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Tax reform means reducing taxes. Tax reform means reducing income to government programs. What will be the unintended consequences that this decreased revenue have on the federal and state budgets? What money will be left to “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare”? There is a case for revisiting taxation but not for reducing revenue. Taxation should be consistent with the idea of a free society.

Alden H. Laney, Millcreek

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Sen. Orrin Hatch keeps calling my house. I don’t know why. He knows I’m not a Republican. Also, I keep hanging up on him.

I like Hatch on a personal level, but our political differences are significant. I believe that all legislative decisions should be decided by pay-per-view congressional hammer fights. He doesn’t. But we still get along.

A couple of years ago, my mom was in St. Mark’s Hospital for surgery. The entire family showed up to get the news. We milled around in the waiting room. It was late enough that it was just us Kirbys.

Then the elevator dinged, the doors opened, and out walked Hatch. No bodyguards, entourage or pesky media types. Just him there to visit his wife, who was also in the hospital.

We spotted each other and went over to shake hands.

Him • “Robert, how’s your mom doing?”

Me • “We’re waiting to hear. How’s Elaine?”

My father had followed me over. I introduced him to the senator. Apparently it didn’t take, because the Old Man squinted suspiciously at Hatch and wanted to know why he looked so familiar.

Hatch • “I’m Senator Orrin Hatch.”

My father • “No, that’s not it.”

The Old Man is two years older than Hatch, but he’s been long retired. For good reason. He can’t drive anymore, struggles with the names of his relatives, and follows Mom around until she’s outside of her mind.

But he’s still mobile. If they ever let the Old Man out of the senior living center where we currently have him stashed, I’d end up driving to Denver or Phoenix to fetch him back.

I told you that to tell you this: My father decided for himself when it was time to retire. He’s been retired for at least 25 years, and hasn’t done anything more mentally or physically taxing than a few church missions since then.

(Scott Sommerdorf   |  The Salt Lake Tribune)   
Senator Orrin Hatch visits with a crowd of Trump admirers after he arrived in Salt Lake City, Monday, December 4, 2017.

Some people want Hatch, 83, to retire, insisting he’s too old to do his job in the U.S. Senate. He might be, but he keeps getting re-elected, which is how this country works.

Not agreeing with Hatch’s politics is not sufficient reason, in and of itself, to call for his age-related retirement. Apparently, he’s still sharp enough to get around and know where he’s going.

I’d be rather annoyed if people tried to get me to retire simply because they thought I was too old. That decision is up to my wife, and the last thing she wants is me hanging around with not enough to do. Come to think of it, that should probably concern you as well.

Hatch and I still have our jobs because nobody has fired us yet. People holler that we should be forced out to pasture, but it hasn’t happened.

It will eventually. Nobody lives forever. Hatch might die in office. He might get too sick to continue. But as long as he is aware of what’s going on — whether we agree with him or not — he’s entitled to avoid retirement.

I don’t have to worry about that. I have one of the few jobs in this country in which mental stability is more of a liability. Hell, I’ll never have to retire.

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Washington • Republicans finalized the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax laws in three decades Friday, sweetening the child tax credit to placate a reluctant GOP senator as they pushed to muscle the bill through Congress next week and give President Donald Trump his first major legislative victory.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had been holding out for a bigger child tax credit for low-income families. After he got it, Rubio tweeted that the change is “a solid step toward broader reforms which are both Pro-Growth and Pro-Worker.”

Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said that meant he’d vote yes. Rubio’s support provided a major boost for Senate Republicans who are trying to hold together a razor-thin majority to pass the bill.

“I’m confident we’ll have the votes,” said Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, one of the Republican negotiators on the bill.

Portman cast the bill as providing “the kind of middle-class tax relief that’s desperately needed right now. People are looking at flat wages and higher expenses, and this will help.”

Members of a House-Senate conference committee signed the final version of the legislation Friday, sending it to the House and Senate for final passage. They have been working to blend different versions passed by the two houses.

The tax package would double the basic per-child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000. The bill makes a smaller amount available to families even if they owe no income tax. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said Friday that that amount had been increased to $1,400.

Rubio had said he wanted the earlier $1,100 figure increased.

Low-income taxpayers would receive the money in the form of a tax refund, which is why it’s called a “refundable” tax credit.

