Without a clue
Lawmakers hide behind stunts
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"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding." — Article VI, U.S. Constitution

The irrational hostility some members of the Utah Legislature feel toward the government of the United States took yet another insane step Monday. With House passage of HB511, our rebels without a clue are moving to give cities and counties the power to seize land belonging to the federal government.

The Legislature's own staff attorneys, along with common sense, logic and even a cursory reading of the U.S. Constitution — especially the Supremacy Clause, above — recommend against such a pointless stab at Washington.

The idea that any city or county, in Utah or any other state, has or could claim the power to take title to land that now belongs to all the people of the United States is absurd.

It's troublesome that people bright enough to get themselves elected as members of the Utah Legislature don't realize that. Which leads to the concern that there is a method to their madness.

HB511 joins a package of other bills and resolutions now making their way through the legislative sausage grinder. Those measures have the goal of seeking, or taking, the huge percentage of the state now held by the feds and either selling it directly to private owners or turning it over to state or local governments, which would move to sell most or all of it.

In addition to the apparent pleasure taken — and political points gained — by talking smack to Uncle Sam, the stated purpose of these measures is to open million of acres to all kinds of development, from mining to multi-family development, and thus onto the tax rolls.

Of course, it's not going to happen. And, as long as it doesn't happen, Utah politicians can continue to blame many of their own failures, particularly their inability to structure a tax code that adequately supports public and higher education, on the fact that such a large portion of the state's lands pay no taxes.

It is all reminiscent of the way the Castro brothers managed to maintain their unchallenged rule of Cuba for 60 years— by shifting the blame from their own failures to the ongoing U.S. trade embargo.

Enough of this foolishness is enough.