SALT LAKE CITY — Utah House members are expected to debate a resolution Tuesday calling on the Trump administration to rescind the creation of the Bear Ears National Monument.
But minority Democrats cried foul Monday, arguing that HCR11 and HCR12, a resolution seeking congressional support to reduce the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, should be sent to a House committee for public comment before going to the floor.
The House Rules Committee last week voted to send the legislation straight to the House floor. The committee decides which bills move forward and which do not.
Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, who heads the committee, said the state's congressional delegation — all Republicans — wants lawmakers to move quickly to get the issue before President Donald Trump.
The contention led to a spirited debate about legislative rules that the Democrats ultimately lost. The GOP-controlled House voted 55-17 to let the resolutions go to the floor.
House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said the divisive issue deserves a public hearing. He said a majority of Utahns want the Bears Ears National Monument.
"We need to hear from them," King said.
Noel said the Rules Committee meeting provided that chance. House Republicans also said they expect a Senate committee to hold a hearing.
"(Tuesday), let's do our job as members of the Legislature and debate this issue on the floor," House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, told lawmakers.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said he plans to send the resolutions to a committee for a hearing, likely the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee.
“We don’t plan on changing any process,” Niederhauser said. “It’s just our standard procedure. I don’t see any reason to change it.”
Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said “it was kind of strange” to hear complaints about legislation being heard in a public committee when the monument was declared by then-President Barack Obama shortly before he left office. Adams said the last-minute action taken by the president on something so significant was “absolutely wrong.”
Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, said as long as the resolutions follow the usual process and are "not railroaded,” he is satisfied.
“As long as the public has the input on it in the committee, that’s what really matters," Davis said.
Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche