Skip Navigation

December 23, 2016

"Our economy today is as healthy as it's ever been, certainly as healthy as it was last year. And yet, we have a revenue stream that's about $100 million lower, and part of it's because $200 million in lost but owed sales tax revenue" Governor Herbert

ANNOUNCER: KUED presents the governor's monthly news conference, an exchange between Utah reporters and Governor Gary Herbert.

GOV. HERBERT: Good morning. Nice to be with you again. We're coming into the holiday season, and we wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and of course we're looking to a very happy and prosperous new year.

I've brought with me a couple of my friends, Congressman Bishop and Congressman Chaffetz today. As we look towards the new year, there will be a new legislative session, a new congressional session, a new administration in Washington DC, and I know you'll have some questions and some thoughts for us regarding that.

But before we get into that area, I know there's a lot of discussion, seems to be in the last few days, regarding the potential of a designation of a monument in the Bears Ears area down in San Juan County. And so, we wanted to address that today, a lot of speculation on what's going to happen, what should happen, and what maybe should not happen.

I had an opportunity to talk to the Chief of Staff Denis McDonough this past Monday, just 3 days ago. I asked him about the desires of the administration, what they were going to do, and I said, "Are you going to name a monument? Have you made the decision to name a monument?" The answer to me was "No, we have not made the decision, and your thoughts are being considered." I hope that's the case. I guess time will tell us, you know, what happens here.

But assuming that they have not made the decision, let me in fact reiterate the opposition this governor has to the use of the Antiquities Act and a monument declaration for the Bears Ears as not the right way to provide additional protections to that area.

One of the things that I think we've agreed to here over these past couple of years as we've analyzed the Bears Ears area is there is a need for additional protections for the historic, the antiquities, for the Native Americans' desires to have access and utilize that property as they see fit.

I would hasten to add that, as we've done this analysis, the polling numbers show that the people of Utah are overwhelmingly opposed to a monument designation in Bears Ears. The Dan Jones poll as of October 22 shows that only 33% of the people of Utah support a monument designation, 60% oppose it, about 8% are undecided, but I can tell you the opposition gets even greater as you get closer to, in fact, the monument area.

Certainly the local communities, the elected officials there generally are all opposed to it. Our legislature, you know, 90% are in opposition. Our congressional delegation are united in opposition. There is really not a lot of support. At best, the Native American support is mixed. And I know, as we just had elections, a couple of the leaders, leading proponents of the monument designation were in fact not reelected, and part of the reason for that was in fact their adherence to a monument designation.

I would just suggest to all of us here it's not a matter of do we want to have some additional protections provided. It is BLM land, by the way. I mean, it's already protected, and the BLM has that responsibility. But if we want to have in fact additional protections, then there's a better way to do it, and that is legislatively. Congressman Bishop and Congressman Chaffetz have led out on this issue to make sure that we have in fact a legislative solution to this problem, and I think that's a better way to do it.

The Native Americans, in fact, want to have some co-management responsibilities. They want to have a say in how it's going to be managed. That can only happen if we in fact have a legislative designation through Congress. Otherwise, it'll just be kind of a recommending body, and today, for example, here just recently have said, "We won't accept that, we don't want to have that kind of a relationship." So, again, I think there is a better way to do it. I think there's a need to do something.

But the better way would be to in fact have legislative action. So, to speak to that issue, we have Congressman Bishop here. Rob has led the charge in this for the last number of years. He's certainly very familiar with the public land initiative, and the strengths, and maybe even the weaknesses of that process. So, I'd like to have him come and speak, and then after that, we'll have Congressman Chaffetz come and speak to the issue also. So, Congressman Bishop?

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Thank you. I appreciate being here, but let me first start by talking about the Antiquities Act itself, and why this is such a bad public policy process.

Everything the Antiquities Act does has to be done in secret and in the shadows. It is simply a matter that if the White House were to engage either the Interior Department or Congress or anyone else, it will automatically trigger NIPA, which would demand there would be public input, and slow the process down, which is why the White House, in every one of their decisions, has tried to avoid having that kind of public input, which would be demanded if indeed they did consultation outside simply the Antiquities Act. That's why this act needs to be reformed significantly.

Therefore, what we have to deal with is simply what are the rumors floating around there, not knowing what the specifics is, because they can't tell us anything until that gotcha moment when they announce it.

So, we heard it was originally to be a 1.9 million acre monument, now it's down to around 1.4, but the latest rumor is that the administration will use the boundaries that we have established in the Public Lands Initiative Bill to use that as the monument boundaries as a justification for their efforts. And that's why I want to say if that is indeed what happens, it would be a cynical ploy to try and justify it improperly. Because what we have done in that area is divide it into two conservation areas.

The lower one for Bears Ears, which would be the area in which traditional activities and practices of the Native Americans would be used, is much different than the higher one, which is set aside for educational purposes.

So, there are different purposes for the land, which would not be encompassed and not be incorporated if there was an executive announcement using the Antiquities Act. In addition to that, the Native Americans who came to us with the original idea of using the Bears Ears area for their native customs, and would be abutting that area, they were the one who would be using it, have certain practices they want to have incorporated, they want to have used. You can do that if you do it by legislation. 

