Opinion briefs: Senate race attracts a crowd . . . National monuments battle . . . federalism & minimum wage

Senate field keeps growing. The number of Republicans considering a run against Sen. Mike Lee for the GOP nomination in 2022 continues to increase. It’s very early in the cycle, and the number of Lee’s possible GOP opponents has already grown to five.

Lee is no doubt saying, “Jump on in! The more the merrier.” That’s because the moderate Republicans challenging him may split the moderate vote in the primary election, giving him an easy win. He would be in more danger if moderates coalesced around one candidate. 

The latest prospective candidate to get serious about the race is Erin Rider, a Salt Lake attorney with an MBA and law degree from Georgetown University. She grew up in the Millcreek area and lives there now, after spending time in Washington, D. C., and the Boston area.

She said she wants to stand up for “principled conservatism” and wants to focus on education and public land. She said she would bring more collaboration and transparency in Senate politics. She is talking to a lot of opinion leaders, assessing her fundraising ability, and recruiting an informal group of close advisors. She seems to be smart and driven.

Brendan Wright, a Republican from Lehi, has already announced his 2022 U.S. Senate candidacy. Rider and Wright join Ally Isom, Becky Edwards and Henry Eyring in investigating the race. Edwards has said she is “all in” and looks forward to a formal announcement in the future.

It’s quite remarkable to have six possible candidates (including Lee) this early in the 2022 election cycle. And, of course, Lee remains the favorite to win.

Time for national monument certainty. The Utah congressional delegation is making a valiant effort to prevent a gigantic public lands battle over national monument designation in Utah. Members are very politely asking the Biden administration to work with them and the rest of Congress to determine the size and disposition of the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments.

It’s a very reasonable and sensible request. Right now, those two beautiful monuments are subject to the political whims of the administration in power. Their sizes will continue to yo-yo up and down unless Congress does its duty and works with all stakeholders to create permanent monuments with permanent boundaries.

Pres. Clinton and Pres. Obama created the monuments by executive fiat without collaborative processes involving all stakeholders. Pres. Trump then greatly reduced the sizes of the monuments, again by executive order. Now the Biden administration is reviewing the monuments with the threat of expanding the boundaries. A future Republican president could then change the boundaries once again.

As requested by the Utah congressional delegation, it’s time to engage in an open, inclusive, collaborative process to provide certainty in the preservation of these national treasures.

Sensible solution: Let states impose minimum wage levels. If ever there was a public policy matter that ought to be left to the 50 states, it’s the minimum wage issue. That’s because the United States is a big, diverse country with widely varying economic conditions. It may make sense for some states and/or local governments to require a $15 minimum wage, but certainly not every state.

While imposition of the national $15 minimum wage appears to be dead for the time being, it remains a hot congressional issue. And that’s unfortunate because Congress ought not to be even wasting time on this matter. It’s clear to any sensible person that some states may want a $10 or $12 minimum wage, or something different. San Francisco and New York City might want a $20 minimum wage. On the other hand, some states may prefer to allow the free market alone to establish wages.

So why not let states and local governments set these amounts? Why set one part of the country against another part of the country when it is very simple to allow each state to do what it prefers?

About half of the partisanship and division in Washington is the result of Congress and the administration trying to impose one-size-fits-all dictates on jurisdictions that don’t want or need them. How about just letting states, within reason, take their own path on local matters that don’t impact other states?