Here are some of the highlights from the Bill that the Utah Legislature passed this past season, in VIOLATION TO SJR11 (rejects United Nations Agenda 21, both its intent and its potential for abuse; urges Utah’s state agencies and political subdivisions to not adopt or implement policy recommendations that deliberately or inadvertently infringe or restrict private property rights without due process.) – ANNOUNCING A NEW LAND CZAR in Utah, or as Constitutional expert and VP running mate Scott Bradley Ph.D. put it:
“I have a concern that this creates the Division of Land Management. Sounds notoriously like the Bureau of Land Management, you change the B to a D. I see this as being a ‘mini-me’ kinda thing. Where the BLM oversight is being transferred to the state. That’s nice that we have it closer to the state. But honestly the state takes ownership and control of all federal lands, it has the power to create all regulations according to this bill, pertaining to this land, it establishes fees, for access use of land. And it has the power to create an independent policing agency…”
“It has the power to enforce the regulations in the land, the power to adjudicate things that come up in question, an internal court system if you will, and all these things violate the separation of powers that have been americanist from the very beginning of this country… “
“…and the power to transfer any land is withheld until approved, so really in short it does create an all powerful Utah czar of lands and I’m very concerned that so many of the abuses that historically have been under the BLM will now just be perpetrated by the DLM”.
Utah Officials insist that if you don’t go along willingly to their plans to appoint a new Utah Land Czar that you’re an anarchist:
· Line 127-128: (4) “Director” means the director of the Division of Land Management or the director’s designee.”
o This is very alarming, where throughout the Bill it references the “director” but here in the Bills definition we find that this is not “an individual” but may but whomever the director appoints as the “designee”.
· Line 871-873: (1) Upon the requirements described in Subsection 79-6-102(2) being fulfilled the executive director of the Department of Natural Resources shall appoint a director of the Division of Land Management, and thereafter hire personnel to staff the division.
o It is now laid out in black and white, that the director is not appointed by the people for the people, but is simply a bureaucrat that reports to the speaker of the House of Representatives (l.246-247). The Public Lands discussion is not one that a single individual should wield absolute power. Lines 247-248 show clearly the situation(s) in which such “report” shall be necessary as 1) affecting more than two years, OR 2) affecting more than 1,000 acres. So, in the event that the discretion of the director affects a large quantity of land for 23 months, there would be NO report. And where it may affect land less than 1,000 acres (independent of the time) there would be no reporting.
· Line after line legislate new absolute power to the director, and sets this position up as “judge”, “jury”, and “executioner”
o Shall have the power to write the rules (l.252; 341-343; 481-486; 516; 532; 746; 753-755),
o Shall have the power judge/enforce the rules (l. 302-303; 313-314; 324; 327; 353-360; 369-370; 634)
o Shall have the power to pass judgment when a rule is broken (l. 534-540; 551-552; 574-576; 587; 786).
o This is unchecked power. This is tyranny. And worse, this is tyranny with zero public checks and balances. The notion that this is an extension of the Governors Cabinet fails to separate these powers, or reduce the reality of what the legislation clearly defines as law.
· This bill enacts rules that are far worse than those of the Federal BLM (which are terrible) on land use “above ground” (grazing, fishing, hunting, etc) but removes many of the rules and regulations on any “below ground” (Natural gas, oil, mining, etc) activities. Overall, it becomes very evident that this is simply regurgitated DNR and BML statues, which are broken, not working, and NOT what the people of the State of Utah desire. I agree that we need a solution, but basing the solution on the broken framework of DNR and BLM operations is only putting us further away from what we need.
o Line 634 – “that the director considers necessary”, and can grant a right-of-way with no oversight. This combined with line 406 “money voluntarily donated…” effectively provides for corruption, fraud, and outright bribery of the director to grant such right-of-ways to the highest bidder.
o The rancher comes out a HUGE loser with HB276
§ No protection of local law enforcement (county sheriff). Lines 353-358 show that the “DLM certified peace officers that, if and when deployed will be the primary law enforcement authority”… “Division of Wildlife Resources are the primary law enforcement authority”…
· Stripping our sheriff’s of authority is NOT what we want. Local control, and those officers duly elected by the people is where law enforcement needs to reside and stay.
§ The bill admits that the “public land is deteriorating in quality due to federal mismanagement” (l. 510) and will “establish a fee” (l. 516). This fee is NOT further defined other than “equitable” to the state and the state’s citizens and holders of grazing permits” (l.518-519), which cannot be trusted to keep fees at current rates, and provides no oversight but remains at the sole discretion of the director as to whatever increases in the “fees” may result.
§ Changes to the Land leases
· Now 5 years instead of the 10 given by BLM (l. 532)
· Director can cancel to “protect from overutilization” (l. 534-540)
· Director can cancel if “public lands are sufficient to support continued livestock grazing, as determined by the director…”(l. 551-552)
· Director “shall specify the number of animals to be grazed and the seasons of use and may reexamine the conditions of the range and forage utilization at any time” (l.575-576)
· Reasonable compensation when a permit is cancelled is “to be determined by the director” (l. 584-587)
o Those that enjoy casual use, camping, fishing, hunting or other activities on public lands (l. 286-289) are now subject to the director possessing the authority to close public land “for reasons of public safety, administration, or compliance with provisions of applicable law” (l 302-303).
§ Any 4×4 enthusiast, camper, hunter, fishing, or casual use user of the land should be concerned over the fact the an unelected bureaucrat may determine such closures based on nothing more than his or her own reasons.
· The creation of an 11 person Advisory Board (l. 885-903) is concerning that their role as advisors is not defined. Their power or influence over the director is not mentioned. But we are told that 10 of the 11 are appointed by the governor (again, no accountability to the people). Their role seems more of additional smoke and mirrors to help the people feel warm and fuzzy about their “quarterly meetings” (l. 916), but offer no real authority, where everything rests exclusively with the director.
· The Bill also contains a litany of phrases, conclusions, and provisions that go against SJR11. Lines 13-30 of SJR show very clearly and specifically lines 18-20 which state:
“Urges Utah’s state agencies and political subdivisions to not adopt or develop
environmental and developmental policies that, without due process, would infringe or restrict the private property rights of property owners;”
This is important as HB 276 contains the following:
§ Line 540 – (ii) to protect rangeland health from overutilization
§ Line 765 – otherwise protect the environment
§ Line 768-769 – …environmental protection…
§ Line 800-801 – necessary to protect public health or safety or the environment…
Action is needed. This bill should have never been passed, and the fact that the sponsor of the Bill is on record stating that he would still like public input, and debate, and discussion to iron out the framework is not the answer. This bill is taking us in the wrong direction, and one of my favorite quotes states clearly:
“It doesn’t matter how hard you row the boat, if the boat is headed in the wrong direction”. We need to get the boat headed in the right direction, and HB 276 needs to be overturned. Please call your representative and demand repeal and nullification to return control to the People. We don’t want a Utah King.