Mike Lee on Trump’s short list for replacing retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday, giving President Donald Trump a golden chance to cement conservative control of the high court.

The 81-year-old Kennedy said in a statement he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the court. A Republican appointee, he has held the key vote on such high-profile issues as abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, guns, campaign finance and voting rights.

Kennedy said he had informed his colleagues and Trump of his plans and that his retirement will take effect at the end of July.

Trump praised Kennedy as a man of “tremendous vision” and said his search for a new justice would begin “immediately.”

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Here we go again. Banks, corporations holding up gun makers in Second Amendment battle

In the wake of high-profile mass shootings, corporate America has been taking a stand against the firearms industry amid a lack of action by lawmakers on gun control. Payment processing firms are limiting transactions, Bank of America stopped providing financing to companies that make AR-style guns, and retailers like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods imposed age restrictions on gun purchases.

The moves are lauded by gun-safety advocates but criticized by the gun industry that views them as a backhanded way of undermining the Second Amendment. Gun industry leaders see the backlash as a real threat to their industry and are coming to the conclusion that they need additional protections in Congress to prevent financial retaliation from banks.

“If a few banks say ‘No, we’re not going to give loans to gun dealers or gun manufacturers,’ all of a sudden the industry is threatened and the Second Amendment doesn’t mean much if there are no guns around,” said Michael Hammond, legal counsel for Gun Owners of America. “If you can’t make guns, if you can’t sell guns, the Second Amendment doesn’t mean much.”

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County Officials Propose Legislation To Expand Tortoise Habitat For Northern Corridor Route

ST. GEORGE – Congressional legislation proposed by Washington County officials that would expand protected desert tortoise habitat in exchange for a route for the highly sought-after northern corridor through the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve was the subject of an open house at the Dixie Center St. George Wednesday night.

Called the “Desert Tortoise Habitat Conservation Plan Expansion Act,” the proposed bill would add nearly 7,000 acres to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve in the area west of Bloomington and south of Santa Clara in exchange for a right-of-way for the northern corridor that state and county road planners say the region needs for future transportation needs.

“We’ve already talked to all of our (congressional) delegation about this bill,” Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson said. “We’ve talked to Congressman (Chris) Stewart who is prepared to introduce the legislation. So we’ve given it to them, and that’s the status of (the bill) right now.”

While the bill could be officially introduced in the near-future, Iverson said, county officials organized an open house to educate and get input from the public on the proposed bill. While the actual language of the draft bill was not available for review, a handout with highlights of the bill was provided at the open house.

Among those points is renewing the Habitat Conservation Plan for another 25 years. The original plan expired two years ago with local, state and federal officials working together to resolve issues that have delayed the HCP’s renewal.

Thus far the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed the HCP to continue functioning while negotiations for renewal continue.

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Zinke creates ‘Made in America’ committee for outdoor recreation

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the members of the “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee, which was established Nov. 8 to serve as an advisory board on public-private partnerships across all public lands, with the goal of expanding access to and improving infrastructure and waterways.

The committee “is made up of the private sector’s best and brightest to tackle some of our biggest public lands infrastructure and access challenges ,” Zinke said Monday in a press release. “ Dating back to the early days of the National Park Service, American businesses have been helping improve the public’s public land experience by doing everything from building iconic lodges like the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar to the historic “red jammers” in Glacier National Park.

“This committee will help build on that legacy and provide valuable insight into addressing the maintenance backlog on our public lands. The committee’s collective experience as entrepreneurs and business leaders provide unique insight that is often lost in the Federal government. As we rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, we can continue the exponential growth of the American recreation sector, which supports millions of American jobs and bares a significant impact on our economy.”

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Bipartisan bill introduced in Congress aims to fix national parks

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — The Trump administration is supporting bipartisan legislation that would take as much as $18 billion in revenue from energy produced on federal lands and waters to establish a fund specifically for national park restoration.

The bill follows the blueprint laid out in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, the public lands infrastructure fund, according to a statement Wednesday from the Interior Department.

The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Angus King, I-Maine, and in the House of Representatives by Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.

