SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, encouraged state lawmakers to keep challenging the federal government during his annual address to the Legislature.
"I appreciate what you are doing on the issue of lands," Bishop told members of the Utah House, referring to the state's ongoing efforts to take control of federal public lands.
He said Washington, D.C., is designed to grow the size of the federal government.
"The goal is not simply smaller government. It's limited government," Bishop said, calling for more authority to be sent back to the states. "Liberals have to realize federalism does not mean all programs are done away with."
The congressman, who once served as Utah House speaker, said there is a role for the federal government in supporting Hill Air Force Base. He said the military base is both an economic engine for the state and needed for the nation's defense.
In the Senate, Bishop also talked about public lands issues.
Responding to question about the Antiquities Act, Bishop said past presidents have abused the law and it needs to be reformed. Presidents use the 1906 law to restrict access to federal lands or create national monuments.
Bishop said presidents should have to go through the same public process other federal agencies do before changing a public lands designation.
"You can't do something and surprise people with the stroke of a pen, which has been happening with the last four or five presidents," he said.
Bishop said Congress needs to find a permanent funding source for payments to local governments known as PILT that help offset losses in property taxes on non-taxable federal lands.
"I don’t want to fight over it every year," he said.
Bishop also said he's trying to get the National Park Service to return to Utah the money it paid to run the state's national parks during the government shutdown last fall.
"It is a slush fund for them," he said. "There's no reason to keep it, no reason to have it."
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