Great news for rural Utah. If the Senate and Governor follow the House lead, the stream of revenue will be returned to rural counties after being upset by the creation of the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument and the subsequent exchange of federal and state lands.
House Bill 134, sponsored by Monroe native John Mathis, received near unanimous support. I was pleased to co-sponsor, lobby, and speak in support of this bill.
Emery, Sevier, Duchesne, and Carbon will receive direct royalty payments on minerals extracted from the exchanged lands, and other counties, most notably Kane and Garfield, will be compensated for loss of federal payments in lieu of taxes on lands transferred to the state.
This is truly a "win-win." The direct benefit extends, in varying amounts, to some 27 counties and indirectly to all. Moreover, the payments will not travel to Washington and come back with strings attached, but will be made directly to the counties and be available for general county purposes.
The House passed a "trigger" bill governing abortion which will take effect if and when Roe v. Wade is modified. In the meantime we avoid spending significant sums, estimated between $3-6 million, funding both sides of a fight that we unsuccessfully pursued in the early 1990s and which currently appears unwinable.
Utah's position on this issue has been clear and consistent. There is strong sentiment to protect the unborn and to impose restraints on decisions to terminate life. Utah must remain vigilant in picking the right time and means to advance its position. A failed fight increases the level of entrenchment.
United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is committed to a more unified Court. Hopefully the time will come when the Court will come together in finding a greater role for state law in dealing with what is easily the most divisive issue in America during the last nearly 40 years.