Utah League of Cities and Towns

Making Life BETTER

Senator Mike Lee (R) – Bill Issues April 2012

Please describe a bill or an issue you are working on that directly impacts Utah’s cities and towns.

One of the most frequent problems that Utah’s cities and towns must handle is the vast amount of land owned by the federal government, roughly two thirds of all land in the state. Federal ownership prevents the land from being developed into functional parts of local communities, such as space for schools or housing, and also frequently denies access to the vast natural resources contained on and beneath the surface of the ground.

To help combat this excessive and needless overreach, I introduced the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, which would have instructed the federal government to sell off certain land in Utah that would otherwise sit idle. I have also supported the efforts of Utah’s state government to demand that Washington make good on promises made in the 1894 Enabling Act to cede much of this land back to Utah.

Additionally, I introduced specific legislation designed to grant the city of Mantua roughly 32 acres of land that had been owned by the federal government since 1941. The bill passed both the House and the Senate unanimously, and the land is now under Mantua’s control. I also introduced legislation that would allow for the transfer of land from the federal government to homeowners in Carbon County who may have inadvertently built their homes on federal property. That bill is still under consideration in the Senate.

More importantly, however, I have continuously fought to finally address an issue that is national in scale but will be felt at every level of American life. That issue is our enormous and still-growing national debt. Those who would continue to ignore it need only look at Greece to see that a government debt crisis can bring life in every city and town to a near standstill.

Our debt is the largest in the world, larger now than even our entire economy. Continuing to borrow more, especially at such a rapid pace, is a sure recipe for disaster in our near future. Without balancing our budget, we risk sudden and chaotic shutdowns of important government functions and even a currency collapse that would leave the dollar nearly worthless.

That is why I joined with Senator Hatch in introducing the Hatch-Lee Balanced Budget Amendment, and why I continue to fight for a balanced budget today. Washington must learn and learn quickly to live within its means. We cannot afford to leave a broken and bankrupt country to our children and grandchildren.

I trust that every citizen of every city and town in Utah understands the importance of this fight, and I urge all Americans to express their thoughts on this pressing issue to their representatives in Congress. We can still prevent this crisis. We need nothing more than the political will to do so.