‘The Rundown’: Gov. Spencer Cox says he won’t veto the Legislature’s redistricting maps

Plus: Fringe right-wing views bubble up during a legislative hearing

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Good Wednesday morning Utah! Thanks for reading “The Rundown”.

W2W4 Wednesday

Day 2 of the special session gets underway at 10 am today.

Lawmakers will spend most of the day on the floor, working to pass the remaining redistricting maps and a handful of bills.

Know your fringe-right references

During Tuesday’s committee hearing for a bill to provide exemptions for the COVID vaccine or testing mandate for private business, more than a few public members who testified brought up debunked conspiracies or fringe constitutional arguments popular on far-right social media sites.

Let’s break one of them down to help you better understand what can often be baffling to those who are not well-versed in these fringe belief touchstones.

A speaker urged lawmakers to “ensure our duly elected county sheriffs have the proper authority to reject such unconstitutional mandates.”

He referred to the “Constitutional Sheriff” movement, which holds that a sheriff holds the ultimate law enforcement authority within its county, even outranking the federal government. They have the right and authority to defy laws they deem unconstitutional.

The movement is an offshoot of the far-right Posse Comitatus movement of the 1970s and 1980s, which believed, among other things, Jews were responsible for oppressing farmers through exorbitant loans. That movement collapsed in the 1980s.

The current Constitutional Sheriff movement is aligned with the far-right militia movement and appeals to many who hold anti-government views.

One of the most famous adherents to the Constitutional Sherrif movement was Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The current leader of the movement is Richard Mack of Arizona who heads the Constitutional Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association.

In Utah, several sheriffs have vowed to disregard any federal gun laws they believe violate the 2nd Amendment.

Here’s what you need to know for Wednesday morning

🏛 From Utah’s Capitol Hill

  • Lawmakers advanced the proposed congressional and state school board redistricting plans as Gov. Spencer Cox says he won’t veto the maps. The backlash against the redistricting process is growing with a threatened ballot initiative. [Tribune]

  • A public hearing on the Dixie State name change was an emotional affair. Lawmakers will vote this week on whether to change the name to Utah Tech University. [Tribune]

  • Several hundred Utahns showed up to testify on a proposal to provide exemptions from a federal vaccine mandate for private businesses. Many of them went away angry when the committee ran out of time. [Tribune]

  • Lawmakers are taking another crack at reforming the state’s cash-based bail system. [Tribune]

  • A Salt Lake City man protesting the gerrymandered redistricting map from lawmakers ended up getting a short audience with Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson. [Tribune]

  • House Republicans elected new leadership on Tuesday. [Tribune]

Utah news

🏛 Sen. Mitt Romney says Utah will see $3 billion for road construction under the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress. [Tribune]

National news

⚖️ A federal judge ruled against former President Donald Trump’s bid to shield documents from the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” the judge wrote in a blistering opinion. [Politico]

🏛 The January 6 committee issued ten more subpoenas, including former White House aides Stephen Miller and Kayleigh McEnany. [NYT]

🏛 Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill face backlash from other Republicans in Congress and former President Trump. [CNN]

🚨 Thirteen of former President Trump’s senior aides illegally campaigned for his re-election while in office. [NYT]

🤔 Sen. Ted Cruz says Texas might secede from the U.S. if “things become hopeless.” He also suggested podcaster Joe Rogan could become the state’s “president” if that happens. [Insider]

📈 Inflation sped up in October as prices increased faster than expected. [NYT]

💉 The legal battle over the Biden administration’s COVID vaccine or testing mandate intensifies as Republican-led states are pushing back more forcefully. [WaPo]

  • A federal judge ruled United Airlines could implement a COVID vaccine mandate for employees, ruling against workers who sought to block the requirement. [The Hill]

🌎 A draft climate report says the world is on track to warm at least 2.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which would result in catastrophic environmental changes. [CNN]

🗳 New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu stunned Republicans on Tuesday when he announced he would not run for U.S. Senate in 2022. [The Hill]

🗳 TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz is preparing to run for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania as a Republican. [Washington Free Beacon]

➡️ Former U.S. Senator Max Cleland from Georgia died at the age of 79. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

📺 MSNBC host Brian Williams is leaving the network after 28 years. [Variety]

Wednesday’s Utah news roundup


  • ‘Izzy should be here’: Utah friends and family hold emotional vigil for 10-year-old Black girl who died by suicide. [Tribune]

  • Here’s how many digital billboards are coming to Millcreek. The number might surprise you. [Tribune]

  • As Lake Powell shrinks, the Colorado River is coming back to life. [Tribune]

  • New development proposed for Point of the Mountain has some Draper residents upset. [Fox 13]


  • Salt Lake City Council names election winner Victoria Petro-Eschler to fill vacant spot. [Tribune]


  • 54% of Utahns are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. [Tribune]


  • Christmas stamps for Britain’s Royal Mail come from an unlikely source: an LDS convert in Argentina. [Tribune]


  • Opinion: Redistricting should ensure all Utah communities are represented. [Deseret News]

🎂 You say it’s your birthday?!!

Happy birthday to state Sen. Mike McKell.

Got a birthday you’d like us to recognize in this space? Send us an email.

— Tribune reporter Jordan Miller contributed to this report.