Senate Republicans passed their original tax bill by a vote of 51-49 — with Rubio’s support. If they lost Rubio, they would have been one more defection away from defeat

Rubio’s support came after a key faction of House Republicans came out in favor of the bill, increasing its chances. Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus predicted the vast majority of their members would support the package.

House and Senate Republican leaders on Wednesday forged an agreement in principle on the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax laws in more than 30 years. The package would give generous tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans — Trump among them — and more modest tax cuts to low- and middle-income families.

“I’m confident that at the end of the day, the Senate will approve this conference committee report because no one should be defending the status quo in this horrible tax code Americans have had to live with for too long,” said Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, a top House negotiator.

The tax legislation would cut the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.

The package would nearly double the standard deduction, to $24,000 for married couples. But it would scale back the deduction for state and local taxes, allowing families to deduct only up to a total of $10,000 in property and income taxes. The deduction is especially important to residents of high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California.

The final package slashes the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, a big win for corporate America.

Business owners who report business income on their personal tax returns would be able to deduct 20 percent of that income.

The agreement also calls for repealing the mandate under the “Obamacare” health law that requires most Americans to get health insurance, a step toward the ultimate GOP goal of unraveling the law.

The business tax cuts would be permanent, but reductions for individuals would expire in 2026 — saving money to comply with Senate budget rules. In all, the bill would cut taxes by about $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, adding billions to the nation’s mounting debt.

Rubio’s opposition had come at a bad time for Senate Republicans, with two of them missing votes this week because of illness.

John McCain of Arizona, who is 81, is at a Washington-area military hospital being treated for the side effects of brain cancer treatment, and 80-year-old Thad Cochran of Mississippi had a non-melanoma lesion removed from his nose earlier this week. GOP leaders are hopeful they will be available next week.


Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Kevin Freking, Matthew Daly and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

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Just a reminder as you spend time this holiday season with your family shopping or checking out the lights downtown, if you do decide to grab a bite to eat or get a cup of hot chocolate, please remember to tip your server.

The person serving you is making $2.25/hour and relies on tips to make a living. I’ve heard from servers stories that make me cringe. Here’s one for you: A group of 25 people come into the restaurant for breakfast, receive great service, their bill is around $400 and they leave a tip of $1.

Tips generally range form 10-20 percent, meaning this tip was 0.25 percent. Please be accountable for your holiday cheer by making sure you take care of those who take care of you.

Marsha Leen-Mitchell


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I have listened to hundreds of podcast episodes this year but the one I just listened to with astronaut Jerry Linenger is one of the best I have ever heard. I was completely captivated listening to author and business guru Donald Miller interview Linengar.

Linengar’s bio is mind-boggling: Naval Academy grad, M.D. and Navy surgeon, Ph.D. in epidemiology and master’s degrees in systems development and public health. He is also a Navy fighter pilot, a SCUBA diver, triathlete and NASA astronaut who spent five months orbiting the earth in a Russian space station, conducting over 120 experiments and taking over 10,000 photos of earth.

There were lots of golden nuggets in his interview.

Aim high and work hard.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” From the age of 14, Linenger knew he wanted to be an astronaut. When he told his dad, a blue collar telephone truck driver in Michigan, his dad said: “Work hard, study hard. This is America. You can do whatever you set your mind to.” From that time on, he was laser-focused on maximizing his chances of achieving his goal. Linenger went to the Naval Academy because more astronauts were coming through the Naval Academy than any other school. He earned multiple degrees. He became a SCUBA diver, because dives can simulate space walks. He didn’t sit on his behind dreaming of the day he would be in space - he worked to make it happen.

You don’t control the outcome.

Imagine 35,000 qualified people applying for 10 spots. Your chance of being selected is 0.0003 percent. Linenger did everything he could to position himself well for astronaut selection but then, he had to trust the process. When fire broke out on the space station, he did not know what the outcome would be. He worked hard to make it a positive one and he succeeded - but he might not have.

Know what’s worth dying for.

Live fully. Die with no regrets. Linenger has a mantra: “What I’m about to do is worth my life.” NASA is a risk-reduction machine, he said, but the risk does not drop to zero. Knowing that you are playing full out and that when you die, you die knowing you did everything you could to make life better for people around you brings peace of mind. Don’t waste your life wondering “what if?”

Don’t lose your cool.

