Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
The Utah State Capitol, Jan. 23, 2012.

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill reaffirming Utah's sovereignty was approved Tuesday by a House committee, but not before getting amended to be less provocative toward the federal government.

"We've all heard, 'Walk softly and carry a big stick.' What we're doing is the reverse of that," House Judiciary Chairman Kay McIff, R-Richfield, said of HB141.

McIff said the bill as written poked "a sharp stick in the eye" of the federal government on issues where Utah is seeking help, such as accessing public lands or dealing with undocumented workers.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, accepted the deletion of language asserting the state would expect a credit from the federal government for losses or costs incurred.

"I don't want us as staring down, or backing down," Christensen said, promising the state would assert itself judiciously. "We'll be cautious. It'll be something we don't do recklessly."

Meanwhile, a Layton Republican is sponsoring another piece of states rights legislation under which Utah would join an interstate compact to opt out of federal medical reform. SB208 also would replace federal programs such as Medicaid and Medicare with a block grant to the states.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Stuart Adams, requested on Tuesday that the Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing on the bill be postponed until Friday to allow an out-of-state expert to attend.

Contributing: Marjorie Cortez

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