Local elected leaders are catching the nullification fever and are joining with state lawmakers to force the federal beast back into its constitutional cage. One of these sovereignty-minded local leaders is Highland, Utah, city councilman Tim Irwin (right).
Irwin, a first-time councilman, has introduced two resolutions in support of two sovereignty-restoring laws signed over the last two years by Utah Governor Gary Herbert.
"The point is to give support to the governor to bring back sovereignty to Utah," Irwin said. "I'm getting active and concerned with the overreach of the federal government, and I'm doing my part in Highland to protect our freedoms for our grandkids."
One of the state laws supported by the measures offered by Irwin is the Transfer of Public Lands Act (TPLA).
On March 23, 2012, Governor Herbert signed the TPLA into law. In the act (HB 148), the state of Utah claims that the federal government has reneged on promises made to Utah at the time of its entry into the Union. Specifically, Utah claims that the federal government has retained over 25 million acres (almost half of the state’s total area) of land within the sovereign borders of Utah, despite commitments to return that land to the control of the state government in a timely manner. That agreement was made in 1896.
"Private land ownership has been the cornerstone for freedom in this country and economic opportunity," Herbert said at the signing ceremony. "Federal control of our land has put us at a distinct disadvantage compared to other states."
Not surprisingly, the Obama administration disagrees. An article in the Salt Lake Tribune from April 2012 quotes Interior Secretary Ken Salazar saying the signing of the law is “nothing more than a political stunt” and “political rhetoric you see in an election year.”
Despite Salazar’s assessment, Herbert and the state legislature carry on in the quest to reclaim their state’s sovereignty and plan to enforce the terms of the TPLA requiring Congress to restore title to the land in question to the Beehive State by December 31, 2014.
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Photo: Tim Irwin