June 2017 Interim Session Update – Federalism

Commission on Federalism – 6/21

Well, the work of saving the republic progresses. At least, that’s what I think the Commission on Federalism believes it’s attempting to do. Although, the days without Ivory getting some pushback on his grandiose visions might be at an end, but more on that later.

Update on Federalism Conference

Representative Ivory really wants to have an interstate conference here in Utah sometime next year in order to bring all the states together to talk about how horrible the federal government is. Well, the topic would actually be federalism but in this case, it’s the same thing.

Since last month, Ivory has reached out to several legislators from other states to explore the idea of having this conference. In his words, the other states are very excited. One of those states is Wisconsin which has a Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee that does similar work to this commission. He invited Rep. Vorpagel, the chair of Wisconsin’s committee to talk with the committee.

Rep. Vorpagel told the committee that he has been talking with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to put together a meeting of state legislators to explore federalism issues and the idea of having a conference on the topic. Those discussions have led to a meeting that will be held as part of NCSL with the chairs of the 18 state commissions on federalism to talk about the issues their various states are facing. Furthermore, Vorpagel and Ivory are still trying to put together an informal dinner of sorts (funded by Hughes and Neiderhauser) to invite everyone to participate in a 2018 federalism conference.

So, that’s happening. Put summer 2018 on your calendars because it’s likely that we will be in the middle of significant discussions on federalism around this time next year.

There was a little bit of discussion among the commission about what such a conference would look like. Ivory wants to bring in experts and legislators from other states to discuss limits, divisions, and independent checks. Basically, where are the limits on the federal government and how can the states have more power. He wants to coordinate with NCSL, the Council of State Government, and the American Legislative Exchange Council and similar groups to put the conference on.

And here is where the pushback began. Senator Mayne, a recent addition to the commission, said that if you really want to know where the line of federalism principles lies, they need to invite people and organizations from both sides of the aisle, not just people from the “same thread” (presumably referring to the conservative-minded organizations of which Ivory is a part and communicates with frequently). Well, we finally have someone willing to stand up to Ivory a bit.

Ivory, first saying that he has named off a cross-section of people and organizations (really?) then said that the purpose of this conference would be to look at jurisdiction, rather than issues.  Nobody really knew what this meant, but luckily Rep. Christofferson clarified for everyone: the conference wouldn’t be looking at specifics or policy issues, but rather would look instead at who’s issue it is.

Ivory, clarifying himself, said that we are always talking about whether the federal government did something right or wrong, rather than whether they should be doing it at all. He said this is something that people of all ideological persuasions should be able to support and so he wasn’t leaning left or right, but rather discussing principles that everyone supports.

Arguable, but it sounds nice and he definitely believes it’s true.

Update on Letters to Federal Agencies and Congress

During the last commission meeting, staff was tasked with drafting a letter template that would be sent to federal agencies telling them what they were doing wrong as well as another letter template that would be sent to Utah’s Congressional delegation asking them to help tell the federal agencies what they are doing wrong. Although pretty boring and dry, those letters have now been drafted and you can read them at these links:

Staff is now going to draft a third letter inviting other state commissions to join with them when they send letters. Basically, “we’ve decided to pick a fight with the federal government, and you should too!” At the next meeting in July, the commission is expected to pick the issue for their first letter and send it off to the federal agency, hoping to get a response before the September NCSL meeting so they can show off what they’re doing to other states.

Other Stuff

  • They’re going to have a website up soon.
  • Ivory really wants to start a “federalism scholarship program” where students would write essays on federalism and the commission would judge them, giving the winner a scholarship. This seems to be another prong of the “let’s indoctrinate them while they’re young” side of the commission’s strategy. With the blessing of President Neiderhauser, Ivory is going to start reaching out to 501(c)(3) nonprofits he believes would like to team up with the commission to get this started.
  • Rep. Snow is going to reach out to the Utah State Bar to see if they would like to start doing CLE programs using the propaganda videos — oops, I meant curriculum videos — the commission previously made. As a lawyer who has to get CLE credits each year and who has previously seen these videos, I’d encourage you to find another way to waste three hours.

And that’s about it! Hopefully you enjoy my views on this rather thrilling commission. And if you don’t agree with me, perhaps you could come join me at the next commission meeting. It’s on July 26 at 4:00 pm. See you there!

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