Utah Gov. Herbert signs bill demanding state control of federal lands by 2014?
House Bill 148, which easily passed the Legislature, is saddled with a warning from legislative attorneys that there is a high probability it will be found unconstitutional. But Republican lawmakers and Herbert are optimistic about their chances in court, especially if they can persuade other western states to pass similar legislation.
Ideally, state and federal officials should work together to improve access and increase development opportunities and improve conservation on public lands, Herbert said. Alternatively, the state’s congressional delegation would be able to work through Congress to give the state more control.
If those approaches fail, Herbert said a lawsuit to answer the constitutional question needs to remain an option.
“It’s not a slam dunk, but there is legal reasoning and a rational thought process,” Herbert said. “But this is the first step in a long journey. There is a lot of education needed to raise awareness.”
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