Archive for the ‘States Rights’ Category

Daily Fix, Dec 31

December 31, 2010

Welcome to the last day of 2010! What a ride this year has been politically. Pretty darn fun from where I sit.  So, for political junkies like me, here’s one final fix for the year.

*Senator Steve Urquhart pens an editorial on the cruel joke political posturing is playing on the West. “Wilderness protection and economic activity both can be accommodated,” he says. “But discussion and compromise take time, and healthy democratic process isn’t nearly as sexy as a swashbuckling coup that instantly gives a victory to one side of a multi-party issue.” Deseret News

*The Utah Senate tweeted out a question wanting to know what people thought about an omnibus immigration bill and linking to a newspaper article. Not only was it the first time the public heard about a bill that would roll “all” immigration bills together, but it was the first legislators heard of it as well.  On the Senate side, it appears that very few Senators were involved in the discussions.  On the House side,  Rep Chris Herrod found out about it when called by the reporter for comment and many others were undoubtedly left out of the loop. Omnibus bills crafted behind closed doors don’t have a history of sitting well with folks not at the table.  Sometimes I wonder if the Utah Senate missed the message sent this year – enough with the status quo, enough with an appalling lack of openness and transparency, enough with top-down, heavy-handed leadership.  I expect some pretty interesting fireworks come the session. SL Tribune

*We’re #1! At least for now….Walmart, GiftCard Bäks and Utah Food Bank are encouraging all Utahns to vote for Salt Lake City and Ogden from a list of 100 communities where hunger rates are the highest. The city with the most support will receive $1 million in grants and the next five cities with the highest support will receive $100,000 each. Hop onto your Facebook page, search “Feed Utah” and click away. This is real money to a real cause. Let’s keep that #1 spot. KSL

*In a slightly-related-to-politics spot, a hospital in Maryland is prohibiting all photography during or after childbirth. Locally, the U o U lets the family make their own photography decisions, IHC prohibits filming during C-Sections and/or epidural use and St Marks leaves it to the doctor’s discretion.  The reason given? Doctors need to concentrate. Apparently that’s now the politically correct way of saying CYA so photographic evidence can’t be used against you in a court of law. One more reason to use a midwife. ABC 4

*The Top Ten Most Influential Utahns as seen by the DNews include almost-Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart, almost-Senator Mike Lee and Utah Senator Luz Robles. Of course it also includes a guy involved a pretty big fraud case, so take it for what it’s worth. Deseret News

*Speaking of Top Ten lists, Chris Vanocur looks at the the Top Ten Top Ten lists of 2010. Really. A couple of the best include “Top political quotes” with the number one spot going to Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell: “I’m not a witch.” Or how about this one on the Top 10 border seizures:”Border patrol agents seize scuba gear, marijuana in sewer system.” Oh, and you HAVE to see the double-rainbow YouTube favorite…. ABC 4

*Speaking of Chris Vanocur, the Vanocur Group will be on Channel 4 at 8 am Sunday morning to take a look back at the political world of 2010. If you can’t watch or TIVO, it’ll be online soon and I’ll post links.

Enjoy your celebrating tonight – and if you drink something stronger than Martinelli’s, please don’t drive.  See you next year!


Bishop introduces Repeal Amendment

November 30, 2010

Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.

Today, Congressman Rob Bishop, Co-Chair of the 10th Amendment Task Force proposed the above amendment to the U.S. Constitution, also known as the Repeal Amendment.

This amendment would provide states with the authority to “repeal any federal law, regulation, tax, or unfunded mandate if two-thirds of the States are in agreement.” The Repeal Amendment would provide a targeted way to reverse particular congressional acts and administrative regulations the public opposes.

Outgoing Utah House Speaker, Dave Clark, was with Congressman Bishop this morning.  “On every policy issue Washington, D.C. has faced they have had a choice between more freedom or more government. Time after time, on issue after issue, they have chosen the path of more government over more freedom,” he said.  “That is not the approach that made America prosper. The Repeal Amendment may be the only way to push back the federal government’s encroachment on sovereign states rights.”

Congressman Bishop pointed out that the U.S. Constitution, as drafted by the Founders, designed a system that created a balance of power between state and national government, but whose balance has been eroded.

“I’m proud to sponsor the Repeal Amendment in Congress because it is a simple, transparent tool that can help restore balance and reduce the concentration of power in Washington,” Bishop added. “While the Repeal Amendment will not immediately turn the tide of a power-hungry, overreaching national government, it is an arrow in the quiver of states and a solid first step that can be taken to begin restoring the balance of power our Founding Fathers intended when they drafted the Constitution.”