There is no bad situation that panicking can’t make worse. During his five months on the Russian space station, he and his two crew mates experienced a malfunction in the heating/cooling system, keeping the temperature at 90 degrees, a filter malfunctioned, causing carbon monoxide to begin to build up, a computer failure that sent the space station tumbling through space and communication malfunctions with Moscow. You don’t need to be in space to experience days/weeks/months/years where things go wrong. Keeping your cool may not fix the bad situation but at least it won’t make it worse.

Everybody needs validation.

One of the most striking lessons Leninger taught on this podcast is how universal the need for approval is. No matter how many accomplishments someone might have under their belt, or how much of a beginner they are, they still need to know they are doing a good job. Leninger said the most surprising lesson he learned in space was just how much he craved that approval. Getting a message that researchers in the Czech Republic loved the experiment he was working on really lifted his spirits. “Those words of encouragement do matter to everyone,” he says. We all have people around us who need those words of encouragement and validation - and we need them ourselves.

Keep perspective.

Linenger faced mechanical malfunctions, systems failures and the most serious fire ever in an orbiting spacecraft. He’s launched fighter jets off the back of an aircraft carrier in stormy weather and dealt with triple gunshot victims coming into Detroit Receiving Hospital. It makes taking a risk on a business venture far less intimidating. Neither you nor anyone else is likely to die if your investment in frozen foods doesn’t pan out. Losing a political race pales in comparison to burying a child. Will it matter five years from now? If not, don’t stress out over it.

Holly Richardson has no plans to go to space, or even to scuba dive. She would, however, like to get better at not losing her cool at drivers on I-15 and at validating the people in her life. Even when they burn the cookies.

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Between the early June departure of its popular afternoon drivetime host and the subsequent resignation of the station’s general manager, KRCL 90.9 FM got a sizable dose of drama in 2017.

So it’s perhaps not altogether surprising that the public radio station’s recent nationwide search to fill its leadership void culminated in the hiring of a familiar face.

Tristin Tabish — announced Friday morning as KRCL’s next GM — hasn’t worked there in two decades, but as far as some employees are concerned, she’s been there in spirit, if not in body, that whole time.

“I started at KRCL when I was just a teenager back in 1992, and the first day I came in, for my initial interview, nervous beyond belief, the first person to greet me at the door was Tristin. And she just had a way of putting me at ease,” said Ebay Hamilton, the station’s program director and on-air host of its “Afternoon Drive with Ebay” program since August. “She’s always been a huge part of the KRCL family.”

Tabish began her public radio career in KRCL’s membership department in 1991 and hosted two programs on the station. She has been working for KUER, the University of Utah’s NPR radio station, for the past 20 years in various capacities, including as content director since 2011 (which she will continue to be until mid-January). She’s also taught writing and public relations courses for the U.’s Department of Communication the past 10 years.

But she conceded that even as she dedicated herself fully to those jobs, she couldn’t help but keep an eye — or an ear, more specifically — directed toward her original employer.

“I’ve been with KUER for 20 years, and … I turned into an NPR news nerd, but I’ve always had this attraction to KRCL and to its music. KRCL’s music has been a reprieve from the news and the negativity going on these days, and it’s been a real source of joy,” Tabish said. “When this opportunity arose, I knew that if I didn’t at least apply, I would regret it. So I was beyond thrilled to actually get the job.”

Chip Luman, the chairman of KRCL’s board of directors, said the fact that Tabish was a known quantity with a proven track record certainly didn’t hurt.

“Our goal was to try to get somebody local. We had some national candidates, but it was really imperative to us to get someone who knows the community,” he said. “The experience she gained at KUER, with programming and content, we really feel she’s going to take the station in a good direction.”

(Photo courtesy of Austen Diamond Photography) Even as she was working at KUER for the past 20 years and turning into “an NPR news nerd,” Tristin Tabish acknowledged that the pull of KRCL’s combination of both community affairs and music was strong: “I’ve always had this attraction to KRCL and to its music. KRCL’s music has been a reprieve from the news and the negativity going on these days, and it’s been a real source of joy.”

Considering all that was transpiring half a year ago, it’s a wonder she did not inherit a mess.

“Bad” Brad Wheeler, host of the popular “Little Bit Louder Now” show, stunned listeners with a June 2 on-air announcement that he was leaving the station. KRCL’s then-GM, Vicki Mann, said she was as “in shock” as anyone, but Stephen Holbrook, one of KRCL’s founders and then a nonvoting “board member emeritus,” insinuated in an email sent out to KRCL’s board and media members that Mann’s approach was to blame.

