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House GOP Bypasses Standard Committee Hearing On Bears Ears, Grand Staircase Resolutions

The Bears Ears in San Juan County, Utah.

Utah’s Republican-controlled House voted to fast-track two resolutions Monday that ask President Donald Trump to rescind one national monument designation and shrink the size of another.

House Republicans voted over Democrats’ objections to skip a standing committee hearing that usually considers bills related to natural resources and move straight to a vote on the House floor. House Concurrent Resolutions 12 and 11 call on President Trump to rescind the new Bears Ears National Monument and reduce the size of Grand Staircase National Monument. Republican Representative Mike Noel says state lawmakers are getting pressure from Utah’s Congressional Delegation to move quickly.

“They specifically have asked us to run these bills as soon as possible so that we can get them to our new president and we can have action upon them,” Noel says.

House Democrats motioned to send the resolutions to a standing committee, but that motion failed. Democratic State Representative Brian King says he doesn’t think the House was properly complying with the rules of process by skipping the committee hearing.

“That’s important for this reason; we need to give the public an opportunity to be heard by us on this issue,” King says.”

Republicans argued the resolutions did get a public hearing Friday, during a meeting of the House Rules Committee. But that committee typically handles procedural actions with little input from the public.

Republican Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says he does not plan to bypass a committee hearing in the Senate.

But Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams told reporters that the action is not unusual and he criticized President Obama for designating the Bear Ears Monument at the end of last year.

“The president did this at the end of his administration, the last moment with a stroke of a pen,” Adams says. “And I think there’s a lot of people that feel that process was the improper process.”

Both non-binding resolutions are now scheduled for a vote on the House floor Tuesday- and are likely to pass.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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