National Emoji Day 😀 😍 🤪; $25,000 treasure hunt solved; Trail Mix w Amy Harmer; Vivek Ramaswamy names Mike Lee as potential SCOTUS pick
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The Utah Policy newsletter is your one-stop source for political and policy-minded news. We scour the news so you don't have to! Send news tips or feedback to Holly Richardson at


Situational Analysis | July 17, 2023

It's Monday and World Emoji Day. 🌍 👏🏼 🎉 ❤️ 🥳 🫶🏼 

What You Need to Know

  • Governor Cox is now the chair of the National Governor's Association. For his one-year term, he will be focusing on helping people to "Disagree Better." Politico covered his inaugural speech: "After more than a century of bringing together the nation’s governors, the NGA — long a wellspring of ideas, forum for best practices and platform for innovating policymaking — is at grave risk of falling victim to the silos plaguing most every other element of American politics. That’s the bad news. The good news is if any governor can reverse or at least slow this trend, it’s Cox."

Rapid Relevance

Trail Mix with Amy Dott Harmer

From working in her parent's store in Crossroads Mall, to becoming a teacher to social media guru to running a nonprofit, Amy's path (like many) has been non linear. In her current role, she has found that all of her various experiences come together in useful and important ways. She has great advice for students - and for those who are returning to the work force after some time away. 


Screenshot 2023-07-17 at 5.30.32 AM


Utah’s Water is Scarce – How You Can Save It

Population growth impacts, like increasing water demand, worry many Utahns. Leaders welcome input on solutions. Take the survey and be heard.


Utah Headlines

Political news

  • Inside Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s VERY big week (Deseret News)
  • Can we disagree better? Utah’s governor wants to give it a shot and it starts today (Deseret News)
  • Jay Evensen: When will the IRS fill in our tax returns for us? A new pilot program will let people file taxes for free directly with the IRS. The next step may be pre-filled 1040s (Deseret News)
  • Here's what the Legislature is doing — and not doing — to care for Utah caregivers (KSL)

General Utah news

  • From Orem to Oxford: Utah County’s unlikely connections to England’s oldest university (Deseret News)
  • Search and rescue teams make multiple July rescues in Utah mountains (KSL)
  • Layton police officer arrested after stalking ex-girlfriend, causing ‘extreme emotional distress,’ authorities say (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Record heat leads to major road buckling at Salt Lake City intersection (KUTV)


  • This Utah company wants to change the way people work from home (KSL)
  • Teen treatment facility Diamond Ranch Academy closing after Utah denies license renewal (KSL)


  • Perspective: Will we ever stop fighting over COVID-19? The state of emergency is over, but across America, anger and estrangement is alive and well. How can we move on? (Deseret News)
  • Perspective: Contempt culture is metastasizing in America. Blessed are the peacemakers (Deseret News)
  • To disagree in good faith. A constitutional scholar reminds us to consider other points of view (Deseret News)
  • Utah nonprofit Jump the Moon propels artists with disabilities forward with adaptive technology (KSL)


  • Why parents need to know what ‘a back-to-school necklace’ means (Deseret News)
  • Deborah Gatrell: Here’s the conversation we should be having about student safety (Salt Lake Tribune)


  • It was a record winter for water; now let’s see if we can hang onto it (Deseret News)
  • The summer heat is on and so is Utah’s harmful algae season (Deseret News)
  • Derek Miller and Kim Frost: Leaders should ask whether a policy helps alleviate our air pollution. Or not. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Great Salt Lake Summit emphasizes one snow-heavy winter won’t be enough. Activists and experts from across the state gathered Saturday to discuss problems facing the Great Salt Lake after a historic winter. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Daily temperature record shattered in Salt Lake City (Fox13)
  • How a future with less frequent, more intense rain could change Utah’s plant landscape (KUER)


