D.C. may decriminalize pot. SLC School District blames poor communication for school lunch fiasco. Utah ranks fourth most conservative.
Happy Wednesday. The City Council in the District of Columbia -- yup, Washington, the nation's capital -- is on the brink of decriminalizing marijuana, and the federal government has yet to weigh in on such a move. The city, which Congress can override, is one vote away from taking away criminal sanctions for smoking pot. [HuffPost]
Topping the news: A preliminary report from the Salt Lake City School District leaders said poor communication and a new payment system were factors in the scandal at Uintah Elementary in which 30 to 40 children had their lunches taken away because they had negative balances on their accounts. The report is not meant to be final and the investigation is ongoing. [Trib] [Fox13] [KUTV]
-> Utah is the fourth most conservative state in the United States. [Fox13]
Tweets of the day: From: @SenLyleHillyard: "Too bad we can't move @utahsenate committee meetings to the slopes today. Fresh Utah snow!"
From @RobertGehrke: "I will tell you this much: Rep. Jim Dunnigan sure knows how to make a routine insurance code cleanup bill sexy."
On the Hill: Bills and committees abound, today's schedule [Trib]
-> Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, is proposing changes to Utah's caucus system to make the Count My Vote initiative moot. [Trib]
-> The Senate passed a bill ensuring that officials accused of election misdeeds cannot oversee an investigation against themselves. [Trib]
-> A House committee approved a bill requiring disclosures from people who spend more than $1,000 on campaigns -- outside of donations to candidates and PACs -- within 30 days of the donation. [Trib]
-> There are two competing bills to change the gas tax, and both could end up increasing the amount Utahns pay. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Legislation allowing officials to raise the speed limit to 80 mph on freeways, if they feel it is safe, passed a Senate committee. [Trib]
-> Sen. Stuart Reid says the Legislature and governor should have a say in who the state school superintendent is. [UtahPolicy]
-> The House passed a bill to protect police officers from being held liable for injuries suspects sustain during high-speed chases. [Trib] [DNews] [KUER]
-> Pat Bagley gives his take on the Legislature's knack for when it wants to take on an emotional issue. [Trib]
-> A Senate committee took no action on a bill that would repeal the language in state law that prevents Utah's environmental standards from being stricter than federal regulations. [DNews] [ABC4]
-> A Logan representative is pitching a bill that would restrict mentally ill persons from owning guns. [UtahPolicy]
-> Lawmakers are working to fix a budget shortfall that could prevent rape victims from receiving preventative HIV medicine or having a nurse trained in evidence collecting prepare a rape kit. [Trib]
-> A House committee passed legislation requiring more beer tax money to be spent on alcohol abuse prevention programs. [Trib] [KUTV]
-> After opposition from cities, a House committee declined a vote on legislation requiring local governments to cover the first $1,000 of public records requests primarily in the public interest. [Trib]
-> Legislation allowing teachers and other school employees to intervene and ask students they suspect are thinking about suicide questions passed a House committee. [Trib]
-> A Senate committee advanced a bill allowing school districts to use up to eight school days for teacher development. [Herald] [KUER]
-> The Office of the Legislative Auditor General released a report outlining how school districts could potentially pay for education programs through cutting costs in transportation, energy use and food services. [DNews]
-> A proposal to change the state tree to the Quaking Aspen passed a Senate committee. [Herald]
-> Legislation limiting the use of carbon monoxide to euthanize animals passed a House committee. [DNews] [Fox13]
-> Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, introduced a bill to restrict city, town and county ordinances that target specific breeds of dogs. [DNews]
-> Paul Rolly discusses ugly anonymous messages in the race for House district 57 and other topics. [Trib]
-> See what happened at Arts Day on the Hill. [DNews]
In other news: The farm bill, which passed the Senate Tuesday, includes funds for rural counties to make up for tax revenue lost because of vast federal lands tracts. Sen. Orrin Hatch voted for the bill and Sen. Mike Lee voted against it. [Trib] [SGNews]
-> Rep. Rob Bishop is among 13 lawmakers pushing for changes to the Endangered Species Act. [APviaDNews]
-> A proposed oil pipeline would replace 250 truck trips a day between the Uintah Basin and Salt Lake area refineries. [Trib]
-> Utah officials approved a $5.3 million settlement with Chevron Pipeline Company for the diesel fuel spill in Willard Bay last year. [Trib]
-> A natural gas production company agreed to shut down a Uintah Basin well and restore 2.3 acres of wetland damaged by the well. [Trib]
-> The Salt Lake City Council created new standards and an oversight committee for horse-drawn carriages. A proposal to ban the carriages failed. [Trib]
-> Salt Lake County is considering restricting where reiki spiritual healers can practice and requiring them to get a $1,300 permit in order to make it more difficult for prostitutes to masquerade as healers. [Trib]
Nationally: The Congressional Budget Office said the Affordable Care Act will cause two million Americans who depend on their jobs for health coverage to quit or see their hours cut because of new health benefits offered by the law. [WaPost]
-> The Senate passed the long-awaited farm bill. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it shortly. [WaPost]
-> Rep. Robert Andrews, who after 23 years in Congress never had a bill become law, announced he will resign his seat in two weeks in order to take a job at a law firm. [WaPost]
Where are they?
- Rep. Jason Chaffetz attends the funeral services for fallen Utah County Sheriff Deputy Sgt. Cory Wride.
- Rep. Chris Stewart meets with the Utah Council of Insurance Agents and Building Owners and Managers Association International, hits the Republican Study Conference meeting, and later sits down with the Washington County Youth Coalition and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
- Gov. Gary Herbert meets with Democratic leaders, is interviewed on Comcast Capitol Journal, meets with Utah Technology Council President Rich Nelson, his chief of staff, Derek Miller, interviews 5th District Court judicial nominees, films a PSA and meets with Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and House Speaker Becky Lockhart.
- Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox meets with legislative leaders.
- SL Co. Mayor Ben McAdams speaks at the kickoff of the annual And Justice for All campaign, hits the Prison Relocation and Development Authority meeting and the Mountain Accord public meeting.
- SLC Mayor Ralph Becker heads to meetings on the budget and the New Performing Arts Center and later holds community conversations.
- President Barack Obama meets with senators at the Senate Democratic Issues Conference, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry.
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-- Thomas Burr and Topher Webb
Twitter.com/thomaswburr and Twitter.com/topherjwebb