Utah lawmakers voted Wednesday to repeal legislation that would have restricted the authority of federal law enforcement officers on public lands.
When it was originally passed by the legislature, House Bill 155 would restricted the authority of federal officers from the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies and would not allow them to enforce state or local laws in Utah. A federal court issued an injunction to stop the law’s implementation. On Wednesday, Utah lawmakers voted to completely repeal the legislation. Republican Representative Mike Noel, the bill’s original sponsor, said this version never struck a balance between federal and state authorities
“One of the main intentions of the bill was to not recognize the authority of federal land management officials if they tried to invoke the Federal Assimilative Crimes Act, 18 United States Code Section 13 to enforce and prosecute citizens under state law and local laws and ordinances,” said Noel.
Democratic Representative Brian King vented his frustration over the process on the House floor saying the bill should not have been passed in the first place.
“I’d like to think that we will learn something from this and I question whether we will. So I’m voting in favor of this bill, but I don’t like the process. I don’t like how this has come to us. And if it weren’t for the fact that I voted against it to begin with, I would not be voting in favor of this bill,” said King.
The repeal passed unanimously in the House and by a vote of 24-3 in the Senate. Representative Noel indicated he’s drafting a new bill he plans to present during the next session.