We see that Gov. Herbert has signed the silly and potentially expensive bill to have Utah use emminent domain to take federal lands in the state. A story (click) here discusses it in someone else’s newspaper, so take it for what it’s worth.
This was another one of those idiotic message bills the Legislature passed. The idea is that Utah is owned, 2/3, by the federal government and we want some of that land so we can use it to make money for the poor suffering school children of Utah. Notice how they always hold those kids up? Isn’t using children for political purpose child abuse?
I thought so.
Anyway, in addition to being unconstitutional and expensive to defend, this bill has two problems.
First, good luck on trying to take anything from the federal government. It was here first, it is very big, Utah is very small, and the fed has a rather large army. Gov. Herbert technically commands the Utah National Guard but his credentials as a real estate agent in his former life aren’t exactly West Point.
Just an aside: The whole “state’s rights” thing was settled by that same Army during the Civil War when another group of states, unhappy with what they saw as the federal government bossing them around, tried to tell the federal government to shove it.
Which brings us to that second point. Notice how Herbert used to be a real estate agent?
A lot of other members of our legislature — Kevin Garn anyone? — have careers either as developers or as businessmen who sell stuff to developers. They get a lot of campaign donations from contractors who build stuff for developers. And of course new development needs roads, lots of roads.
So, when these yahoos talk about taking “Our” land from the feds, they are not really taking it back to give to you and me, ordinary citizen joes of Utah. They’re talking about taking it to sell/lease/give or otherwise convey to developers just like them, if not exactly like them because it is them, good hardy Utah folk who will build stuff on it and make money for themselves.
We may make some taxes out of it, but given how often local entities use tax anticipation notes to siphon off new taxes to pay for development or induce developers to come to town, don’t bet on it.
Meanwhile, that land, right now, belongs to you and me. We own the federal government, we ARE the federal government, and the vast majority of that land managed by the BLM, the Forest Service, the Park Service and others, is ours.
And we do use it. So do others, to our benefit, sometimes in obscene ways. Did you know Snowbasin, last year, paid a pathetic $134,000 to the federal government for the use of all that public land it uses at Snowbasin? I checked and, yup, that’s it. Pretty cheap rent.
But because the land is public, you can use the mountain for free: The trails the trees, the parking lot, even. Snowbasin charges you to use its lifts and gondolas, but if you care to hike to the top, you can ski down for free.
If Utah takes that land and turns it over to Snowbasin for “proper management,” want to bet how long your free access will last?
Then there’s the whole question of Utah using eminent domain to take land just because it wants it. As I’ve said before, Utah’s Legislature doesn’t really believe in smaller government. All it believes in is a smaller FEDERAL government.
It would love to see the STATE OF UTAH’s government get a whole lot bigger, and more powerful. The legislators showed that when they tried to make miscarriages illegal, and when they’ve tried to make abortions illegal, and when they’ve tried to micromanage drinking and legislate just about every aspect of private life that just doesn’t happen to meet their moral or religious code.
And then they sit around and talk about freedom.