By Chris Larson
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY – Members of the Cowboy Rural Caucus have heard mixed opinions on daylight savings and federal lands transfers this session.
Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, spoke to the rural caucus regarding HB178, a bill geared towards ditching daylight savings and keeping Utah on Mountain Standard Time year-round. Perry is proposing that Utah join Arizona in the MST zone without daylight savings based on survey data from his district. According to Perry, 68 percent of respondents want to align with Arizona, while 17 percent want a different schedule and 15 percent want to keep daylight savings. The survey did not identify any specific demographic that was in favor or opposition to any of the options.
Perry also cited an unnamed article suggesting that daylight savings was a cause of increased cardiac arrest. Several legislators vocalized their skepticism of the article’s legitimacy, and said they have received mixed opinions on the time change issue.
“Plants and animals don’t know what time it is, but [for] the farmer or rancher who cultivates and nurtures that plant or animal, time is a big business.” said Sterling Brown, vice president of Public Policy for the Utah Farm Bureau. “Under the current system it does maximize daylight saving, both in the morning hours and the evening hours. For that primary reason is why Utah farmers and ranchers, and the Utah Farm Bureau, have taken the position to stay the course where we are today.”
Perry also introduced the caucus to his bill regarding agricultural tourism. HB102 would help remove liability from farmers regarding those who are injured by inherent risks while visiting Utah farms. “If someone comes to your farm and touches an animal and has an allergic reaction or those things you can’t control, you shouldn’t be held liable for that,” Perry said.
Rep. Steve Elaison, R-Sandy, then addressed the caucus regarding the transfer of the federal lands to the state. Elaison specifically called attention to the Recreation and Public Purchases Act, a federal law passed by Congress in 1954 that allows for a process of transfer of lands for a recreational or other public purpose.
Eliason listed some of the state’s most popular lands, which were acquired through the RPP, include Bear Lake, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, and Goblin Valley. He specifically solicited support for his bills, HB223 and HB225, which would require the Utah Department of Natural Resources to create a state park in the San Rafael Swell, expand Goblin State Park, and transfer the Little Sahara Recreation Area to the State of Utah under Recreation and Public Purchases Act.
Other objectives from Eliason’s bills would be the update and improvement of facilities on those lands, and allowance for the University of Utah to build a helicopter pad in the Little Sahara Recreation Area. Specific funds for the improvements of these lands had not been specified in a fiscal note, but Eliason said that the bills would have a positive impact on the state budget.
Eliason reminded the caucus of the President’s national-monument-creating power and said if the President designates a national monument it is “game over” for state control.
Sen. Dave Hinkins, R-Orangeville, reminded the caucus that Utah already has a plan in motion to get control of federal lands through the Utah delegation, Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz. He expressed fear that this could short circuit a deal to get Congress to sell the lands wholesale.
Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, verbalized his resentment for the federal government’s actions in handling the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. He reminded the caucus that assurances by the federal government were not maintained, including the use of the land for grazing, and the building of roads through the area.
“This is an opportunity to step out and say that we can control our land. It may not be all of it, but when we in Utah say we are going to do things … we’re going to do it,” Noel said.