As predicted, the Utah legislature takes $101 million

November 17, 2010

The Utah legislature convened a special session today to talk about taking the $101 million in “Edu-jobs” federal dollars. There were impassioned speeches – Senator Madsen’s was my favorite – and there were amendments and a substitute bill. There even was an awful lot of sauntering on the Senate side which generally means they don’t have the votes. That added slightly to the non-drama of the day. But, in the end, the House passed the resolution put forward by Speaker-elect Lockhart and accepted the money with 14 no votes. The Senate passed it on a 22-6 vote.

The House Reps who voted no were Dougall, Herrod, Noel, Sumsion, Frank, Mathis, Oda, Wright, Francis Gibson, Morley, Painter, Harper, Newbold and Sandstrom. The Senators were Buttars, Madsen, Stowell, Dayton, Howard Stephenson and Urquhart. Details can be found on the state website.

Interestingly, when this bill was passed on a federal level, only one member of the Utah delegation voted FOR it. Any guesses who?

Federal dollars and legislative posturing

November 16, 2010

Tomorrow, the Utah legislature will convene a special session for the purpose of voting on whether to take $101 million from the federal government.  Let’s be clear.  They will take the money.  But before they do, we’ll hear more talk about how the money is bad.  More talk about overreach by the federal government.  More about the usurpation of states’ rights.  But they will take it.

Why? Because the federal government has “barbed” the deal.  If the state decides NOT to take the money, the federal government can – and undoubtedly will – give the money directly to individual school districts. The legislature can have some control over where the money goes or they can have no control. The legislature is also very tightly bound by where they can spend the money. It can’t go for brick and mortar – it must go for personnel. So, for those states who couldn’t – or wouldn’t – balance their budget, it’s a reward for bad behavior. A bailout for irresponsibility. It punishes those responsible states who have balanced their budgets by giving them one-time money for on-going needs. They’ll also take it because more legislators want it than oppose it.

So – the special session will convene, the speeches in opposition will be given, enough people will vote no to prove their point – and the majority will vote to take the money. The biggest drawback? The lashing that will come from the far right for every legislator not “pure” enough to vote no.

Protecting the secret ballot – Utah’s Amendment A

October 11, 2010

Consisting of just a few words, Utah’s Amendment A – to paraphrase Joe Biden – is a big effing deal. The amendment reads:

Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to specify that elections currently required to be by secret ballot include elections under state or federal law for public office, on an initiative or referendum, or to designate or authorize employee or individual representation?

The right to a secret ballot is an essential and fundamental principle in our society. When the right to a secret ballot is removed, individual liberties and freedom decline.

This type of amendment has garnered national attention over many months. It originally passed out of the Utah legislature in March of 2009.  Nationally, the “card check” or “majority sign-up” movement is being promoted by Obama, the Democrats and big labor. Card check is a method for American employees to organize into a labor union simply by signing a card, rather than by vote. Instead of holding a secret ballot election where employees can vote anonymously, card check would mean that the employees would unionize as soon as they reached 50%+1 of the employees signed the card. Opponents argue that signers could be coerced into signing through intimidation and pressure and that private ballots are a basic American right. A 2004 Zogby study showed that 78% of union members supported keeping the secret ballot system.

However, passing the “Employee Free Choice Act” (another name for card check), has been a key plank for the Obama administration. Not surprisingly, the effort has been actively supported by the AFL-CIO. Earlier this year, the national president, Richard Trumka, said “”I think we’ll get health care done and I think we’ll get labor law reform done before the year’s up.” Just a couple of days ago, he hinted that there might be a vote on this bill during the lame duck session.

By voting YES on this amendment to the Utah Constitution, Utah will maintain the right to a secret ballot. The Utah Taxpayers Association held a press conference yesterday where they announced their support for Amendment A, and the pledge they sent to every candidate in Utah. The pledge simply states:

By signing below, I declare my support for Constitutional Amendment A, SOS Ballot. My signature also authorizes the Utah Taxpayers Association to publicize my support FOR Constitutional Amendment A, on the November 2010 ballot.

On October 20th, the Taxpayer’s Association will announce which candidates have signed the pledge – and which have not. Expect to see a majority – a super-majority, even – of supporters.

Lame duck immigration legislation

October 6, 2010

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced an immigration bill a couple of days before the Senate adjourned until November 15th. There was, of course, no time to act on that bill except to refer it to committee where it will likely die. Republicans weren’t impressed.

According to a Politico article:

Republicans think the legislation is just a game to gin up the base, potentially in heavily Hispanic parts of the country.

The fall push for immigration reform is “for effect rather than reality,” said Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). And Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who previously sponsored the DREAM Act but doesn’t support it now, called it nothing more than a “cynical ploy for votes.”