  • Lost twins: One woman’s journey to hug 1,000 ‘twinless’ twins (Deseret News)
  • Perspective: How parenting changes your definition of happiness (Deseret News)
  • When fear drives parenting, what happens to the kids? (Deseret News)
  • Child trauma survivors continue healing journey during special summer camp (Fox13)


  • Tomatoes instead of bread? A deeper look at the keto diet (Deseret News)
  • The obesity epidemic in America: Costly in food and lives (Deseret News)
  • Utah researchers learning more about cancer rates in Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations (KSL)


  • Apartment hunting in northern Utah is getting easier, but still harder than in other Western cities (Salt Lake Tribune)

National Headlines


  • The winds of change. The Middle East is in the midst of a generational sea change. Could that mean more freedom and religious tolerance? (Deseret News)
  • How America’s push for the atomic bomb spawned enduring radioactive waste problems in St. Louis (AP)


  • GOP attorneys general shift the battle over affirmative action to the workplace (AP)
  • Former Trump donors are opening wallets for DeSantis, GOP rivals (Wall Street Journal)
  • Trump praises judge overseeing his classified documents case, saying she ‘loves our country’ (The Hill)
  • GOP senators rattled by radical conservative populism (The Hill)
  • NDAA splits House over abortion, DEI and LGBTQ healthcare (Politico)

Ukraine 🇺🇦

  • Russia has halted a wartime deal allowing Ukraine to ship grain. It’s a blow to global food security (AP)
  • Flying Russian flags, more Wagner troops roll into Belarus as part of deal that ended their mutiny (AP)
  • She saved the diary of a Ukrainian writer killed by Russia. Then she was killed, too (NPR)
  • Kyiv strike disables bridge between Crimea and Russia (Wall Street Journal)


  • South Korea’s death toll from destructive rainstorm grows to 40 as workers search for survivors (AP)
  • UN says the Taliban have further increased restrictions on Afghan women and girls (AP)
  • Global hunger enters a grim ‘new normal’ (Washington Post)

Number of the Day 

Number of the Day, July 17, 2023


News Releases

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox elected chair of National Governors Association, launches ‘Disagree Better’ Initiative

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox was elected chair of the National Governors Association (NGA). For the next year, he will be the voice of the leaders of 55 states, territories, and commonwealths dedicated to leading bipartisan solutions.

Gov. Cox announced his Chair’s Initiative, Disagree Better: Healthy Conflict for Better Policy, at the closing session of the meeting. The initiative is designed to help Americans bridge the partisan divide and adopt a more positive approach to political and social discourse. Through public debates, service projects, public service announcements and a variety of other tools, governors are joining forces for the Disagree Better initiative. (Read More)

Utah’s economy showing resilience with record labor participation and broad industry growth

The Salt Lake Chamber, in partnership with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, has released the June Roadmap to Prosperity Economic Dashboard. “After several bank failures amid growing national economic uncertainties last quarter, Utah’s economy fared better than expected,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “With political risk fading after the debt ceiling deal, the Utah economy continues to show resilience despite talk of a national recession. Utah’s all-time labor force participation and near total positive territory for sector growth show our state economy is robust and growing. While concerns of rate hikes will persist through summer, consumer confidence and job growth continue to prove the adage not to bet against America, and certainly not against Utah.” (Read More)

Romney, colleagues reintroduce bipartisan legislation to support 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games

U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) reintroduced the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games Commemorative Coin Act, legislation to support and commemorate the 2028 Games set to take place in Los Angeles, California exactly five years from today. This bipartisan legislation would direct the Treasury Department to mint and issue four types of coins in commemoration of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The coins would be minted at no cost to the federal government, and any proceeds collected from the sale of these commemorative coins would aid in the execution of the 2028 Games and support its legacy programs, including the promotion of youth sports in the United States. (Read More)

Foreign Relations Committee advances Romney measure to improve passport services

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to advance provisions secured by U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) to improve passport services during a business meeting to consider the Department of State Authorization Act of 2023—continuing his longstanding efforts to bring a passport agency to Salt Lake City and improve Utahns’ access to consular services. (Read More)