“She has programmed weekdays to a semi-commercial sound with an overreliance on automation, which turns our on-air personalities into broadcast bureaucrats,” Holbrook wrote. Mann resigned in July.

What could have easily become a trainwreck situation didn’t go that way, though.

Luman credited the entire staff with “stepping up,” praising volunteers for filling in where needed, board members for handling some of the nuts-and-bolts minutiae, and the weekday show hosts — John Florence, Eugenie Hero Jaffe and Hamilton — for taking on bigger roles and providing a steadying influence.

Tabish said it was apparent to her, even as an outsider, that everyone on the staff pulled together.

“It’s been about six months since Brad and Vicki left. And in that time, I’ve watched the staff carry the station. They’ve been at every event. At any time, they could have held their hands up and said, ‘We don’t have the resources or the bandwidth to do this work. We’re too short-staffed.’ But they’re so dedicated to the mission and the notion of keeping KRCL alive,” she said. “They banded together as a team and kept it going. I’m stepping into a staff that’s embraced change and an opportunity to move ahead.”

Those efforts have yielded some intriguing results.

Chris Yoakam, KRCL’s board treasurer, pointed out that, per the 2016 Form 990, Schedule A, 100 percent of KRCL’s budget was publicly derived, be it through memberships, fundraisers or one-off donations.

Luman also noted that the station is running about a $200,000 surplus this year, which will enable KRCL to make some “capital improvements.” Acquiring a backup generator and boosting the station’s signal strength are potential options, but the unquestioned top line item on the to-do list was installing a new heating system.

“The heater works, but it’s too small for the building — don’t tell everyone that we were freezing the employees to death!” Luman said with a laugh.

Still, it’s the less-tangible upgrades that Tabish will be expected to deliver.

“I’ve watched the staff carry the station. They’ve been at every event. At any time, they could have held their hands up and said, ‘We don’t have the resources or the bandwidth to do this work. We’re too short-staffed.’ But they’re so dedicated to the mission and the notion of keeping KRCL alive. They banded together as a team and kept it going. I’m stepping into a staff that’s embraced change and an opportunity to move ahead.”<br>— Tristin Tabish, new KRCL general manager

She’s been credited with helping to expand KUER’s newsgathering operation and bolstering its membership. While she said “I’m not going in with a set agenda,” she does figure some similar tasks will naturally be in order once she segues over.

“I really want to see KRCL grow. That’s been a source of pride at KUER. So I want to take what I’ve learned here and implement it there. I want to grow membership and grow the audience,” Tabish said. “Technology is always changing, and we need to embrace that. Everyone’s on their smartphones these days. KRCL will always have a spot on the FM radio dial, but I intend for us to connect with younger audiences. That might include podcasts. Also, I don’t know if people know we have an app, so we need to make them aware.

“I do have high hopes and have faith that this community will support KRCL,” she added.

Some of her employees figure that can’t help but happen with Tabish leading the way.

“She just has got energy and is a really inspirational person,” Hamilton said. “I think everyone [on staff] who didn’t know Tristin certainly maybe felt uncomfortable at first, but after meeting her, everyone was just really excited — knowing her history, that she understood the station and she understands radio. … It’s a big relief for a staff that have been without a general manager since July.”

Jaffe, who has maintained a friendly relationship with Tabish over the years and credits her with providing helpful advice even when they were on opposite sides, agreed with that sentiment.

“It’s such a good move for KRCL,” Jaffe said. “We’re such a big part of the community, and having one of our own come back as general manager is so positive for us. … It’s such a right fit for us. We’re psyched.”

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(Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  The Rum Chata gift set at the Utah State Liquor Store in West Valley City.(Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  The Blackheart rum gift set at the Utah State Liquor Store in West Valley City.(Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Smirnoff Peppermint twist vodka with a scratch and sniff candy-cane wrapper at the Utah State Liquor Store in West Valley City.(Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  The Goslings gift set at the Utah State Liquor Store in West Valley City.(Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  The Sailor Jerry rum with oil can cups gift set at the Utah State Liquor Store in West Valley City.(Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  The Kahlua gift set at the Utah State Liquor Store in West Valley City.(Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  The Jagermeister with a photo lens gift set at the Utah State Liquor Store in West Valley City.

