Thursday, April 24, 2014

Will The Center Hold, April, 2014, Part 2: Taking back Western Lands, Forcing A Balanced Washington Budget, and Georgia Protects the Second Amendment

Yesterday was the first in a series of posts that will update the status of state governments and citizens pushing back on an overreaching and increasing ineffective and wasteful Federal government. The issues involved are wide ranging and include, but are not limited to, gun rights, education control and tenets, Obama Care, and others.

The questions we have posed in light of these unprecedented push backs and resistance include: 1) What if Washington passed a law that few of the states and citizens actually obeyed and 2) if no one obeys Washington's dictates, does the center hold or does the union dissolve into separate government entities with little or no connection to a Federal government? Interesting questions arising from an unprecedented time in our country's history, the uprising of state government and state citizens against an overreaching and increasingly intrusive set of Washington laws and politicians.

1) Today we start off with push back that we have not discussed before in this series, namely the desire of many western states and their citizens to get the Federal government out of the land ownership business within their states. In many western states, the Federal government owns and controls a large amount of state land or in some cases, the majority of state lands.

This has caused a number of conflicts and sore points over the years as a result of the Federal government's large and imposing presence and influence within a state. Local citizens and governments feel, often rightfully so, that a faraway Federal bureaucracy does not have their best interests as a priority when establishing national laws.

This was vividly illustrated by a Salt Lake Tribune article from April 14, 2014. The article summarized a recent meeting held by local and state officials and politicians in Utah that was convened to discuss and find ways to reduce the Federal footprint of land ownership and governance within their state borders. In other words, how could the states take over stewardship of Federal lands and hopefully do a better job ecologically, economically, and administratively than the historic ineptness of the Feds. 

Highlights of the meeting, as described by the Tribune, include the following:

  • More than 50 political leaders from nine states convened for the first time to talk about their joint goal, taking control of oil, timber and mineral-rich lands away from the Federal government.
  • Utah Representative Ken Ivory, who organized the Legislative Summit on the Transfer for Public Lands along with Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder stated:"It’s simply time. The urgency is now.
  • New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington also were represented.
  • The article points out that this meeting was scheduled long before this month’s tense standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Federal Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing: "What’s happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem," an attendee and organizer said.
  • Fielder, self described as "just a person who lives in the woods," said Federal land management is hamstrung by bad policies, politicized science and severe Federal budget cuts: "Those of us who live in the rural areas know how to take care of lands. We have to start managing these lands. It’s the right thing to do for our people, for our environment, for our economy and for our freedoms."
  • Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke claimed Idaho forests and land managed by the state have suffered less damage and watershed degradation from wildfire than lands managed by Federal agencies: "It’s time the states in the West come of age. We’re every bit as capable of managing the lands in our boundaries as the states east of Colorado."
  • Attendees made the case that they see oilfields and other resources that could be developed to create jobs and fund education.
  • The skyrocketing national debt was also seen as a reason to let the states have control of the lands to develop them since the Federal government’s debt threatens both its management of vast tracts of the West as well as its ability to come through with payments in lieu of taxes to the states. In other words, the states want to control their fates and no longer be dependent on the ability of the Federal government to pay for use of the lands, a probably wise position to take: "If we don’t stand up and act, seeing that trajectory of what’s coming … those problems are going to get bigger." 
  • To be clear, the agreed to intent is not to take over those lands designated as national parks and wilderness created by acts of Congress Lockhart said: "We are not interested in having control of every acre. There are lands that are off the table that rightly have been designated by the Federal government."

Interesting times that for the first time ever there is such a widespread effort at the state and local effort underway to wrest control of major pieces of U.S. land away from the bureaucrats in Washington. Unheard of in the past. 

A push back on a major scale against a Federal government who has mismanaged the lands, possibly sub-optimized the lands for their economic value, and given the recent military type operation against Cliven Bundy in south Nevada, have become too heavy handed in dictating what happens locally throughout the west. Will the center hold if the states merely assert their control over the land where they live, ignoring the control the Federal government has asserted over the centuries?

2) The Washington Times recently reported that the state of Michigan became the 19th state to officially call for a convention of the states under Article V of the Constitution, specifically and only for the purpose of forcing the Federal government and the Washington political class to enact and abide by a balanced budget every year. 

Thus, almost 40% of the states have stated that the current operation of the Federal government and its wasteful budgeting processes need to be corrected and the states will take the initiative in doing so since the politicians in Washington have proven they are incapable of doing so. This action is a little different than the other push backs that the states and its citizens have taken where they are simply looking for ways to nullify or ignore Federal mandates and laws, be they in the areas of Obama Care, gun control, Common Core, etc.

In this case, the states and citizens are telling the Federal government to get its budget house in order and if the Feds do not do it, then the states will do it for them through a Constitutional mechanism. This is not a push back against an overreaching Federal government, this is a push back against an incompetent Federal government.

3) In late March, 2014, the Georgia legislature voted in overwhelming manner to protect the Second Amendment rights of Georgia citizens to possess and carry firearms. This is just another state that is preparing to ignore or nullify any potential gun control or seizure laws that come out of Washington.

The main tenets of the legislation include the following:

•Remove fingerprinting for renewal of Weapons Carry Licenses (WCL).

•Prohibit the state from creating and maintaining a database of WCL holders.
•Create an absolute defense for the legal use of deadly force in the face of a violent attack.
•Remove of the sweeping restrictions on legally carrying a firearm with a WCL in churches and bars, leaving this decision to private property owners.
•Lower the age to obtain a concealed WCL for self-defense from 21 to 18 for active duty military, with specific training.
•Repeal the unnecessary and redundant state-required license for a firearms dealer, instead requiring only a Federal Firearms License (FFL).
•Prohibit a ban on firearms in public housing, ensuring that the right to self-defense should not be infringed based on where one calls home.
•Codify the ability to legally carry, with a WCL, in sterile/non-secure areas of airports.
•Include a provision that would have the state report those persons who have been involuntarily hospitalized or have been adjudicated mentally deficient while also providing an ability for relief through an application process to the court system for the purpose of restoration of rights.
•Under a declared state of emergency, all law-abiding gun owners will not have their Second Amendment rights restricted or infringed by executive authority through Emergency Powers protection.

Another state expressing its state rights under the Constitution to protect and do what is best for its citizens, regardless of what Washington and the Federal government want or do.

Will the center hold when many states and their governments and citizens demand that they be in charge of the land that is local to them but far away from the Washington bureaucracy? Will the center hold when the states demand that the Federal government gets is budgeting and financial house in order or the states step in to force them to do it? Will the center hold when state gun control freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution and state law are in conflict with Federal and Washington political class gun laws?

Interesting....and dangerous times we live in, especially if the center does not hold and a revolution against inept Federal government behavior, bureaucracies, and politicians ever gain enough momentum. Stay tuned.

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