Last night, the Utah Tenth Amendment Center held its first annual legislative briefing, bringing together pro-10th amendment legislators with over 75 leaders and influential members of the various political and patriotic groups throughout the state. The purpose of this meeting was to allow any legislator to present to this group who planned to introduce a bill this session that relates to the 10th amendment.
What follows is a basic summary of each presentation.
Representative Chris Herrod
Last year, Rep. Herrod got HB143 passed which starts the eminent domain challenge against the federal government, which owns and controls around 70% of Utah land. The purpose, as he explained, is to “push in court the issue of who the sovereign is”.
This year, Rep. Herrod is introducing a bill that would require what’s called “coordination” between the federal government, the state, and the affected municipalities. Only through with the cooperation and consent of these local political subdivisions would the federal government, under this bill, be able to take or re-classify land in Utah.
Additionally, Rep. Herrod is running a bill that would change the makeup and meeting frequency of the Utah Constitutional Defense Council. “Now is the time for state legislatures to actively take a role in protecting our rights from federal intrusions,” said Herrod. “We should use every legal process that we can.”
Representative Curt Oda / Jennifer Gratz, ACRI
Jennifer Gratz, director of the American Civil Rights Institute, flew in from California to present at our meeting. Gratz was the plaintiff in a Supreme Court case challenging racial discrimination in admittance to public universities, and the Court ruled in her favor. Now through the ACRI, Gratz works to promote laws in the states that remove affirmative action. “You can’t have freedom without being guaranteed an equal chance to compete,” said Gratz. “Our government treats people differently based on their skin color.”
Five states have now banned affirmative action, with Arizona being the most recent. The Utah legislature narrowly defeated a bill last year that would put this equality measure into the constitution, setting a higher bar where the ruling could not be easily overturned at a later time by less virtuous politicians. “Even if these type of policies don’t exist in Utah, your constitution should guarantee that everyone be given a chance to compete,” Gratz said.
Representative Oda spoke as well, mentioning the importance of the bill and some of the hurdles faced in determining what related policies are put in place, as public institutions like to cover up what they’re doing, as they realize it would, if made public, look very bad.
Representative John Dougall (Larry Hilton presenting)
Rep. Dougall was unable to attend, so he requested that the Utah Sound Money Act be presented by Larry Hilton, its author. Larry discussed the fundamental importance of sound money, the failure of other nations in relying on fiat currency, and the restrictions on liberty that legal tender laws produced. He argued that passing the Utah Sound Money act would provide an immediately and proper stimulus within the state, mentioning how China is doing the same right now.
Representative Ken Ivory
Rep. Ivory presented his “where’s the line?” bill (currently titled “Federal Law Evaluation and Response Act” by legislative research) that would alter the constitutional defense council. They would be tasked with meeting, reviewing actions of federal agencies, congressional legislation, and executive orders, all based on the 36 constitutionally delegated powers to the federal government.
The council would then have a systematic process whereby objections would be made (where the federal government crossed the line), remedies would be sought, and a case would be built to present yearly to the state legislature to have evidence and a standing record of what the federal government has done, how they have responded, and what needs to be done to enforce the constitutional line.
The bill would also recreate committees of correspondence, opening “direct conduits of communication between state legislatures,” as Rep. Ivory said.
Representative Carl Wimmer
Rep. Wimmer began by speaking about the edujobs bill, commenting that it was “so brazen in its complete overthrow of state legislative bodies.” He argued that the 16th amendment is the most dangerous of all amendments, as it has enslaved the states (which ultimately consented to their enslavement). Half of our budget is from federal dollars, he noted.
Wimmer’s first bill is “very complex”, he said. He’s trying to figure out how Utah can capture federal tax dollars so that they come back to the state. “We send a dollar to the feds. They spend ten dollars to send us back 85 cents,” said Wimmer. The bill would, as it’s currently being drafted, require Utah citizens to pay federal income tax to the state tax commission. There will then be a board set up to determine which federal agencies and departments are constitutional. The relevant amount of tax money will then be disbursed to those entities only. “The state would act as a pass-through entity for the taxes we send them,” he said.
His second bill deals with land. This bill is a nullification bill, stating that any future federal land grabs that don’t go through the Utah legislature first for approval will be null and void in Utah, and will direct the Governor to take any necessary actions to enforce the bill. Commenting on Tom Woods’ Nullification book, Wimmer said: “I’ve read the book. I consumed the book.”
He noted that if nullification is going to work, Utah needs courageous leaders who stand up for it. “You have my commitment that I’m that type of leader,” said Wimmer. “I’ll be there. Now go out and get the rest of them.”
Senator Dan Liljenquist
Senator Liljenquist’s presentation to our group was his fifth of the day! He presented the Medicaid bill he has been putting a lot of time into. He began by relaying a variety of projects on medicaid and the current fiscal situation we’re in. Currently, Medicaid is 18% of Utah’s budget. In a decade, it will be 36%—before Obamacare. That’s $1 billion additional state funds that would have to come from somewhere. Obamacare would raise it to 46%. “There’s no way we can afford it,” he said.
He noted that the federal government has expanded the eligibility requirements, so now all sorts of people are on Medicaid that were never supposed to be. His bill, among many other things, would seek for a block grant so Utah could use its money as it sees fit, and would aim to save the private insurance market. He has buy-in from many other leaders and businessmen who would be impacted by this issue, and feels confident of its passage. “Something has to be done, and soon,” said the Senator.
Representative Bill Wright (Connor Boyack presenting)
Rep. Wright will be sponsoring a bill that will do for agriculture what SB11 did for firearms. Please see this post for more information on this project.
We had a very energetic group that spoke very favorably of this meeting. We’ll definitely be doing it again next year. The purpose, of course, is to allow these leaders to get a snapshot of the Utah tenth amendment agenda for the year, and report back to their members and networks to spread the word and solicit support.
To that end, please share this post with those in your circle of influence. For more information on any given bill, please contact its sponsor. Find information for Representatives here, and Senators here.
Connor Boyack is president of Libertas Institute. He is the author of Latter-day Liberty: A Gospel Approach to Government and Politics and Latter-day Responsibility: Choosing Liberty Through Personal Accountability.
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