Resolution exempting Utah from Antiquities Act passes Utah House

A measure asking Congress to exempt Utah from the 1906 Antiquities Act passed through the Utah House Friday.

Lawmakers voted 59-13 to progress Rep. Carl Albrecht’s House Joint Resolution 1, which calls on Utah’s congressional delegation to draft legislation excluding Utah from future national monument designations by a president.

Utah would join Wyoming and Alaska as the only states requiring congressional consent to create national monuments under the Antiquities Act.

The resolution comes in the wake of last December’s downsizing and re-designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments by Pres. Donald Trump. Albrecht, a Republican from Richfield, says his proposal stems from a lack of local input and transparency in the monument designation process.

“My resolution is more about restoring civility and letting the people decide, rather than punting this political football back and forth from one presidential administration to another or to the next,” he said.

The conversation surrounding the 2016 Bears Ears National Monument designation by former Pres. Barack Obama has been a contentious one among Utahns. Native American tribes and conservation groups advocated for that designation, while the state legislature passed a 2017 resolution asking Trump to rescind the monument.

Salt Lake City Democratic Rep. Angela Romero has been an outspoken supporter of the original monument designation and spoke against Albrecht’s resolution.

“Much of the history of my people, my people indigenous to this country, has been left out of this entire conversation,” Romero said. “So when we talk about who’s been left out of this conversation, you’re looking at someone right now, and you’re looking at some of the people that I represent–my forefathers, my foremothers.”

HJR1 moves on to the Senate next for debate. If it passes there and is signed by the governor, it will be sent to Utah’s congressional delegation.