But announcement using the Antiquities Act cannot guarantee any of those activities. And indeed, in the Grand Staircase Escalante, even when President Clinton said he would guarantee grazing rights into the future, land managers later on changed those rights. Some of them even abridged those rights.

You cannot guarantee what the Native Americans in Utah want in Bears Ears unless you do it statutorily, which is what we are trying to do. As the governor mentioned, co-management is extremely significant. The administration says they want that for this area, but once again, the administration has no authority to do that. Even if they say they're going to do it, they can't.

That can only be accomplished through legislative actions. So indeed, if the legislature--if the president were to announce a monument here, a monument may have roughly the same area, but it would not have the same opportunities for the use of that land that can be done only through legislation. And that is why, specifically, we are looking at those type of areas. If you do this, you should do it the right way. You should do it the way every other national park and monument in Utah has been done. Even if it was originally started as a monument, it has been codified by Congress. Go through Congress to do it the right way so that we can make sure that these things are guaranteed for them going into the future. Governor, let me turn it back to you for a second.

GOV. HERBERT: I'm going to turn it over to Congressman Chaffetz.

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: Well, thank you, and Merry Christmas. Glad to be here. I appreciate the process that we've gone through to get the right piece of legislation in place. We've had more than 1,200 meetings. We've been talking about this for more than a year. We have met with every stakeholder you can possibly imagine. We appreciate the visit from Secretary Jewell. I think that was an important step forward.

While we did get technical responses back from the administration, we have never, to this date, ever received a suggestion from the White House as to what they would like to see done and changed in the bill in order to earn their support. I think it would be the height of arrogance to actually implement this monument without the consultation, interaction with the governor, with those that represent the area, including myself, Mr. Bishop, our two senators. 

What you find is there is bipartisan opposition to Bears Ears. There is bipartisan support in favor of the Public Lands Initiative. The only ones that I can find that are in favor of the monument are some radical environmentalists, and some people who have an environmental agenda that they think is so important that they are willing to bypass everybody else's input, and just want a monument.

There are a lot of things that the president does, the monument alone, that we're going to miss in terms of conservation, economic development, energy development along the way. We--one of the things I'm excited about with the PLI is the 300-plus miles of continuity and protection on Desolation Canyon. It's hard to protect that much river in this day and age. 

We were going to add some 19,000 thousand plus acres to Arches. We had a number of energy development opportunities. We had land exchanges that were going to benefit our universities and our public education. All of this would be set aside in favor of a simple designation that would be devastating to the local economy.

I want to reiterate every single locally elected official that represents the Bears Ears area, every single one of them is opposed to the--to the Bears Ears monument designation. And I would highlight Rebecca Benally. Rebecca Benally is a San Juan County Commissioner, she's a registered Democrat, she's a member of the Navajo Nation, and she is opposed to this monument designation.

So, as the governor mentioned, it is a mixed bag to have some people, this club that suggests that maybe the Navajos would like this designation, not true. Every single person who is locally elected at every level of government is in opposition to this monument, and I would hope that the president would understand that it would be just the height of arrogance to designate this monument without the consultation, without the suggestions, and to just do this unilaterally.

GOV. HERBERT: I want you to stay here, congressman. Congressman Bishop. We'll open it up now for questions regarding the Bears Ears, and the monument designation, and those issues surrounding that. So, we're happy to take questions.

GLEN MILLS, ABC4: Are you confident in what you're being told from the administration that the decision has not been made, or do you believe a decision has been made, and it will come out next week? 

GOV. HERBERT: Well, I can only say I accept their word. You know, what the chief of staff told me Monday is that a decision had not been made. So, who knows what's going on behind the scenes? We certainly hear a lot of rumblings out there, and certain the congressmen are concerned that maybe the cake has already been baked. But at least what they told me was the decision had not been made as of Monday.

BOB BERNICK, UTAHPOLICY.COM: Do you have any belief that the--do you have any belief, Representative Bishop, that Trump can undo this? It's never been undone before.  

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Yes, I'm clearly satisfied that he could do that. The ability to--

BOB BERNICK, UTAHPOLICY.COM: The Supreme Court, though, that would be--

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Who knows? The ability of shrinking the size of the monument is not actually put in the statute either, but it is a precedent that's taken place. The ability to actually undo one or repeal one would be another precedent would be established. And it's clearly not prohibited in there.

It could easily be done. If indeed something is done so egregiously and so excessively, as this would be, what violates not only the principles of the Antiquities Act, but also the guidance of the White House that we have right now that says they have to have local support, this would be so easy to be overturned, and it would establish that precedent.

That's why I think the White House would be wise to look at their entire legacy, and seeing if you're handing something that could easily be overturned as this could be, maybe you don't want to go down there in the first place. Maybe you want to do a little bit--a little bit discretion in this particular issue.

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: Congress can certainly overturn it. And I should guess you could overturn it by--with the appropriations process, avoiding a filibuster by saying, "None of this money can be used for anything to do with making Bears Ears." Will you try that if it's designated? 

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Yes. If you're addressing that to me, if it were to be designated, we will use every tool at our disposal, which would include legislation that we would introduce, which would include the appropriations process you talked about, which would include oversight and hearings. And once again, Congressman Chaffetz, that's his bailiwick, that's his committee.