West Valley City • Why give a bottle of spiced rum for Christmas when, for the same price, you could give a spectacular two-for-one package that includes rum AND a tray that makes sexy pirate ice cubes?

And wouldn’t someone who takes thousands of photos on their cellphone be thrilled to receive a give pack that includes a bottle of Jägermeister and a miniature smartphone camera lens?

The holiday gift sets found at Utah’s state-owned liquor stores are filled with all sorts of bonus items, from shot glasses and coffee mugs to coasters, flasks and other unique drinking doodads.

There’s nothing new about these “value added packages.” Nationally, liquor producers like to offer the sets during the holidays to encourage consumers to buy a product they may not have tried, or to give loyal customers a little something extra for the holidays.

In Utah, the twofers are generally available for the same price as a regular stand-alone bottle, making them especially popular with consumers who often grumble the rest of the year about the state’s 88 percent mark-up on liquor.

Store managers say the gift packs “are flying off the shelves,” said Terry Wood, the spokesman for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Wood said large liquor suppliers determine the number of gift packs available to Utah based on sales. And with wine, beer and spirit purchases in the state increasing annually, “our allocation is up this year,” he said. “We purchased whatever is available to us.”

(Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  The Jagermeister with a photo lens gift set at the Utah State Liquor Store in West Valley City.

There are more than five dozen gift packs this year. In some instances, the state only received a few cases of each gift item; in other cases — like the $23.99 Jägermeister/cellphone camera pack — they received thousands. Almost all the kits involve spirits and liquor, not wine or beer.

On Thursday, there was a generous selection of gift packs at the West Valley liquor store at 3381 S. Redwood Road. The boxes don’t fit on the standard DABC liquor shelves, so consumers need to look high on the top shelves or in special end-of-aisle displays.

Amanda Sagez, who works near the West Valley store, was drawn to the gift sets for the competitive price. Sagez said she had purchased a box set on a previous visit that included a bottle of the rum and two retro-looking oil can glasses. “Initially, I bought it as a gift,” she said, “but it’s too cute so I’m keeping it for myself.”

During a return visit on Thursday, she bought the rum pack with ice molds.

While most gift sets aren’t that unusual, there are a few unique offerings for the hard-to-buy person your list.

(Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  The Goslings gift set at the Utah State Liquor Store in West Valley City.

For those who always forget the mixers, there’s a kit that contains the basics for a “Dark ’n Stormy” cocktail, including rum and two cans of ginger beer. It costs $17.95.

For that relative who prefers extra fuel in his cup of coffee, there’s the Kahlua kit with a kitschy travel mug that reads: “There Is a Chance This Is Not Just Coffee.” It sells for $19.99.

For the sophisticate, Courvosier is selling its cognac in a royal purple and gold box with an elegant glass decanter for $41.99.

The RumChata gift set is amusing, as it contains a bottle of Mexican horchata liqueur and two “divided” shot glasses that the owner can use to make her own “shot-a-chata.”

Finally, while it’s not a gift set, someone will surely be amused by the red-and-white bottle of Smirnoff Peppermint Twist with a “scratch-n-sniff” label that smells like a candy cane. It sells for $15.99.

If you miss out on one of these gift kits during the holidays, don’t despair. Wood said the DABC may bring in more for the Valentine’s and Father’s Day holidays in 2018.

(Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  Smirnoff Peppermint twist vodka with a scratch-and-sniff candy-cane wrapper at the Utah State Liquor Store in West Valley City.
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BYU football coach Kalani Sitake’s rebuilding of his offensive coaching staff officially began Thursday morning with the announcement from the school that the Cougars have hired LSU offensive line coach and running game coordinator Jeff Grimes as their new offensive coordinator.

Grimes, who was BYU’s offensive line coach from 2004 to 2006, replaces Ty Detmer, BYU’s offensive coordinator in Sitake’s first two seasons.

“Jeff has great leadership ability and outstanding experience mentoring young men at the highest levels of college football,” Sitake said in a release. “He has vast experience working with exceptional coaches and programs during his career, including here at BYU, and we welcome his return to Provo to oversee our offense.”

Sitake said changes were needed when he released Detmer on Nov. 27. The BYU offense ranked among the worst in the country in 2017, and the Cougars went 4-9, suffering their first losing season since 2004.