“Sooner or later, we’ve got to do it, but anything done in this time period is just for show,” Hatch told POLITICO. “Apparently, [Menendez] thinks there is some benefit, but it is cynical and it’s not right to do it at this point. And it’s very unlikely for it to have any success. In fact, it’s impossible.”

Ironically, Senator Hatch introduced his own lame-duck immigration bill the very next day. He said his bill would go a long way towards securing the border and clamping down on identity theft and drug cartels.

Not everyone was impressed with his efforts either. According to the Salt Lake Tribune:

Eli Cawley, chairman of the Utah Minuteman Project, says he doesn’t believe Hatch is serious about the issue and overlooked the businesses that hire undocumented immigrants.

“I think he completely misses the boat when it comes to the real problem with illegal immigration,” Cawley said.

Without going after the businesses that hire the immigrants, and their connections with those who smuggle them across the border, the flow of immigrants will continue, Cawley said.

Ben Johnson, the executive director of the Washington-based American Immigration Council, says Hatch’s bill is simply more of the same rhetoric that’s been tossed around for a while and does nothing to move the debate forward.

“The reality is that there too many politicians, and I think, unfortunately, Senator Hatch is beginning to fall into that category, introducing legislation not in any effort to actually get it passed but to send messages to their constituents,” Johnson said.

No more Right-to-Work states?

October 5, 2010

Utah is one of 22 right-to-work states where workers can actually CHOOSE whether to join a union or not, if their work is unionized. In the other 28 states – also called “forced dues” states – anyone working at a unionized place of employment is forced to pay union dues or lose their jobs.

In 1947, the National Labor Relations Act was amended and allowed states the right to establish “Right-to-Work” laws. That ability is contained within a single paragraph. (What? It didn’t take 2000 pages to get a law passed?!) That paragraph reads simply:

(b) [Agreements requiring union membership in violation of State law] Nothing in this Act [subchapter] shall be construed as authorizing the execution or application of agreements requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment in any State or Territory in which such execution or application is prohibited by State or Territorial law.

Obviously, removal of this one paragraph would then return all states to “forced-dues” status. California Congressman Brad Sherman (D) has introduced legislation that would do just that.

From his website:

Today, Congressman Brad Sherman announced the introduction of dramatic legislation that would eliminate so-called “right-to-work” laws, which was applauded by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Sherman has a strong record of supporting working men and women and earned a 100% rating from the AFL-CIO….

I do not believe that there should be a right to be treated unfairly or to endure unnecessary restrictions. Right-to-work laws strip unions of their legitimate ability to collect dues, even when the worker is covered by a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement. This forces unions to use their time and members’ dues to provide benefits to free riders who are exempt from paying their fair share,” said Congressman Brad Sherman. “These laws are harmful to states like California, which allows labor unions to organize, because now we have to compete with the race to the bottom as our companies have to compete with those where the workers would like better wages, working conditions and benefits but are unable to organize to get them.”

With the introduction of legislation banning so-called right-to-work, Congressman Sherman has once again demonstrated his strong commitment to working families,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. “Right-to-work laws undermine the economy and weaken workers’ ability to bargain for better working conditions, which translates into lower pay and fewer benefits for everyone.”

This is not the first time that Congressman Sherman has introduced this legislation, but this year, with a lame-duck Congress and a Democrat in the White House, it’s possible he might actually get some traction. The unions – HUGE donors to Democrat campaigns – are undoubtedly doing backflips of joy.

Right here in Utah, unions have donated a quarter of a million dollars to Peter Corroon’s gubernatorial race and state legislative races.

Philpot swings at Matheson’s land use policies

August 31, 2010

Utah’s delegation is almost universally united in standing up to Ken Salazar, his cronies and their control of 2/3 of the land in Utah. The lone hold-out is, of course, Democrat Jim Matheson.  Matheson – aka Phantom Jim – didn’t have the, um, …. courage…. to stand up to Salazar when 77 leases were yanked in Uintah county. (He did ask Salazar in a letter to pretty please restore them. Nothing happened, of course.) Matheson stayed in the background when Rep Rob Bishop and others spoke out on the administration’s backdoor plan to claim millions of acres. Matheson DID, however, announce a plan earlier this year to set aside 26,000 additional acres of wilderness in the Wasatch Mountains, prompting Alta mayor Tom Ballard to remark “It’s been kind of jammed down our throats.”

Yesterday, Matheson’s Republican opponent, Morgan Philpot took him to task as he unveiled his short, medium and long-term goals for land use.. He claimed that with 67% of the state owned by the federal government, we are no longer a sovereign state, but a “geographic area administrator” for the feds. He announced that he is endorsed by all three Washington county commissioners and said that his campaign is on track to wrap up the endorsements of 75% of the county commissioners in the second district.  He pointed to Matheson’s absenteeism and said the district – and especially the rural counties – needed someone who would go to bat for them.  The current Congressman simply will not.

