‘The Rundown’: Utah lawmakers spoiling for a fight with the feds

Your Thursday morning Utah political cheat sheet

"The Rundown" logo

Good Thursday, morning Utah!

Thanks for reading “The Rundown”.

📬 Talk to me! Have a news tip? Some interesting political gossip? Just want to chat about politics? Send me an email or find me on Twitter @SchottHappens.

Get this newsletter delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. Sign up for free here.

Utah vs. the feds

Could Utah buck the federal government and refuse to enforce some federal laws? That’s the question the state’s GOP-controlled legislature wants to explore.

It’s not an understatement to say many Republican legislators are spoiling for a fight with the federal government. Just this week, Republican lawmakers pushed hard for Gov. Spencer Cox to add a bill making the state a “Second Amendment sanctuary” on the agenda for the upcoming special session. The proposal could have made it official policy for the state to ignore new federal gun legislation or executive actions. Cox declined the request.

“I think one of the reasons we are looking at this is because there is great concern among the people of Utah regarding some of the rhetoric and actions that are being threatened or taken at the federal level that seems to come and infringe upon our constitutional rights as Americans and Utah citizens,” said Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi.

It’s almost impossible for a state to declare a federal law invalid. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution says laws passed by Congress are the supreme law of the land and trump anything passed by individual states. But, Utah lawmakers point to the 10th Amendment, which grants states powers not given to federal government via the Constitution.

But, instead of going toe-to-toe with the feds, Utah could simply refuse to enforce those laws. Other states are looking at doing something similar. For instance, Alabama lawmakers are considering two bills to block the enforcement or use of public funds to implement new federal gun laws or executive actions. Arkansas passed legislation preventing the feds from regulating guns and ammunition within the state’s borders.

That tactic might have some impact, but it won’t shield Utah citizens from repercussions if they violate federal law.

Lawmakers also discussed how the federal government often incentivizes compliance with new laws with federal funds. For example, Congress passed a law raising the federal drinking age to 21 in 1984. States were threatened with a reduction in highway funding if they didn’t fall in line.

“The question is, do we just say that’s how it is and shrug or do we want to spend some time looking at the issue?” said Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City. “Maybe we can come up with something that other states haven’t tried.”

Here’s what you need to know for Thursday morning

Local news

  • Utah’s members of Congress split on the vote to form a commission to investigate the 1/6 attack on the Capitol. Reps. John Curtis and Blake Moore voted in favor of the investigation while Reps. Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens voted against [Tribune].

  • Utah Democrats walked off the House floor Wednesday as Republicans prepared to debate a resolution against the teaching of critical race theory [Tribune].

  • House and Senate Republicans approved a resolution to make Utah a Second Amendment sanctuary [Tribune].

  • Legislators approved a plan to spend $1.6 billion in federal coronavirus relief money, including money for water projects and scholarships for Utah college students [Tribune].

  • Legislators approved a bill banning schools from requiring masks starting this fall [Tribune].

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ largest investment fund made dramatic gains, erasing pandemic-related losses, growing by $2.4 billion in the first part of this year. That included a 907% gain on GameStop stock [Tribune].

National news

  • 35 Republicans in the House joined Democrats to vote in favor of an independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection [CNN].

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to the independent January 6 commission likely means the effort is doomed in the Senate [Politico].

  • You may need to get a COVID-19 booster shot within a year to maintain immunity. There may also be a push for boosters targeting variants of the virus [CNN].

  • Israel and Hamas are nearing a cease-fire as several nations are pressuring them to end their military conflict [WSJ].

  • The New York Attorney General has been investigating the taxes of the CFO of the Trump organization for months [CNN].

  • Politicians in both parties may be breaking the law with those spammy “5x match” fundraising emails flooding inboxes [Insider].

  • Cryptocurrency continued to take a beating declining sharply in value [WSJ].

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bans into law [Texas Tribune].

Thursday’s Utah news roundup


  • Salt Lake Bees to open Smith’s Ballpark to full capacity [Tribune].

  • Busker Fest returns for Memorial Day weekend, timed with the closure of downtown SLC streets [Tribune].

  • Utah rabbi who was sexually abused leads sensitivity training for defense attorneys [Tribune].

  • Why police officials, reform advocates agree there is more work to be done [Deseret News].

  • Black educators who’ve studied critical race theory say public misinformed about its role [KUTV].

  • FBI says Chinese Communist Party poses counterintelligence threats in Utah [Fox 13].


  • Utah reports 430 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths [Tribune].

  • ‘Nice to just be a doctor again’: Healthcare workers rejoice as COVID hospitalizations in Utah trend downward [ABC4].

  • UVU to stop requiring masks on Monday [Daily Herald].

Local government

  • Ogden looking to complete another big runway project at municipal airport [Standard-Examiner].

  • Summit County Democrats have nominated a former judge to be the next county clerk [Park Record].

  • Willard City imposes fire, fireworks restrictions [Box Elder News Journal].

  • Logan council tables proposal for new fire station on Federal Ave. to gather more info [Herald Journal].

On the opinion pages

  • Robert Gehrke: The hysteria has taken hold, as Utah lawmakers will vote to oppose ‘critical race theory’ — which isn’t even taught in schools [Tribune].

  • Urban Utah needs more happy trails [Tribune].

  • Malin Moench: Blue skies beckon if we don’t block the way [Tribune].

  • Sen. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch: Botching criminal justice reform comes at a steep cost [Deseret News].