It would also include efforts to try and pass the PLI so we could simply overturn it by positive legislation. We will use every method at our disposal.

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: You've talked PLI for quite a while. The progress has not been as large as you would hope. You once told me you hoped to have the thing passed by the end of this year, and you don't even have it--I doubt you'll get a vote in the House. Will you get a vote in the House? I doubt you will before the end of this Congress. Does the PLI have any real hope? 

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: I think since we are recessed and adjourned, you're probably accurate in that assessment. But the election changed everything to us, and it gave us a new concept of the period in which we are dealing with. No longer will you have an administration, as Mr. Chaffetz told you, that led us along for, like, 18 weeks, saying, "Yeah, we want to work with you, we want to work with you," but never gave us anything with which to work. That will change. 

So yes, we're going to reintroduce the PLI, it's already passed the committee, you don't have to go through that step again, we can bring it directly to the floor. It will actually come to a vote.

MALE: Do you think it'll pass?

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Yes. 

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: Can you get it through a Senate filibuster? 

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Yes.

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: Well, can you explain that? That sounds--that sounds like--that sounds very optimistic.

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Some of the groups that have been opposing us, and opposed before it was actually put into print, have been doing so under the assumption that there would be an administration that would back them up in anything they wanted to do. There will be a different administration, which means we are still going in the negotiating process. I think some of those groups--some of those groups will never be on the table because they were never serious in the first place. But most--many of those groups will come back and say, "Okay, now the dynamics have changed, now we're going to work with you."

Now, we're going to be working with an administration that actually will deal with us and coming up with something that can be done. I think you're going to see the entire dynamics change. While I was hoping to do is push it through before. Now, I'm going to be able to rework some of those things, and I think we'll push it through with much more response that's positive than we ever had before. We're closer to actually having it done now than we were before. 

BEN WINSLOW, FOX-13: Have any of you had any conversations with the president-elect to gauge his feelings on this? If you would, he does have kind of a history of saying something, and then changing his mind again.

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: No, Ryan Zinke, as the president-elect's selection as the Interior Secretary, is going to be very good for Utah, this delegation, and I think the nation. Ryan Zinke is very good friends with us on a personal level, but I think he understands the overreach of what the administration is trying to do. Let me also add designation solely of a monument is fundamentally flawed in a couple of areas.

Number one, the administration has routinely testified before Congress, the House and the Senate, that they would always consult with local elected officials, the governor, in the designation of a monument. That has not happened here. We've been in good communication, we appreciate Secretary Jewell's visit, but they have never suggested, "This is what it would look like, and this is the way we would structure it."

Number two, the appointments clause prohibits the administration from granting unilaterally co-management to the Navajo Nation. It is the number one thing that they're asking for is an ability to participate in the management of the Bears Ears. They are overreaching, the administration. They are flat out lying if they have told them, if they have told them, that they will get co-management under a unilateral designation of a monument. They flat out cannot do that. The only way to do that is through the legislative process, and that's what we're trying to do.

MALE: Representative Chaffetz, do you believe a decision has been made?

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: I think--I worry that this midnight monument will happen. I call it a midnight monument because it's been nearly 8 years, and here we are, we're down to the final hours of this administration. And if they haven't been able to get it done, and they haven't been able to suggest a solution to this, I find it hard to believe that at this point they don't know. Everybody's dusted off their resumes and tried to scatter out into the wind, and go find new jobs, so.

ROBERT GEHRKE, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: So, if they would have done this 9 months ago when you guys were still working on PLI, you would have been fine with it because it wouldn't have been a last second designation?

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: When we met with the White House, not the president, but at the White House in April, I believe it was April 29 if I get my date exactly right, we sat down, we had a good, productive hearing, Senator Hatch, Senator Lee, myself, Congressman Bishop, and we talked about this. We also asked for a meeting with the president, to be able to have an engagement and a discussion about something so impactful to Utah. We've never been granted that meeting with the president. We have had some good weekly dialogue every step of the way, but it's going pretty close to radio silent at this point, which does scare us in the last 30 days or so of this administration.

ROBERT GEHRKE, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: So, if the monument is designated, the monument management plan is actually what governs how the land is used. Couldn't you have the same management in the monument that you have in the PLI, and why would it be different, the co-management issue you raised, but in terms of roads and energy development 

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: No, they don't have the authority to implement that. A president can say, "This is what I would like to do," but it would be left up to the management, land managers later on. But you cannot guarantee that in an executive order. The only way it can be guaranteed is legislatively. That's why we want to do that.

ROBERT GEHRKE, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: But it then becomes the Trump administration's job to create a management plan that would--

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: If you go back and look at what Secretary Jewell has--the interaction we've had, the documentation on that, they know they cannot grant this co-management because of the appointments clause. They flat out can't do it. That's why you see so many Navajos that are not supportive of this. Even Willie Greyeyes has come out and said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, we're concerned about this," because I think they've been over-promised." I don't know by who, but they have been over-promised, this idea that they would get co-management. You can only do that in legislation.

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: It's hard to understand, for me at any rate, the specifics of why a monument wouldn't work down there. You've been clear about why the Navajos wouldn't get co-management, say that's a Navajo problem. What's your problem with the monument as opposed to the PLI? What would be the difference? 