Curtis on House passage of 2024 NDAA

"This year’s NDAA is a strong investment to deter foreign aggression that could impact the United States’ security and economic interests. It reverses concerning cuts proposed in the Administration’s budget that would leave us ill-prepared to deter China and Russia. Of particular interest to Utah, our military tells us this is a critical moment for Taiwan, a vital trading partner for the United States which supplies many of the semiconductors that power our economy, and this bill helps ensure that relationship remains possible. It also cuts spending programs that aren’t showing tangible results and initiatives the military just shouldn’t be involved in like DEI, CRT, or abortion services." (Read More)  

Owens on House passage of 2024 NDAA

"From Beijing to Moscow, America’s enemies have seen Democrats in Washington prioritize wokeness and weakness over patriotism and strength. The Biden defense budget funneled taxpayer dollars into DEI initiatives, abortions, CRT, and drag shows, failing to meet this critical moment as our adversaries tirelessly endeavor to destabilize the rules based international order. The Department of Defense must maintain focus on providing our brave servicemen and women the tools, resources, and leadership needed to keep America safe, prosperous, and free. House Republicans made a commitment to provide for our national defense and end the erosion of American military prowess from divisive progressive policies. The FY24 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) delivers on that promise by providing critical investments in defense modernization, aggressive oversight on Ukraine aid, the largest military pay increase in 20 years, and countering the aggression of our adversaries – all while saving Americans billions of dollars.” (Read More)

Moore on House passage of the 2024 NDAA

"Today I was honored to vote for the National Defense Authorization Act, a robust and comprehensive bill that will promote innovation, strengthen our readiness and capabilities, provide for military families, counter the Chinese Communist Party, and ensure that the Department of Defense can focus on honing its core competencies and competitive advantages. This legislation is a great win for Hill Air Force Base (HAFB).“ (Read More)


Tweet of the Day

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  • Legislative School Security Task Force — July 17, 2:00 pm,
  • Legislative Court Reform Task Force — July 19, 1:00 pm,
  • One-day civil rights symposium for high school juniors and seniors — July 21, Mount Liberty College, Register here
  • Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee — July 27, 11:00 am.
  • Interim Days — Aug 7-10,
  • Municipal election filing period for cities using ranked choice voting — Aug. 8-15
  • 'Titan of Public Service' gala recognizing Senator Mitch McConnell and former Transportation and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, hosted by the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation — Aug. 22, 7 p.m., Register here
  • Legislative Education and Mental Health Coordinating Council — Aug 23,
  • Municipal/Special election primary — Sept. 5
  • Interim Day — Sept. 18, Utah Tech University,
  • Interim Day — Oct 10-11,
  • Interim Day — Nov 14-15,
  • General election — Nov. 21

On This Day In History 

  • 1762 - Catherine II becomes Tsarina of Russia following the murder of Peter III. She will later be known as Catherine the Great.
  • 1790 - Adam Smith, Scottish economist (Wealth of Nations) and moral philosopher, dies at 67
  • 1867 - The first US dental school, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, established
  • 1887 - Dorothea Dix, American pioneering nurse and social activist who created the first American mental asylums, dies at 85
  • 1902 - Engineer and inventor, Willis Carrier designs the first modern air conditioner. It should be a national holiday.
  • 1948 -  US Air Force pilot Gail Halvorsen encounters children at Templehof Airport in Berlin during the Berlin Blockade, giving him the idea to drop candy in 'Operation Little Vittles'
  • 1955 - Disneyland opens.
  • 2009 - Walter Cronkite, American broadcast journalist and news anchor (CBS Evening News 1962-81), dies at 92
  • 2020 - Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis dies of pancreatic cancer at age 80.

Quote of the Day

"It's a shame and a disgrace that so few people take part in the political process...The vote controls everything you do."
—John Lewis

On the Punny Side

When I was a little girl, I had a disease that required me to eat dirt three times a day in order to survive.

It's a good thing my older brother told me about it.


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