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A Democratic senator wants to push Utah's long-running dispute over federal lands toward resolution and a Senate committee on Wednesday agreed with the goal.
SB105, sponsored by Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, would give the attorney general until June 30, 2016 a year later than Dabakis originally proposed to file a lawsuit contesting the ownership of 32 million acres of federal land within Utah's borders.
"The purpose of this bill is simple: It is to keep a squeeze on the attorney general and on the state and on our vision so we have some end-game on this endless battle we have with the feds," Dabakis told the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Dabakis said it doesn't tie the attorney general's hands and, if the deadline is unworkable, the Legislature can change it later. But it sends a message the Legislature wants to see the question resolved.
The Legislature has "spent a ton of money" on the public lands fight and needs to take steps to get the question before the U.S. Supreme Court, Dabakis said.
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said she supports the goal, but is concerned about putting a deadline in code and voted against the bill. However, the committee voted 4-2 to move the bill to the full Senate for consideration.