Grimes, 49, was making $560,000 plus incentives at LSU. His salary at BYU is unknown, and the private school does not have to disclose it. But a source told The Salt Lake Tribune that it is “significantly” higher than what Detmer was paid.

Grimes is a 25-year coaching veteran and has spent 10 of those years as a running game coordinator. He never has been a play-caller. He was at LSU the past four seasons, and his replacement reportedly already has been hired, signifying that his hiring at BYU has been in the works for quite some time.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to work, once again, at BYU,” Grimes said in the BYU release. “It is a special place, filled with extraordinary people and a rich football tradition.

“I recognize that with this position comes a great deal of responsibility to all of Cougar Nation. I not only welcome this, but consider it a privilege. My family and I are looking forward to returning to Utah and are ripe with anticipation for many great Saturdays in the fall in LaVell Edwards Stadium.”

Grimes thanked Sitake, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, school president Kevin Worthen and vice president Matthew Richardson “for having faith in me and granting me this opportunity.”

He also has worked at Virginia Tech, Colorado, Arizona State, Auburn, Boise State, Texas A&M and Rice. He was on the Auburn staff in 2010 when it won the BCS national championship game.

Grimes coached several of the best BYU linemen in school history during his three previous years in Provo, including Ray Feinga, Scott Young, Dallas Reynolds, Travis Bright and Lance Reynolds Jr.

The Cougars were No. 5 in total offense and scoring offense in 2006 and No. 13 in total offense and No. 24 in scoring offense in 2005. He left BYU after the 2006 season, Bronco Mendenhall’s second, to take a position at Colorado.

He helped developed star running back Leonard Fournette at LSU. His offensive line paved the way for four straight 1,000-yard rushers in each of his four seasons at the SEC school.

Grimes is from Garland, Texas, and was a four-year letterwinner at UTEP as an offensive tackle. He and his wife, Sheri, have four children.

BYU’s release said one of Grimes’ first duties will be completing his offensive staff for the Cougars, meaning that offensive line coach Mike Empey, running backs coach Reno Mahe, receivers coach Ben Cahoon and tight ends coach Steve Clark could be retained or released.

It appears that all of BYU’s defensive coaches’ jobs are safe.

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Jeff Grimes’ eyes narrowed and his brow creased, adding — just in case his soft Texas drawl left any erroneous doubt — even more to the urgency and fervency of the words tumbling out of his mouth.

He said: “I want guys who can impose their will on others. I tell guys to finish a block, even if a defender is out of a play. I want my offensive lineman to put him on the ground, and have all 300 pounds land on him, just so he knows how that feels. I’m not talking about diving at a guy’s knees. I’m talking about physical aggression.”

By Grimes’ way of thinking, the end justifies the means, and the mean.

He continued: “If we block well, our quarterbacks will complete passes, our running backs will find holes. If we do a good job, we’ll win most of our games. What we’re asking and telling these guys is, you won’t be on TV, you won’t make headlines, but when you limp off the field into the locker room together after a game, you can look at each other and have a great sense of pride and accomplishment.

“I have a standard that I will not change. Everyone stays tough, everyone plays hard on every play. That’s what I ask. That’s what I want.”

Grimes uttered those sentences more than 13 years ago, when he was the newly named offensive line coach at BYU. This week, he was hired as the Cougars’ new offensive coordinator, replacing another coach with a soft Lone-star drawl, a guy who had twice the success Grimes had as a player, but considerably less success and experience as a coach.

Before and since his first run in Provo, the big Texan with Jesus as the centerpiece of his life — he’s Baptist — and a slew of hard-mugged mentors as his football exemplars, his personal philosophy toward the game he’s made his profession hasn’t changed at all, just like he said it wouldn’t all those seasons ago.

Evolve a bit, yes. Change, no. Not when he coached at places such as Auburn and Virginia Tech and Texas A&M and Boise State and Arizona State and LSU and BYU, and now, BYU again.

And just like that, a program in desperate need of rejuvenation and inspiration, motivation and innovation will get it in the large form and frame of a man who was never all that great as a player — he had a couple shots with pro teams, and fell short — but who learned to earn whatever he gained through working hard and working smart and working in good faith.

The first time I ever heard the words family, faith, football crammed into the same sentence, the same breath, was during a long interview with Grimes in 2004. He termed them, “The Three F’s.” And the first two in no way would ever rob the last one. He never wanted anyone on or around a field to confuse faith for meekness or weakness.