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Well, it's quite simply that what we would do with PLI is put into management what kinds of practices they want to do. For example, if they want to do collecting of wood in the Bears Ears area, and they want to get--drive the truck into it, you cannot do that in a land management plan, you can't do that. You can only do that if we say that in the statute. That's why it's a much better process 

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: Okay. You've said it's better for Native Americans, and you've made a good case. But my guess is, maybe cynically, is that in part of your representation is what's good for the non-Native Americans down there, and you haven't been clear about why the non--about why the PLI would be better than the monument for non-Native Americans. What would the--the Escalante, Grand Staircase Escalante shut off the coal. What would Bears Ears do?

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Let me--you can go first--

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: We will provide you a laundry list of other things--remember, this involves seven counties. And what we're trying to do is come up with a bipartisan approach that's very balanced. Energy development, there's hundreds of thousands of acres of land transfers regarding SITLA lands.

There are RS2477 issues that are resolved in this issue. There's a whole list of things that we're able to do, economic development, things that would go directly to some of the universities for their educational development. And if you do a monument, it's going to become more restrictive. And so, this idea that the Native Americans, or the non-Native Americans, somebody in the Wasatch Front that wants to go down to drive and camp, they're not going to be able to do those things anymore.

MALE: But you can do it as soon as you pass PLI next year, right? 

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: Well, if you build it into the legislation, there are things that we can do in the legislation that you flat out can't do as a monument, a unilateral monument designation. 

ROBERT GEHRKE, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: So, it may not--6 months from now, a year from now when you pass PLI, the monument designation may not matter at all, right?

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Could be. But once again, the issue, the entire reason we went to PLI in the first place is to give people some surety, some confidence of what will and what will not be the case so they're not faced by arbitrary changes simply because a land manager decides to change his or her mind. So, what we're talking about here is how can we best do--give them this element of understanding and certainty that is so important. And monument designation only complicates that, makes it less likely to take place, may make it more difficult for us actually to pass PLI. So, don't do it, just don't go down that road in the first place. Plus, it does give the new administration the opportunity of saying, "Okay, we can roll this back, maybe we can roll back the stuff in New Mexico as well."

That it's a gamble for this administration to go down this path, it's not wise for them to do it, and it is lousy public policy. We ought to do things the right way the first time.

JUDY FAHYS, KUER: Rob, could you talk a little bit more about that, or maybe Congressman Chaffetz, about what's at stake for the Obama legacy, and maybe for the broader question of Native American relations with the federal government as well?   

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: You've got three questions in there. Which one do you want to go first?

JUDY FAHYS, KUER: Let's start with the Obama legacy. What's at stake if they go ahead with the monument, in your opinion?

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: There are problems in every one of the monument designations he has made so far. And that if you make this easier for a president, not just to shrink these boundaries, but also to repeal it, you could look at what's happening, what would happen in a potential Bears Ears, but go back to New Mexico, where he made a designation of a monument that had school trust lands trapped within it, that has private property trapped within it, no provisions on how you solve that problem.

Here's another that you can go back and say, "Okay, maybe the easiest way is to simply repeal it." If this administration wants to keep what they have done, the best thing they should do is make sure you don't give an easy opportunity, and Bears Ears would be so excessive, so egregious, this would be an easy opportunity to establish a precedent going in the future. They probably would not want it. Governor? 

GOV. HERBERT: Let me just speak in behalf of--as the governor's perspective, and this is a perspective shared by other governors. The Antiquities Act was designed to help protect, you know, and the phrase used, "the smallest area compatible with proper care and management."

All of a sudden, we have now these large and numerous designations that are happening, it's like the next president will want to do--outdo the last president. President Obama's done 23 national monuments already, and expanded 4 others.

It's not a matter of the use of the Antiquities Act in declaring monuments, it's the abuse of the Antiquities Act in declaring monuments. And states and governors are saying, "You know, we don't like this unilateral, one man wave the wand and come into our backyards and make significant changes that impact us, maybe with good intentions, but have in fact some significant drawbacks."

As Congressman Bishop has said, there's flaws in all these. That's why you have a legislative process to eliminate flaws, and get the optimal benefit of the use of the public lands. This circumvents that. And if we're wanting to get the best outcome, if we really care about the optimal management of the public lands in behalf of Americans, in behalf of Utahans, in behalf of the Native Americans, the local people, there needs to be a combined, comprehensive effort. This legacy, if that's what we're talking about here, Obama's legacy will not be enhanced by adding the Bears Ears.

In fact, it may in fact be a black mark on the legacy because of a disbursement of frustration and anger that's created by, again, just one more time going and over--and bypassing the local communities. He said, "I want to make sure people want us to be there." That's not the case in Utah. He ought to go places where they want him, not the places where we don't want him. I see what's taking place at the Dakota pipeline. We have a few Native Americans there that are opposed to it, and they've shut it down in listening to the local people there. So again, why would we do it there, and not do it here in Utah in opposition to the monument?

