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Utah lawmakers are seeking new power for states to veto presidential executive orders and federal administrative rules.
The House voted 60-11 Friday to endorse HCR6, which calls for passage of the "Re-empowerment of the States Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution, introduced in Congress by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah.
Under that amendment, if two-thirds of state legislatures agree, they could veto any executive order or administrative rule. It does not include acts of Congress.
"Now states are subservient and take orders from the federal government on almost every issue," said Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, sponsor of HCR6. "Not only does it result in a loss of state powers, it results in a loss of individual freedom."
He said such veto power could allow states to act as an extra check on Washington and force the federal government to pay more attention to states. He predicted the process would be used only in the most egregious cases.
Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, supported the bill as far as it goes, but lamented that it excludes acts of Congress. He said that shows Washington cannot be trusted to reform itself, and that a convention of the states is needed to consider amendments to give back power to the states.
The national leader of the drive for such a convention, former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., visited the Utah Legislature on Friday, and appeared at a rally of a few dozen supporters. He said Utah is the 11th state he has visited so far this year.
"Across the country, people are saying we want our freedom back," he told the rally.
He said Utah if it joins the call for an unprecedented constitutional convention "would turn things around" for the country.
Nelson is pushing a resolution in the Legislature calling for a convention of the states, HCR3. It passed 73-0 in the House, and awaits Senate debate.