U.S. Senate Candidate Mike Lee
(KCPW News) Hundreds of Utahns rallied at the state Capitol yesterday in support of lawmakers’ efforts to take control of federal public lands. The rally also attracted the Legislature’s Patrick Henry caucus, whose members talked about the state’s rights bills moving forward this session. And Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Lee drew the loudest applause from the crowd.
“I don’t know about you, I’m not comfortable with the idea of a sovereign state being the lapdog of a federal master. And I will not put up with it, not for another minute. I support these legislators and what they do,” he said.
But the anti-federal vibe this session has finally irked Democrats to action. The House and Senate Minority Caucuses held a joint press conference yesterday at the Capitol to say they too support state’s rights, but it’s time to focus on other things.
House Minority Leader David Litvack said he’d like to see the Republican leadership refocus the debate on the most pressing issue, the budget, instead of spending so much time on bills challenging the federal government.
“It doesn’t reflect what is important to the majority of Utahns. I would say that, actually, it probably doesn’t really reflect where the priority is for this institution or the majority of state legislators,” he said. “It is a few legislators that have made this a priority and it’s time to get back to basics.”
Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones sees real danger in the tone of the debate, and wondered if it will make the public become cynical about the government. She also worries about the cost of passing several states’ rights bills. Jones believes it could cost taxpayers $1.5 billion in litigation fees and lost federal funding.