Legislative Update: Week #3
The Western Hunting and Conservation Expo February 16-19
Over 40,000 sportsmen will descend on the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City next week, February 16-19, for the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo. Visitors will hail from 45 states and 17 countries.
Hunting is a $2.3 billion industry in Utah and adds significantly to the state’s economy. The event itself is projected to generate $30 million in economic activity, including $5 million in private funds to be used for conservation purposes within the State of Utah.
Three hundred sixty vendors are slated to participate in the expo.
Importance of Outdoor Industry to Utah
Utah has become a top destination for those drawn to our lands, our wildlife and the markets that exist here for outdoor products. The outdoor recreation industry is an integral part of our state culture, and each year Utah hosts three Outdoor Recreation Summits (Ogden, Moab and Cedar City) to address the industry and regional concerns, and build relationships among various parties.
The interests of hunters align well with those who want to see the State of Utah control its own public lands. We have always been a public lands state and most Utahns want to keep it that way, but they reject the notion that federal bureaucrats thousands of miles away are better stewards of the land than the people who live on and around it. On state-managed lands, we see better erosion control, healthier watersheds and stronger, more vibrant herds – all of which benefit hunters and other outdoor recreationalists.
Utah has consistently shown its commitment to healthy public lands, with the largest active watershed and wildlife habitat restoration program in the U.S. Since 2005, over 1.3 million acres have been restored through this program at an annual cost of approximately $14 million.
Our 43 State Parks receive more visitors per acre than our National Parks, and they do it without running the maintenance deficits and backlogs that burden the federally-managed parks. In 2013, when the federal government shut down, state leaders stepped forward to reopen the National Parks in Utah, using over $1.5 million in state funds that still haven’t all been reimbursed.
Utah is committed to the management of our lands in a way that allows for greater access and use, and healthier forests, ranges and wildlife. We welcome those who want to come here and enjoy the many benefits offered by Utah public lands.
Commission on Federalism
The Commission on Federalism has been meeting regularly thus far this session in order to identify where the federal government has been impinging on state sovereignty.
Utah’s federal delegation has sought clarification on the areas and issues where state legislators have seen overreach and where and how they would like to have a greater ability to govern their own affairs.
House Speaker Hughes and Senate President Niederhauser have asked the Commission to work throughout the session to prepare a list of areas and specific items to present to our federal delegation for consideration.
Information about the Commission, its meeting times, agendas and recordings, can be found on the Legislature’s website.
Recap: H.C.R. 11
H.C.R. 11, Concurrent Resolution Urging the President to Rescind the Bears Ears National Monument Designation, passed the House and Senate and was signed by Governor Gary Herbert on the evening of Friday, Feb. 3. It is now headed to Utah’s Washington delegation. This concurrent resolution urges the new administration to remove the 1.35 million acre monument designation made by the previous president shortly before leaving office.
Nearly 70 percent of Utah is under federal management and control, and 90 percent of Utah’s population lives on just 1 percent of its land. The Antiquities Act, created by Teddy Roosevelt, was never intended to be used to lock up large swathes of land; it was meant to set aside only the smallest area necessary to protect significant archaeological or historical sites. This monument declaration claims to protect such “antiquities” as star-filled nights, coyotes and pine trees. While these are a part of Utah’s wild areas, they are certainly not what has ever been contemplated as worthy of protection under the Antiquities Act.
Congressman Stewart Addresses House
On Thursday, February 9, Congressman Chris Stewart gave his annual report to the Utah Legislature. During his visit, he addressed Congress’ priorities, which include reforming the tax code and repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Rep. Stewart expressed that we as Americans have the responsibility to speak the truth, listen respectfully to others and protect Americans and America’s interests around the world. Click here to watch his remarks (begins at 15:34 mins).
Congressman Chaffetz Visits the Utah House
During the Majority Caucus meeting on Thursday, February 9, Congressman Jason Chaffetz gave an update on what he is working on in Washington, as well as his recent meeting with the president. During that meeting, Chaffetz asked the president to repeal the Bears Ears National Monument designation. He mentioned to the caucus that he would like to do away with the Antiquities Act in its entirety.
Rep. Chaffetz talked about the new Congress’ aggressive reform agenda, including repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, reforming the burdensome U.S. tax code and rebuilding the military infrastructure. He expressed his desire to do away with the U.S. Department of Education, saying that states and the many layers of interested parties, from parents to teachers and principals to school boards, pretty much have it covered.