ROBERT GEHRKE, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: Governor, we've had four of the monuments that have been declared in Utah are now four of the mighty five that your administration touts as sort of a staple, the centerpiece of Utah's tourism and recreation industry. They were all, when they were designated, there was widespread local opposition from the elected leaders. Were those mistakes, and are we going to look back on this and say, you know--go ahead.

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: The right step for the president is to offer a suggestion on what he would like to see in the legislation, and do that in a bipartisan way to come up with a plausible solution. That is the right method for it. But for him to unilaterally just use a stroke of the pen would be fundamentally flawed. The president has never been there, probably will never go there. There is a right way to do this, and it's to have the maximum local input so that we can get the certainty that people deserve.

But the president has an opportunity, and that opportunity is to provide a suggestion on what he'd like to see. The frustration for--to answer your earlier question, why hasn't this passed? We passed it out of committee, but we've always hoped that the administration, going back to our meeting in April, would offer a suggestion on the changes they would like to see in order to get to a point that they would actually support the legislation. That was the hope, and it--to this date, it still has never happened.

ROBERT GEHRKE, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: Can you refer to the historic, can you respond to this?

GOV. HERBERT: Let me just answer, Robert. Again, I don't know what the circumstances were when these other monuments were declared, become a national park, part of our national park system. I was not there. Probably here, the only one who's been around that long is maybe Rod Decker, can remember back then. I just know what's happening today. And I see the opposition, and it's growing, it's not getting smaller 

This is not the right mechanism. This is not the right vehicle to do what everybody ostensibly says they want to do, which is protect the public lands, do something for the Native Americans, that's the motivation, that's the catalyst for the administration to really do this. And over opposition from an overwhelming majority of Utahans does not seem to be the right thing to do.

Now, maybe after we get more specifics, and maybe if there's a proposal from the administration, maybe we can find that compromise, that win-win point of view which we all can embrace. At least that ought to be tried. 

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Can I just say one thing about the history since that's my profession? Rod, you have to tell me--you'll have to tell me how President Taft was to interview from that era. Those monuments that became national parks were all much smaller than what we're talking about here. They had a specific antiquity they were trying to designate and protect, which is not what we are talking about here. And also, they were passed and codified by Congress, going through the process of getting the input, solving the problems. That's what we're talking about here.

If you're really going to do something for Bears Ears that's positive, go through the process of having Congress codify it, going through the open process of having public debate, public hearings. None of this, none of this is accomplished through the Antiquities Act, which is why the Antiquities Act must be reformed in some way.

MICHELLE PRICE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Can you talk about why you're so worried about this if it can be so easily overturned by Congress or the incoming President?

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Because there's that back--fear in the back of my mind that maybe it won't be that easy to overturn it. And if you're going to do something, for heaven's sakes, do it the right way the first time.

All this is an effort for an administration to once again pat itself on the back and say, "Yahoo, we did it one more time." But it doesn't help the people who live there, it doesn't help the process, it doesn't help anything going forward. And once again, you specifically cut out public input in the process.

I told you the reason the Antiquities Act is used, and the reason the administration's always argued that they have to have the Antiquities Act, is so they can bypass the NIPA process, which demands public input. Everyone else in the country, every other agency has to go by NIPA, except the White House when they use Antiquities. I'm sorry, that's a hypocritical position. So, what we need to do in the first place is do it the right way the first time.

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: Let me add to this. We're trying to lower the blood pressure. We're trying to get all parties to come to the table. It's terribly offensive for a fifth generation family who's been grazing and living on the land down there in San Juan County, in Emery County, and all these counties to unilaterally have somebody who's never been there and will never go there to just come in and change the designation of land, destroy their families, destroy their income. That's a terribly arrogant way to do it. 

And we have come miles over the last 2 years and 1,200 plus meetings, to try to get the interested parties to all come in and believe. And the government should help build and involve trust, and get people to--from all sides to come to the table. I mean, look what's happening with Mountain Accord, right? We got a very, almost unanimous support for that, and it's moving in a rapid fashion. We're trying to do something similar in a bigger scale, it's seven counties.

And for the president to come in and just unilaterally designate this, guess what? You're going to blow up the process for the next 30 years. Why should anybody believe anybody in government? It's terribly frustrating, it's outright offensive, and I feel for those families who are fighting to just keep what they've had, and be able to access the land as they have in the past.

MICHAEL ORTON, UTAHPOLITICALCAPITOL.COM: There are more families other than just ranchers down there, though, too, and more than just in Utah. In the Four Corners area, there are people who want the Antiquities Act enacted and utilized here to protect and preserve places where they worship, just like the dominant culture worships in specific places here in Utah. But to them, it's not just a Utah situation. How do you respond to them?

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: Well, we haven't suggested that there be no protections, no designations. We're trying to find that balanced approach. We designate in the PLI more than a million acres. But it's done in balance, it's done with all the interested parties coming to the table. 

In fact, we've had some very good input from a lot of these environmental organizations. But you have environmental organizations, even prior to this press conference, have already, you know, sent out their rapid response to the press conference. We haven't even had the discussion yet. We had ads go up before we even introduced the PLI that were terribly offensive.

So, there are a lot of interests, they're not just Utahans, but we have listened to those, we have communicated with those. And that's why we're trying to find this balanced approach. We need the help of the White House to offer a suggestion on what they would like to see in this legislation. And as of here, mid-December, we've never had that input, not once.

