The Utah legislature is considering a bill asserting State Sovereignty during this session and the legislation recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.

The vote tally was 10-0 with 3 abstaining.

H.B.141 …”reaffirms state sovereignty and reserves all rights and claims, including set-off, for damages, losses, costs, and expenses incurred but not fully reimbursed against any amounts that the state owes the federal government.”

This bill:

  1. reaffirms the state’s sovereign rights as outlined in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States of America;
  2. provides that the state is relieved of all liability for the payment of funds owed to the federal government for which the state exercises its rights of set-off.

Rep. LaVar Christensen (R – District: 48) sponsors the Utah bill.

This bill, by asserting Utah Sovereignty and rights as established in the Ninth and Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, lays out the understanding of the Founders that the Federal government is the agent of the states and not the other way around.

The separation powers is not just  the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial at the  federal level it is also the separation of powers between the several states  and the federal government, best stated in The Federalist No. 51.

“In the  compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first  divided between two distinct governments, and then the  portion allotted to each  subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a double security  arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each  other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.”

Other evidence supporting the founders’ belief that  the states and general government (federal) were on equal footing, each sovereign in its particular sphere, can be found in the following statements regarding  the function and powers  of the states:

  1. Be the ‘sure guardians of the people’s  liberty (James Madison).
  2. Prevent the federal government from  overpassing their constitutional limits (Alexander Hamilton).
  3. Erect barriers at the constitutional line as  cannot be surmounted either by themselves or by the General Government (Thomas
  4. Jealously and closely watch the [federal] government, and be able to resist . . . every assumption of power, [better] than any other power on earth can do. (James Madison).

This bill reasserts state  sovereignty and seeks reimbursement for actions the state takes on behalf of the federal government. It also asserts the state’s right to reclaim public  lands held by the federal government, or to be reimbursed for those lands.

Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution states the United States shall exercise authority:

… over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which  the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards,  and other needful buildings.” (Emphasis added)

All lands held by the federal government at the time the Territory of Utah  became a state should have been turned over to the state since the Constitution  clearly states that lands cannot be taken without consent and payment, and for  only specific purposes.

In passing out of committee, the bill received amendments which lessened its strength, but still held its core principles. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, accepted the deletion of language asserting the state would expect a credit from the federal government for losses or costs incurred.

“I don’t want us as staring down, or backing down,” Christensen said, promising the state would assert itself judiciously. “We’ll be cautious. It’ll be something we don’t do recklessly.”

To see the TAC Tenth Amendment  Commission model legislation, click HERE.

Visit the TACs legislative  tracking page HERE

William Kennedy

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



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