School Funding, Public Lands on Tap in Wednesday’s Special Session

Utah State Capitol 04Utah lawmakers later today in special session will restore around $5 million that GOP Gov. Gary Herbert line-item vetoed from the main 2016-2017 school finance bill.

They will also take up a resolution officially opposing President Barack Obama naming a new national monument in the Bears Ears area of southeastern Utah – an area long held as sacred by various Native American peoples.

Here is the text of the resolution, which was not made public until Tuesday evening.

It is unclear if the non-binding resolution will have any impact on Obama’s decision whether or not to create a 1.9 million acre Bears Ears National Monument before he leaves office after the first of the year.

The resolution asks Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to investigate suing the federal government and Obama should such a national monument be created.

Tuesday afternoon GOP Gov. Gary Herbert and Reps. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, and Keven Stratton, R-Orem, gathered various Native American representatives at the foot of the Capitol steps to hold a press conference opposing the creation of the monument.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has a bill pending that would swap out millions of acres of federal land in eastern and southeast Utah for state parcels, creating some wilderness areas and making the Bears Ears land a “conservation district” – with some local management and promises that Native Americans could continue using the land for sacred purposes.

But Bishop’s bill may not even pass the U.S. House before Obama leaves office, and even if did pass both the House and Senate the president could decide to veto it in preference of his own national monument designation.