ERIK NEILSEN, KUED: Governor, thank you for this. We need to get some other issues in this news conference. So, I have a question that's specific to the incoming administration. One of the mandates of the new Trump administration will be to remove the affordable healthcare--the Affordable Care Act. And I'm wondering how that affects you and the Healthy Utah plan that you've been pushing for the past 2 years. And what--how are you thinking about the Healthy Utah plan now?

GOV. HERBERT: Well, it's unclear. You know, I didn't want to speculate on what may or may not happen. I know there's been talk about it, but we'll have to wait and see, and we'll react to whatever in fact the new administration, the Trump-Pence people decide to do in conjunction with the Congress. Again, he's not going to be able to unilaterally go around the Congress.

They're going to have a lot to say about what we'll have if in fact they do a repeal and replace. It does seem to me that's going to take some time. I would just suggest to the Congress, and to the president-elect that, in the meantime, whatever monies we have ought to be in the form of a block grant.

We're sending a lot of money back to Washington DC. I think we as a state would be better served if that money came back to us as a block grant that gave us all the flexibility. Again, the work requirement, the ability for us to have people get off government assistance because we get them a job ought to be a part and parcel of good health.

We can give you the healthcare and also give you the workplace training. So, the flexibility we need that we could not get out of the present administration I think may give us that if we have a block grant approach to the monies coming back to the state of Utah.

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: Could we get Representative Chaffetz to talk about the incoming Secretary of Interior? Could I get you and Representative Bishop, all three of you, to tell us some more about Zinke, particularly he's evidently very strongly opposed to letting the federal lands out of federal control, as for example the Utah lawsuit would--the prospective lawsuit would come to play? 

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: My experience with Ryan Zinke is, first of all, he's an American patriot, serving in our military, a commander, SEAL Team 6. The guy has an amazing patriotism, a grit that is enviable, and a commitment to his country that I think everybody should aspire to.

When I talked to him, for instance, about a bill that I introduced to get rid of the BLM and the Forest Service police, and allow that money and that law enforcement to go to the local sheriffs, he was on board before I even got through my second sentence.

This is a person who has very--a very conservative approach. I think the idea, listening to the locally elected people, is something that will resonate in its core to Ryan Zinke. He has to represent Montana, and he has done that.

The situation is different in Montana than it is in Utah. But my relationship, Rob Bishop's relationship, Mia Love, Chris Stewart, Mike Lee, and Senator Hatch I think will be very impactful. And when you get a Rebecca Benally in front of you, look out, I think she's going to be a hard person to say no to. 

GOV. HERBERT: Let me add too, Rod, I think--and I don't know Congressman Zinke at all. I know he has a good reputation. I know that he's friends with our congressional delegation. But part of the--of your question presupposes too often that the state of Utah wants to privatize the public land. We hear that from the opposition out there all the time, that's incorrect. There's no desire to privatize the public land.

As we've said many times, it's public lands in Utah will always be public lands. We just think that there ought to be more input from the local communities and the state to have the optimal management plan in place.

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: Do you know if his opposition is just to privatization? I was under the impression that it was--he was opposed to turning it over to the states too. And let me just expand on that. Are we sending--are we sending mixed messages? "We want to work with you, but we're going to go to court, and we're going to take the land for ourselves." Is that a mixed message that doesn't help us? 

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: You can handle the mixed message portion of it. Let me handle the other one. There is a whole lot of spin about what he does and does not believe, and it's coming from interest groups that want to try and spin their perspective. Give him a chance to actually say what he wants to. He's a westerner, he's worked on my committee. He specifically handed bills that we have worked with him on. He understands how difficult it has been to deal with the administration on his issues and our issues.

He will work with us. So, don't buy all of the spin that's going out there right now. He clearly understands the problems that we have and wants to solve the problems. He wants to make sure that what we do in interior is the same thing I want to do in my committee, is that we put people first, and we improve the effectiveness of land management that is controlled by the federal government. He has those same goals in mind.

MICHELLE PRICE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: But he resigned his position as Republican delegate when there was language added to the platform calling for the transfer of federal land to the states. He was very clearly opposed to that.

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: Don't deal too much in that spin in there is I think what--

MICHELLE PRICE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: He resigned, though.

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: AS I think what Representative Chaffetz told you is that Montana has different issues than Utah and Nevada has. He clearly understands those. So, don't build too much into that. There's a long way of going, you've got an entire administration to go. Don't buy everything that the spins are giving you on what his position is or is not. Let him actually say that in the context of the issues that we bring before him. Now, if you want to go to the other portion of that, I think you can--

GOV. HERBERT: I can't remember the question.

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: Okay. Are we sending a mixed message? "Please, Administration, work with us on the PLI. No, we're not working with you, we're going to court and suing."

GOV. HERBERT: Well, we're not saying that. Again, what's always been said--

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: Is Representative Noel saying that? Or Representative--

GOV. HERBERT: Well, again, there's a lot of disparate voices out there that, again, you can get a sound bite here, a sound bite there. But one thing we're united on, and that is that it's a public land state. The BLM charter itself, and nobody knows it better than Mike Noel, who worked for 25 plus years for the BLM, it's a multiple use.

