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Federal government and state roles debated in newly formed commission

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Does the federal government tread too much on Utah's state rights?
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Does the federal government tread too much on Utah's state rights?

That's the question debated Tuesday by members of the newly created Commission on Federalism. The commission was created last legislative session to determine whether the federal government over reaches when it comes to Utah sovereignty.

“We have the most unprecedented system of government that established a partnership between two governing partners and if you can't understand the roles of both partners, things can get out of balance,” said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan. “We have a system that is out of balance.”

One issue at the front of many Utah minds is the amount of wilderness controlled by the federal government-- land some say Utah could benefit from if it had the rights to develop.

“We are actually producing more oil and gas in the United States today than we were 40 years ago,” said Congressman Rob Bishop, R-Utah. “We’re importing less, but almost all of it is coming from private lands and state lands in North Dakota. They're making a boatload of bucks for their education system.”

The boatload of bucks may flow to Utah if it had more say, but not everyone debating federalism at the Capitol Tuesday was as quick to want to take back control of protected land.

“I think we have to be very careful about taking resources that we have right now and turning them over into private hands for development without regards to not just our immediate needs, but also our children and grandchildren,” said Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City.

But Utah is moving full steam ahead demanding the federal government relinquish millions of acres of land by 2014.

It's just one of many issues the new federalism commission will be keeping an eye on.
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