. As one senior senator told us last night, the weekly caucus lunches are getting fun. So what does Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat who passed on running himself, think of Beto’s entrance to the race: "Just one more, one more, one more gets in the race,” Brown said during an appearance on CNN. “Bring ’em in, and it’ll be an interesting primary fight.”

Topping the news: Utah’s hate crime law has long been regarded as weak and difficult to pursue, but on Wednesday the Senate gave final approval of a bill seeking to remedy the law and make it more enforceable. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Thatcher, would allow judges to increase criminal penalties against perpetrators who commit a crime based off of ancestry, race, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and several other protected classes. [Trib] [ABC4] [KSL]

-> After much discussion, Utah lawmakers approved a deal to put beer in grocery and convenience stores with a stronger alcohol allowance. The bill bumps the allowance to 4 percent, rather than the original 4.8 percent proposed. [Trib] [Fox13] [ABC4] [KSL]

-> President Donald Trump’s decision to cut the Bears Ears and grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments sparked outrage amongst Democratic and tribal leaders. The first hearing on the motion played out Wednesday and resulted in a heated discussion over Trump’s actions. [Trib] [KSL]

Tweets of the day: From @spicy_emma: “I believe women because of Susan Powell. I believe women because of Lauren McCluskey. I believe women because of my friends. I believe women because I, a woman, want others to believe me.”

-> @aedwardslevy: “The campaign is still in beto testing.”

-> @SpencerJCox: “Today I convinced my friend Pamela Atkinson to try sushi for the very first time. I love everything about her kind and adventurous spirit. It brightened my day.”

Happy Birthday to: Utah first lady Jeanette Herbert, Julian Babbitt and Julie Chaffetz.

In the news: Two individuals were charged Wednesday for illegally purchasing the gun that killed University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey. One of the two, 21-year-old Nathan Daniel Vogel lent the gun to Lauren’s murderer and ex-boyfriend who used the weapon to kill her. According to a university police statement given in October, Vogel lent the gun without knowing what his friend intended to use it for. [Trib] [Fox13] [KSL]

-> In wake of Lauren McCluskey’s murder and mishandling by the University of Utah, lawmakers passed a bill ordering campuses to create specific safety plans to aid sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence victims. [Trib] [KSL]

-> Utah Lawmakers gave their final approval for a piece of legislation that would boost criminal penalties for professors who engage in sexual conduct with students 17-years-old and younger. More and more students are graduating from high school early and heading to university before turning 18. Lawmakers behind the bill are aiming to protect these minors. [Trib]

-> After soaring through the House on Tuesday, a bill that would allow Utah residents to obtain an electronic copy of their driver license so they can carry the document on their phones passed the Senate and heads to the governor. [Trib]

-> HB353, a bill intended to reduce overall air pollution, passed through the Senate on Wednesday. The legislation will create 17 free-fare days on Utah Transit Authority buses and trains over the course of the next three years. Lawmakers hope this will help encourage more people to try out public transportation and the free-fare days will deliberately occur on bad air days. [Trib]

-> Utah legislators approved a bill that would lessen the harshest sentence for a class A misdemeanor by a single day — a decision that could help both legal and illegal immigrants convicted of a minor crime avoid deportation. [Trib]

-> Utah Lawmakers voted to raise the legal purchasing and using age for tobacco products from 19-years-old to 21 steadily over the next couple of years. However, the bill was amended last minute to include a stipulation saying active duty military members are exempt from the law and can use the products before turning 21. [Trib] [KSL]

-> Utah lawmakers gave final passage to bill that will add a resolution onto a ballot question next year. Utah residents will have the opportunity to vote on whether they feel a loophole in the Utah Constitution should be fixed so it no longer says slavery as a punishment for a crime is legal. [Trib]

-> Lawmakers from the Senate voted in favor of a bill that would delay the implementation of ballot initiatives that are approved by voters in order to give lawmakers an opportunity to change them if they desire. [Trib]

-> A bill that could divert $53 million in state funds to a terminal export project in California passed through the house Wednesday afternoon. [Trib]

-> Utah lawmakers voted along party lines and approved a piece of legislation that will ban abortions after 18-weeks, despite legal challenges the bill will almost indefinitely face in court. [Trib] [Fox13] [ABC4]

-> Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke defends Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s decision to sue over the inland port planned for the western part of the city. He said her decision makes sense, “both practically and politically.” [Trib]

-> Michelle Quist criticizes former state Sen. Orrin Hatch’s new building planned for construction in his honor. Quist outlined several alternative ways the hefty sum could be distributed, she called the “shrine” just another symbol of Utah’s “GOP bro club.” [Trib]

-> Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley drew his rendition of former Sen. Orrin Hatch’s planned building in his honor. [Trib]

Nationally: A federal judge increased Paul Manafort’s prison sentence to about seven and a half years. Manafort served as President Trump’s former campaign chairman. Not long after delivering the sentence, other charges were filed. The Manhattan district attorney filed a series of state criminal charges — these charges could solidify Manafort’s sentence, even if the president pardoned him. [NYTimes] [Politico] [WaPost]

-> The Senate voted across party lines to end American military assistance to Saudi Arabia in its war against Yemen — again. [NYTimes] [Politico] [WaPost]

-> President Trump will likely whip out his veto pen this week for the first time of his presidency. The Senate is scheduled to vote today on approving the president’s emergency border wall declaration and it’s not expected to go his way. [Politico] [WaPost] [NYTimes]

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-- Thomas Burr and Sahalie Donaldson