We've kind of drifted to this one only, it's all tourism and travel, it's more wilderness, when in fact it should be a multiple use, all of the above approach. That's all we're saying. I think it's time for us to get past the ideology that seems to get in the way.

What we're talking about here is just common sense, common sense, and how do we manage the public lands to the benefit of the people of Utah, the people of America, certainly the Native Americans and their issue here with the Bears Ears. But common sense will prevail at the end of the day if we in fact approach it with an attitude of let's resolve the issue. I've been around for a long time.

We've been fighting over the public lands for 25, 30 years. There have been numerous sagebrush rebellions. The intent with the PLI was to say, "Let's resolve the conflict. Not everybody's going to get everything they want, but let's find a compromise to allow us to move forward, and spend our time on other important issues." Other questions you've got?

JULIA RITCHEY, KUER: Healthcare, I'd like to ask the congressman where you stand on replacing the Affordable Care Act, if you advocate for delaying, or if you have a plan that you support, either Paul Ryan's Better Way, or even Senator Hatch's Care plan.

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: There are a lot of good suggestions. I wholly support the idea that it needs to be repealed. Look at what's happening in Utah and across the nation. Premiums have gone up, deductibles have gone up, choice has gone down. It's been devastating to American families. And it was originally sold on a lie. It was sold on this idea that you would save $2,500, that you could keep your doctor. None of that turned out to be true. So, it will be repealed, and it's probably the very first thing that the Congress will do when we go back into session on January 3rd. 

JULIA RITCHEY, KUER: Either keep delaying, or the repeal, or do you want to immediately-- 

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: I do support--well, I do support a number of provisions. First of all, the governor's absolutely right that we should move towards a block grant type of model to allow this transition to take place. The Better Way offers great solutions to that, and I wholeheartedly support Donald Trump's suggestion that--or appointment of Tom Price, who is our current budget committee chairman, to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. He has been passionate, he has led our charge in the House on offering suggestions and solutions.

There's some things that I think should stay in place, the idea that you can keep your kids on a plan till you're 26, dealing with pre-existing conditions, doing things across state lines. These are all just--these should be simple and easy to do. But allowing more local control, how the state of Utah does it is dramatically different than how Florida or New York or Pennsylvania's going to do it. So, block granting will give more flexibility to those states in order to make sure we've got better access to healthcare across the country.

BEN WINSLOW, FOX-13: Congressman Chaffetz, Democrats have been calling on you to investigate President-elect Donald Trump's conflicts of interest. Simple question, are you going to do it?

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: Give the guy a chance, he hasn't even been sworn in yet, my goodness. Like the oversight committee was founded in 1814. Abraham Lincoln served on this committee. The whole premise of what we're supposed to be is a check and a balance on the administration, whoever is in office. And I pledge to do that absolutely, wholeheartedly. But it is a bit disingenuous for the Democrats and their newfound sense of, "Oh, we need openness, transparency, accountability." I love that the Democrats suddenly found this principle now that the first part of November went by 

I wonder what changed after that. They suddenly all want all these investigations. Where were they on Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, the emails, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal? They were nowhere. Donald Trump hasn't even taken office yet, so give the guy a chance to make the transition, but he has got to adhere to the law. And whether the administration and the bureaucracy oversteps their bounds, we're going to help hold them accountable.

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: Congressman Bishop, did the president scare you with his tweet about the F-35? Is he right that billions of dollars have been wasted on that program?

US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: ROB BISHOP: He scared me only in the fact that he's still tweeting. As someone who has not done a character on Twitter, I oppose anybody who tweets. Because once again, it is very simplistic, it doesn't say what can happen. Some people read into that, "I'm going to cut the planes, I'm going to cut the projects." You can read something else into it.

If you just build the planes faster, you can save the billions he is talking about. If we only build 43 planes a year, the price of each plane is skyrocketing all the time. Every lot we do, the price comes down. So, the way you actually save that money, build 300, 400 a year, not just 43.

ROD DECKER, KUTV2: Is it--is it possible that the F-35 and Hill could be adversely affected by the President's attitude on this plane?

ROB BISHOP, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 1: It is theoretically possible. I really doubt it in practicality. The F-35 is the platform we have for the future. It is viable for our Air Force, the Navy, and the Marines. There is no other option. We've got to go forward with it. How you do it can save us money. In that I think he's accurate.

GLEN MILLS, ABC4: Congressman Chaffetz, a lot of talk recently on online sales tax, the state of Utah reaching a deal with Amazon to collect taxes. Does this need to be handled across--you know, blanket across the country? And what is the latest update on your efforts on, you know--

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: So yeah, I did introduce last year the Remote Transaction Parity Act. The idea is to give states the ability to set their own standards in how they're going to collect or not collect taxes on online purchases.

Some people erroneously want to say, "Oh, this would be a tax increase." No, it is not a tax increase. In fact, the state of Utah, for every dollar that's collected online, the legislation that's currently in place, currently state law, says that there will be no net increase to the state coffers. And so, it actually is a tax decrease to the state of Utah. This does require a federal solution. The bill that I introduced was referred to the judiciary committee because it's an inter-state commerce issue. And if you look at the decision that came out last week, where the Supreme Court did not grant cert on a case in Colorado, look out because you're going to have states, particularly Colorado that we're very worried about now, they're going to want to know the details of each and every individual purchase that you've ever made in the state of Colorado.

