GOP meets regularly to upend Obamacare. Herbert: Cut NSA some slack. Residents to get 99 choices, but the costs will vary.
Happy Friday. A group of Republican members of Congress meet weekly to figure out how to halt any funding for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and the sessions are led be Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, according to a Texas congressman, who told an audience about the strategy sessions. Lee's spokesman says the senator doesn't attend regular meetings about the subject but Obamacare is a serious concern. [HuffPost]
Topping the news: Gov. Gary Herbert will not make a decision about whether to expand Medicaid in Utah to cover more of the uninsured until 2014. He is waiting to make the decision in conjunction with the Legislature. [Trib]
-> Also, the governor doesn't think we should be so hard on the NSA for monitoring SLC's emails and text messages during the 2002 Winter Olympics, given that it was a major public event just five months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. [Trib] [DNews]
-> The new insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act will offer Utahns at least 99 plan choices, says the state insurance department. Costs will vary across the state. [Trib]
Tweet of the day: From @cboyack: "Ahem, @OrrinHatch's website needs updating. #utpol pic.twitter.com/Mi3p3kSvk5"
In other news: A handful of government agencies in Texas are claiming their budget troubles have been caused by unpaid taxes from the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch. The ranch, in Schleicher County, lost its tax-exempt status when its owners failed to file the right paperwork. [Trib]
-> The UTA's five highest-compensated employees bagged a combined $1.6 million in salary and benefits in 2012. Former CEO John Inglish topped the list with a grand total of almost $366,000 in salary, benefits and bonuses. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley gives his take on the GOP's attitude toward Obamacare. [Trib]
-> The Utah Legislature's Economic Development Task Force is trying to find the perfect balance between a tax hike to fund new transportation projects, which in turn should spark economic growth, and maintaining an attractive low-tax environment to attract businesses. [Trib] [DNews]
-> Lawmakers are facing increasing pressure from state administrators, business leaders and local governments to increase taxes for roads and mass transit or face dire consequences. [Trib]
-> The BLM's proposed regulations of hydraulic fracking aren't going down well with anyone in Utah. The state's environmental watchdogs, conservative politicians and independent oil and gas producers all have different reasons for disliking the plan. [DNews]
-> Gov. Herbert is concerned Sen. Mike Lee's push to defund Obamacare or shut down federal government could end up doing more harm than good to the GOP. [DNews]
Nationally: According to a statement on Friday, Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has identified as female since childhood and wishes to be known now as Chelsea. [WaPost] [NYTimes] [ABCNews]
-> In the first of his speeches on making college more affordable, President Barack Obama announced he is seeking widespread changes in the way students receive federal financial aid, offering more support for those at schools judged to be "good value." He proposed a federal rating system to help students compare colleges and suggested increased taxpayer funding for schools that keep tuition down and results up. [NYTimes] [WaPost] [Politico]
-> The Justice Department is suing Texas over its new voter ID law setting strict requirements for the types of government-issued ID voters must bring to polling stations on the grounds that it discriminates against minority voters. [WaPost] [NYTimes] [Politico]
-> The stalemate between the White House and Senate Republicans over a deficit deal appears to be no closer to resolution. No action could lead to a government shutdown come Oct. 1. [NYTimes]
-> Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has condemned North Carolina's recent voting law, which he says turns a voting block away from potentially voting for the Republican party. [Politico]
-> Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, says the idea that he wants to shutdown the government is a "false narrative based on an absolute lie." He has never called for a shutdown, he says, and in fact that is what he seeks to avoid. [Politico]
Where are they?
Gov. Gary Herbert attends a state school board deliberation, films a public service announcement, joins a transportation regulatory discussion and records a tourism spot.
President Barack Obama attends a town hall in Binghampton, NY and joins VP Joe Biden to speak on making college more affordable at Lackawanna College in Scranton, PA before returning to Washington, D.C..
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Thomas Burr and Isobel MarkhamTwitter.com/thomaswburr and Twitter.com/i_markham