It was during his high school days in Garland, a town outside of Dallas, when that mixture was made firm, like cement hardening in the hot Texas sun. During his junior year, one day at practice, he was feeling sick, sweating and heaving and puking under the duress of extreme effort. In that moment, he asked himself: “Why am I doing this? It’s not fun. Why?”

That’s when a coach walked up to him, blurring the lines between public education and private beliefs, and said: “When Jesus walked on this earth for 33 years, he never had an easy day.”

Grimes said that notion changed his outlook.

“It set the tone for the rest of my life,” he said then. “If I had quit, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am. I wouldn’t have learned all the things that football teaches — working through challenges, toughness, and character. I’m glad I stayed.”

And because he stayed, he learned the game from his offensive line coach at UTEP, a fellow by the name of Andy Reid, a BYU grad who now is the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, and from others, such as Ken Hatfield and R.C. Slocum and Mike Sherman and Dirk Koetter, among others.

During that conversation back in the day, Grimes displayed his grasp of the technical side of offensive football, spending half an hour on the nuances of blocking alone, mentioning how counter-intuitive some of it is, then moving on to some of his favorite plays in specific situations, demonstrating what years of studying and playing and walking the sidelines had taught him.

But what stood out the most about Grimes, alongside his balanced focus on life itself, was his mental approach to the physical aspects of football, how he wanted his players to meet the brutal challenges of the game with minds that were set on conquering them.

“These guys have to want to be the best offensive line in the country,” he said. “They have to be tough, physical, hard-working, blue-collar, the kind of guys who enjoy getting dirty and bloodied, who can fight in a phone booth for three or four hours. That’s not for everyone. You have to have a mental toughness that will overcome the defense.”

If BYU’s offense reflects the old coach/new coordinator’s philosophical approach, nobody will see the sometimes-soft, often-mismatched-and-hapless play that plagued the Cougars this past season.

Grimes said back then his standard will not change.

Now we’ll find out if his new players’ standard will.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.

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Washington • In a minor win for Democrats, the final GOP tax bill will not include a repeal of the Johnson Amendment, a change which would have enabled religious institutions and all nonprofits organized as 501(c)3s to endorse political candidates.

President Donald Trump had advocated strongly in favor of the repeal.

Trump promised to "totally destroy" the Johnson Amendment at the National Prayer Breakfast in February. Getting rid of it has been a priority of some spiritual leaders, especially in evangelical circles that have typically leaned Republican. The tax bill that passed the House in November scrapped the Johnson Amendment entirely, but the Senate bill did not, setting up as a difference that had to be ironed out in this final week of negotiations.

"I'm pleased to announced that Democrats successfully prevented the repeal of the Johnson Amendment from being jammed into any final Republican tax deal," said Sen. Ron Wyden, Ore., the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. He added that he would "continue to fight all attempts to eliminate this critical provision."

Democrats knew they would have little leverage to influence the final Republican tax bill because it was passed entirely with GOP votes in both the House and Senate. Republicans are using a process known as reconciliation to pass the tax bill, which only requires a simple majority in both chambers. But senior Democratic leaders in the Senate had one final card to play: They could challenge any part of the tax bill not actually having to do with taxes.

It's formally known as a "Byrd Rule" challenge. The Senate parliamentarian has the final say on what parts of the bill meet the Byrd Rule and which ones do not. Democrats were already successful in kicking out a provision in an earlier version of the Senate tax bill that would have allowed parents to start tax-preferred college savings accounts (known as 529 plans) for a fetus. The parliamentarian agreed that did not meet the Byrd Rule test.

Republicans did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Johnson Amendment has been in place since 1954 and is widely seen as a way to separate church and state in modern American life. Religious leaders are not supposed to give sermons endorsing specific candidates ahead of elections. Churches, synagogues, mosques and other nonprofit institutions are also prohibited from raising money for political candidates. If nonprofits or religious institutions want to engage in explicit political activities, they have to give up their 501(c)3 tax-exempt status.

There were concerns the repeal would create a new dark money channel for powerful donors to quietly funnel their money to political candidates. Under the House plan, both the Clinton Foundation and Trump Foundation would be able to explicitly get involved in political lobbying, for example.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress's official scorekeepers, estimated the repeal of the Johnson Amendment would cost the government $1 billion as the rich donated more money to religious institutions and nonprofits and got tax write-offs for doing so.

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