Congressman Rob Bishop appeared with Philpot at his press conference. He said unequivocally that Philpot’s ideas “hit the core” of what needs to be done. “They are the kind of proactive, positive ideas that need to go back there to Congress,” he said. “He will fit in brilliantly with the entire delegation, as well as within Congress.”

In the short term, Philpot proposes that the Utah delegation work to restore the recently canceled energy leases, to increase access, specifically to school trust lands, and to open them for development.

In the medium term, he says that we must establish “once and for all” the validity of county RS2477 road rights of way and to pursue permanent, full funding of PILT – Payments in Lieu of Taxes.

In the long-term, Philpot said we must pursue a “legal and legislative strategy designed to achieve parity (as required by the Constitution) between public lands states and the rest of the Union.”

Matheson told KSL he has nothing to be ashamed of and that he has worked well with county commissioners in the past. His spokeswoman said it was not surprising Philpot got the endorsement of the Washington county commissioners –  they were Republican, after all. Wonder if she’ll be surprised if Philpot also gets the majority of the votes in this R+15 district?

Take Back Utah Rally

August 25, 2010

This Saturday, “Take Back Utah” is holding a parade and rally at the state Capitol. Last year, 4000 outdoor enthusiasts and multiple users of public land from around the country gathered in Salt Lake to march on the capitol in protest of land restrictions placed on Utah’s public lands by the federal government.

Legislators subsequently created, debated and passed legislation that challenged the fed’s authority over federal lands and gives the state the power of eminent domain.

In an ongoing effort to show support for true “multiple use” of our lands, “Take Back Utah” has scheduled an ATV/Jeep/mountain bike/horseback/walking parade through downtown Salt Lake, followed by a rally on Capitol Hill. Access to public land in Utah remains a key issue among many voters and elected officials and the thousands expected on Saturday will be there to show their concern.

The 2010 parade and rally, scheduled for this Saturday, August 28th, will run from Liberty Park to the State Capital. The parade is free to enter, and representatives from all groups that use public lands are encouraged to join this event. Staging begins at Liberty Park on the 28th at 6 AM. 10:00 to 12:00 will be the parade and 12:30 to 1:30 the rally. Scheduled to speak in person are Governor Herbert, Rep Rob Bishop and Congressional hopeful, Morgan Philpot. Coming to you via Jumbo-tron are Senate candidate Mike Lee and Representative Jason Chaffetz.

Rob Bishop, protector of the West

August 11, 2010

Congressman Rob Bishop, Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, today announced that he recently obtained the preceding 14 pages previously missing from an internal Department of Interior (DOI) memo leaked last February.

As a reminder, that document detailed planning within the Department of the Interior to use the Antiquities Act to potentially designate up to 13 million acres as new national monuments.

The newly obtained 14 pages further detail plans within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to completely overhaul the way federal lands are managed in the U.S., including the creation of new ecosystem areas that require the acquisition of new federal lands. According to Bishop, the plans would “vastly expand the power, reach and control of federal land managers.”

“These 14 pages are further evidence of this Administration’s efforts, under the guidance of Secretary Salazar, to control western lands by unilaterally locking them up without input from local residents and stakeholders nor the approval of Congress. Their plotting behind closed doors is disingenuous at best and flies in the face of this Administration’s so-called ‘transparency’,” said Congressman Bishop. “Thousands of westerners whose livelihoods depend upon access to our public lands stand to be affected by these decisions and yet this document blatantly goes out of its way to exclude their input or participation. If there was any question about whether or not this Administration has declared a war on the West, these new documents are evidence enough.”

The BLM is only one of the divisions of the DOI that have compiled similar memos. On February 26, 2010, Congressman Bishop, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04) and other Western Caucus Members sent a letter to DOI Secretary Ken Salazar requesting all relative information pertaining to the DOI’s plans to designate new national monuments throughout the West. It has been more than five months since the request was made and the DOI continues to refuse to fully comply with the official document request.”

“The reality is that this is NOT the complete set of documents pertaining to the Administration’s plans to overhaul the way public lands are managed in this country. We know that other documents like this are out there. We’ve requested them, but the folks at Interior continue to stonewall,” Bishop added. “My biggest concern is that if they’re willing to let documents this damning out from their safekeeping, they are surely protecting others that are far worse and even more revealing.”

“I remain committed to forcing Secretary Salazar and all others involved in this matter into the light of full transparency, which as these documents prove, is not a place they seem to be comfortable,” Bishop concluded. “But this potential land and power grab needs to exposed, it needs to be laid out before the public, and it needs to be stopped.”

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