Friday, July 19, 2013

Utah legislature repeals bill to limit feds’ law powers

Faced with a likely legal defeat over a bill’s constitutionality, the Utah Legislature on Wednesday repealed a measure limiting federal land agencies’ law enforcement powers. HB155 sponsor Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, sought the repeal "on advice of counsel" after U.S. District Judge David Nuffer issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law’s implementation. Dubbed "the sheriffs’ bill," HB155 would have barred Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officers from enforcing state laws, imposing criminal penalties on them for "impersonating a peace officer" if they detained or ticketed someone for speeding, fishing without a license and other violations that are not specifically prohibited under federal law. Backed by the Utah Sheriffs’ Association, Noel claimed BLM rangers and Forest Service forest protection officers harass citizens and step on the law-enforcement priorities of local authorities, who are accountable to voters. But on Wednesday he conceded that a better way to resolve these issues is to build better relationships between local law enforcement and federal agencies. Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield, put it this way: "When you find yourself riding a dead horse, the best option is to dismount." Noel joked back, saying his horse might be down, but it will rise again...more

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