This bill fulfills one of the priorities laid out in Trump’s legislative framework for rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

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Perspectives: Justice for the Finicum family will be justice for all of us

OPINION – On the second anniversary of LaVoy Finicum’s death, I had the privilege of spending some time with his widow, Jeanette Finicum.

We spoke about our favorite memories of LaVoy and discussed the wrongful death lawsuit that Jeanette has filed against those who may bear direct or indirect responsibility in his killing. I was struck by a number of realizations as we visited.

The entire Finicum family has been on the receiving end of a monstrous injustice

First, and most importantly, the driving forces behind this lawsuit are justice and accountability for the various agencies and individuals who played a role in LaVoy Finicum’s death. The entire Finicum family has been on the receiving end of a monstrous injustice.

Rather than railing about vengeance or calling for blood, the Finicum family has consistently taken the high road over the past two years.

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More than a third of National Park Service employees harassed at work; Zinke calls for accountability, transparency

ST. GEORGE — Federal officials on Friday released the results of a survey in which 39 percent of National Park Service employees said they had experienced harassment or discrimination on the job, then vowed to take immediate action to deal with the problem.

“From day one, I made it clear that I have zero tolerance for harassment in the workplace, and I directed leadership in the National Park Service to move rapidly to improve accountability and transparency,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said. “All employees have the right to work in an environment that is safe and harassment-free.

“I’ve removed a number of people who were abusive or acted improperly that other administrations were too afraid to or just turned a blind eye to. Under my leadership, we’re going to hold people accountable. We are also fixing the problem of victims being afraid of retaliation or inaction by codifying the right for victims to report abuse to any manager in any location across the service, and by bringing on an independent, investigative partner.”

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Wild horse adoption event to feature Utah’s own Cedar Mountain and Sulphur horses

DELTA — The Bureau of Land Management and the Delta Wild Horse and Burro Facility will host an open house adoption Sept. 23 featuring wild horses gathered from the Cedar Mountain and Sulphur herd management areas in western Utah.

Approximately 180 horses, featuring Cedar Mountain weanlings and Sulphur yearling horses, will be available for adoption from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“I encourage anyone that is interested in adopting a beautifully colored weanling to come visit the facility,” Heath Weber, Delta Wild Horse and Burro Facility manager, said. “This is one of the nicest bunch of young horses we’ve had at the facility in a long time.”

Facility gates will open at 9 a.m., with viewing until 10 a.m. Competitive bidding will begin at 10 a.m. All remaining animals will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at 11 a.m. For qualified adopters, the adoption fee begins at $125, then Adopt-a-Buddy for $25.

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Despite varied opinions, Utah Wildlife Board votes to increase number of cougar hunting permits

ST. GEORGE — The Utah Wildlife Board voted Thursday to allow an additional 50 hunting permits for cougars to be issued in the upcoming 2017-18 hunting season.

The motion to increase the number of permits from 531 to 581, several of which include areas in Southern Utah, was approved unanimously in a public meeting in Salt Lake City by the board, which is composed of seven citizens appointed by the governor.

Thursday’s decision followed an extensive period of public comment during which the proposal received criticism from wildlife advocates and support from hunting associations and livestock industry representatives.

In a presentation at the meeting, Darren DeBloois, game mammals coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said the increase in hunting permits coincides with an observed increase in the cougar population as the state’s mule deer population also rises.

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BLM hands over land patent to Virgin’s ‘most scenic track’

VIRGIN — In a brief ceremony held at the Virgin BMX Track located at the foot of the Kolob Terrace section of Zion National Park Wednesday evening, the Bureau of Land Management officially handed over the land patent for the 10-acre parcel of land the track sits on to the town of Virgin.

Virgin BMX track operator Adam Pace (L) watches as Brian Tritle, St. George Field Office manager for the Bureau of Land Management, hands over the land patent for the land where the Virgin BMX Track sits to Virgin Mayor Bruce Densley, Virgin, Utah, Aug. 30, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Originally leased to Virgin through the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, acquiring the land was the culmination of a dream which began about 15 years ago.

