I was leaving the house last night to go to the church for Scouts and I heard a bit of Governor Herbert's State of the State address (that would have been fun to blog, but I had to go to Scouts.) Anyway, I heard him complaining about the Interior Department and the new plan to inventory "wild lands" which would seem to violate the settlement between Bush's Interior Secretary Norton and Utah Governor Leavitt from a few years back. Well, regardless of the merits of all that and whether the settlement may have been outside the authority of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act ("FLPMA") and the inventory well within FLPMA, the Governor complained about the amount of federally-owned land in the State and threw out the line to great applause that the State is not a colony of the federal government! That is in line with the popular theme of Utah's overwhelmingly Republican Legislature some of whom are actually proposing to take federal lands, including national parks, by eminent domain.
This is when it's hard to be a moderate. Or maybe better phrased, it shouldn't be considered liberal or radical to bring up the clear language of the US Constitution (Supremacy Clause), the Utah Enabling Act of 1894 and the Utah State Constitution which appears to be is in serious conflict with these philosophies of some in the Utah Legislature and maybe even the Governor's chair. Well, here goes - from the Utah Enabling Act as a condition for Utah Statehood and a State Constitution:
"That the people inhabiting said proposed State do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof; and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes; and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States, the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States, and said Indian lands shall remain under the absolute jurisdiction and control of the Congress of the United States"And they did it in the Utah Constitution Article III, Section 2:
"The people inhabiting this State do affirm and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries hereof, and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes, and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States, the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States, and said Indian lands shall remain under the absolute jurisdiction and control of the Congress of the United States."Indian lands aside, which nobody seems to be challenging at present (except maybe with regard to jurisdiction in the Uintah Basin - but I'll leave that work issue to the side), I don't think this could be any clearer.
I know there needs to be better communication between the public servants in the federal government and those in state government and even with the public at large. And I know that there is a historical and geographical basis for a lot of anti-federal government sentiment, some of which is even healthy. I also concede that many have differing views of these Constitutional, federal and state legal authorities and some of those views are based on deeply held philosophical and even religious sensitivities. But I remain troubled and challenged in my passionate moderation. I would appreciate any input on these issues as long as it remains civil and charitable as I try to be.
February 29, 2012
See my 2012 [slightly] less-than-charitable take on Rep. Ken Ivory's bill on the public lands here.