Rep. Rob Bishop was the last of Utah's four representatives to address the current session of the Utah Legislature, but his message didn't deviate much from the thematic elements broached by his House colleagues: bigger isn't better especially when it comes to government.
The Republican told the senators Monday that great caution should be observed with the federal government's push for common core a set of education standards that would tie federal money to local districts. Participation is voluntary by the states, but Bishop said it was a "hook" designed to drag the state into answering to the federal government.
"They're trying to get you to buy into this," Bishop said. "If you go through their program and buy into their waiver of No Child Left Behind ... you should be concerned."
He added: "I say that as an old teacher who wants freedom more than anything else."
Bishop, who has served in Utah's 1st Congressional District since 2003, donned a sweater to address the Utah House and Senate and leaned heavily on his routine of one-liners and jokes before settling into the substance of his comments.
He said Utah's passage of a measure last year that required the federal government to turn over public lands to the state by 2014 was helpful in pushing the issue of state control though he admitted Utah would "always be a public lands state."
In the House, Bishop praised Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, and Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, for their efforts in the public lands fight and said that when there have been conflicts between the federal and state governments, "conventional wisdom" is that the states should yield.
"Conventional wisdom sucks," Bishop said. "The West does not need to be protected from itself."
Some of the questions in the Senate focused on federal budget sequestration and fears that the deep cuts would result in Hill Air Force Base facing severe reductions. He told the House that furlough notices are scheduled to go out this week notifying workers, including those in Utah, who do maintenance on aircraft at the base.
Typically each session, Utah's congressional delegation comes to address the state Legislature. So far, both Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Orrin Hatch have yet to visit.