The state's efforts to remove itself from management of the Navajo Trust Fund passed a legislative hurdle Friday, but not without some controversy.
The fund uses 37.5 percent of the oil and gas royalties from the Utah portion of the Navajo reservation for projects and scholarships. The state's management of the fund sunsets this year.
The Senate Government Operations Committee on Friday opted to allow to move to the full Senate, HCR4 and HB352, which together urge Congress to set up new management of the fund, as well as interim management.
"We are at a point in time where we feel perhaps someone else may be better suited to handle that trustee duty," said Rep. Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, sponsor of both measures.
Clark said he has the support of the Utah Navajo Commission, comprised of representatives from the Navajo chapters located on the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation.
However, Ruby Nakoli, spoke against the measures on behalf of residents of the Aneth Extension, where the oil and gas is extracted. Nakoli said residents there feared losing their voice to Navajo Nation and San Juan County officials.
"There is not one representative on the board who is from the Aneth Extension," Nakoli said. "If there was no Aneth Extension we wouldn't be talking about this."In voting to move the measures forward, Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said he wanted to make sure he understood the issue before both resolutions get to the Senate floor.