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Zinke’s monument recommendations at the White House for president’s review

ST. GEORGE – The future of Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments was left unknown Thursday when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent recommendations for 27 national monuments under federal review to the White House but did not make the report public.

Zinke announced Thursday morning to the Associated Press he won’t seek to rescind any national monuments carved from the wilderness and oceans by past presidents. But he said he will press for some boundary changes.

Zinke did not directly answer whether any monuments would be newly opened to energy development, mining and other industries the U.S. president has championed.

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Bryan Hyde Perspectives: The Bunkerville trial, what a modern lynching looks like

OPINION – Our news cycle was dominated this past week by the birth announcement of a destructive, tantrum-prone love child sired by masked socialist activists and their national socialist counterparts.

While the public’s attention is focused on whether this little monster looks more like its mother or its father, a very real injustice is taking place just out of view.

The highly publicized, and sometimes blatantly distorted, narrative of events at Bundy Ranch three years ago made the Bundys a household name. No matter which version you choose to believe, it’s safe to say that what happened at Bunkerville was likely the most significant act of armed civil disobedience in the past 150 years.

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Bullying and suicide: The connection is not as simple as it may seem

Bullying, as many people know, can be a tremendously painful experience for a young person. The point has been driven home over the last decade by stories about teens like Phoebe Prince or Amanda Todd, who killed themselves after experiencing bullying.

Recently, the parents of 8-year-old Gabriel Taye filed a federal lawsuit against the Cincinnati public schools, alleging that their son committed suicide because the school covered up and failed to prevent a culture of bullying.

All 50 states have some kind of antibullying law, and schools are increasingly being called upon to implement bullying prevention programs.

Bullying and suicide are both significant public health concerns for children and adolescents. As a scholar with expertise in youth violence and bullying, I’ve done considerable research to understand the link between bullying and suicide. Although there certainly is a connection between the two, research highlights the complexity of the relationship.

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Secretary Zinke: Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument will stay

CEDAR CITY – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Friday he is not recommending changes to Arizona’s Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.

The Arizona reserve, located west of the Grand Canyon, has some of the most pristine geological formations in North America, Zinke said. The formations “show the scientific history of our Earth while containing thousands of years of human relics and fossils,” he said.

Zinke’s decision comes just three months after he was tasked with reviewing a list of 27 national monuments for possible elimination or reduction.

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Bill introduced to protect due process of American citizens

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA – Protecting Americans from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, is the focus of a bill introduced Wednesday in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

The Due Process Guarantee Act is also sponsored by Sens. Ted Cruz , T-Texas, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Chris Coons, D-Del.

“America should never waver in vigilantly pursuing those who would commit, or plot to commit, acts of treason against our country,” Lee said. “But the federal government should not be allowed to indefinitely imprison any American on the mere accusation of treason without affording them the due process guaranteed by our Constitution.

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Trump to order review of Bears Ears, Grand-Staircase, other national monuments

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Wednesday instructing the Interior Department to review national monument designations made over the past two decades.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he was grateful that Trump was moving to roll back what Hatch called “massive federal land grabs” by presidents dating to Bill Clinton. Hatch and other Utah Republicans have long lamented Clinton’s 1996 designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.

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BLM council to meet about public lands, tour Red Cliffs

ST. GEORGE – The Bureau of Land Management-Utah’s Resource Advisory Council will hold meetings in St. George Thursday and Friday, including a field tour of the Red Cliffs National Conservation area.
On Feb. 23, the council will meet from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at the BLM-Utah St. George Field Office/Arizona Strip District Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive. A one-hour public comment period will take place from 3-4 p.m. during this session.

On Feb. 24, the council will meet at the field office from 8-10 a.m. and then proceed to the optional field tour of Red Cliffs from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. the public is invited to attend the field tour; the BLM asks those interested RSVP to Lisa Bryant at telephone 435-260-7003.

Agenda topics for the meetings include an introduction of new BLM managers, an update on the Planning 2.0 Rule (a 2016 initiative to increase public involvement and incorporate the most current data and technology into the BLM’s land use planning) and updates on current resource management planning efforts and projects including the greater sage-grouse.

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