And the constitutional note on HB114 – the official opinion of legislative attorneys about how a bill may violate the Constitution and various court rulings – is longer than HB114 is itself.
Freshman Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, believes his bill is constitutional. And that the Legislature needs to stand up and declare, as his bill does, “that the regulation of firearms is reserved completely to the state and provides penalties for the prosecution of anyone attempting to enforce federal laws to the contrary.”
But HB114 is clearly a lawsuit, or many lawsuits, waiting to happen.
It also says that the state will defend anyone, like a police officer, who is sued for not enforcing federal gun laws.
It does not yet have a fiscal note – which states how much a bill will cost the state and/or local governments. That will come in a few days, after the Legislative Fiscal Analyst examines the bill.
But the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel has put on a lengthy constitutional note.
You can read HB114 here. The constitutional note is at the end of the bill itself.
HB114 does a number of things, including:
-- Only Utah has the sole power over gun regulation, sales and such within the state.
-- Any federal officer who tries to enforce a federal law here is guilty of a 3rd degree felony.
-- Federal agencies can’t deputize any Utahn or local officer to impose federal gun laws.
-- Any personal information or gun information required by the federal government concerning guns is unenforceable in Utah.
-- The Utah attorney general will set up programs to defend any local law officer or citizen who is charged by federal officials for following, or obeying, HB114.
There is a long list of reasons why HB114 is unconstitutional and would be unenforceable, legislative attorneys say in their constitutional note.
Foremost: “Under existing standards of jurisprudence, and particularly the United States Supreme Court case of Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (U.S. 1803), the United States Supreme Court has the final say on the meaning and interpretation of provisions of the United States Constitution.”
So, the Utah Legislature may believe it can interpret and or define the U.S. Constitution, but in fact it can’t, says legislative attorneys.
In a House GOP caucus Tuesday, leaders warned their new, enlarged 61-member caucus not to waste time on so-called “message” bills – some of which may be important but with all the bills filed this session time taken on “message” bills that won’t pass the Senate, or won’t become law in any case, other bills that actually change state law and do something may be sacrificed.
Now we’ll all see how far HB114 goes in the legislative process and how much legislative floor and committee time it takes up.