So, we have deep concerns on the privacy issue. We have still not addressed the ability of states to make these types of decisions. But I do hope that in very short order that we actually take up this legislation because it really does demand a federal solution to give states the flexibility that they need. We're losing literally hundreds of millions of dollars just here in the state of Utah, and untold billions across the country.  

GOV. HERBERT: Let me just add to that too, the Congressman, because he's been working tirelessly to try to get this passed. And if we don't get it passed, states will be left to their own devices as far as how do you handle it on a state by state basis. And that's going to be not as--it's going to be more of a hodgepodge approach, as opposed to a more seamless approach on a national basis. 

The law we've had on the book requiring us to pay our taxes on remote purchases has been on the book since 1937. And you know, whether we've recognized there's been a change and a shifting in how we shop today, there was not online, it was catalogue sales mainly. But now, with approaching 25%, 30% of our shopping online, these are taxes owed, but there's really no mechanism to collect it. You have to kind of on your honor, and I'll remember what I did.

Can you imagine if you were to go out downtown shopping today for your Christmas, and when you file your taxes in next April, "Let's see, what did I buy? What did I purchase?" and write that in and send the money to the tax commission. This is going to make it easier for the taxpayer to fulfill their obligations under the law, and it's certainly an equity and a fairness issue for those who are out there paying the taxes. And we need to have a federal solution, frankly, to get it done correctly for America.

BEN WINSLOW, FOX-13: On a federal solution, will you be backing legislation, or is legislation coming again to deal with it in the legislature?

GOV. HERBERT: I will because this will be a parallel track. Because if Congress doesn't act--and again, we've been working on this for now nearly 18 years. We should have had Congressman Chaffetz in there earlier, we would have it done by now. But we've been waiting for this to happen for a long, long time. And it is becoming more and more acute.

Our economy today is as healthy as it's ever been, certainly as healthy as it was last year. And yet, we have a revenue stream that's about $100 million lower, and part of it's because $200 million in lost but owed sales tax revenue. That cannot continue. We in fact are narrowing the base, and the pressure is to raise the rate, that's not good tax policy.

So, we think there's an opportunity on the state to go to court, just as Kennedy signaled the fact that the obligation--or a nuisance that was addressed in the Quill decision has been eliminated with new technology. There's not really an obstacle now for entities to not be able to collect the tax, and remit it back to the state of origin of the purchase, to the tax commission. So, we're going to have that as kind of a parallel track, and force a confrontation in court if needs be if we can't get it passed legislatively.

BOB BERNICK, UTAHPOLICY.COM: Show of hands, gentlemen, can I ask you if you want Senator Hatch to run for reelection in 2018, even though he said he wouldn't.

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: Look at the time here.

GOV. HERBERT: Well, as speculation. We don't know what he's going to do, and we'll have--that's a decision he's going to have to make by himself. It's not something I'm going to influence him on. He'll make that decision himself.

 JUDY FAHYS, KUER: Can you talk about the reports of Russian hacking in the election, and how Utah and how the Republicans nationwide should be responding to that?

GOV. HERBERT: Yeah, I can just tell you I have no idea whether there is or is not any hacking that took place by the Russians. Maybe our congressional people can--

 

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: I would point you to two things. I would point to President Obama and the public comments that he made prior to the election, saying he saw no evidence of it. And even if there was, there's no way to actually do it. And I think the person probably from our delegation that, at least in the House, that's best to answer this question is Chris Stewart. He's on the intel committee. I've had--I've been peppered with a lot of questions about what is the oversight committee going to do on this. Really, the lead on this should be the intel committee.

One thing that I cannot, generally don't dive into, is when there are sources and methods. So, if you're looking at internet traffic from Russia, that's generally something that we would refer or leave to the intel committee.

Lester Rojas: Question for governor and congressmen. It is obvious that you guys oppose any executive action from President Obama. Last year, he tried to expand the DACA program that covers undocumented immigrants for deportation and grants us a work permit. And there is a path for them to keep going in life, and become, you know, a productive people in society.

There is a bill introduced by Dick Durbin and also Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, bipartition bill, and it's called the Bridge Act. It basically will present this bill, it does--it will do the same thing as the DACA program from President Obama, but this will be a bill. Will you guys support it?

GOV. HERBERT: I'll have the Congressmen address that. Let me say to you I've spoken to President Obama on the immigration issue. And I reminded him that we were sued as a state because we tried to in fact find our own unique solution. And he said to us, "You cannot go around the Congress." In fact, we went to court, and the court said to us that very thing, "This is a federal issue, must be addressed by Congress." Then the President tried to, by executive order, go around the Congress. I said, "You're trying to do the same thing we tried to do as a state, and we are suing you for that." And of course, we won in court. It is a congressional situation; they need to address it. I hope that they will address it. I hear from the president-elect they're going to address it, immigration.

So, the fact that Mr. Durbin is introducing a piece of legislation is at least the right process. Whether the specifics of the bill are any good or not, I'll let them talk about it.

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: I have great respect and a great working relationship with Senator Durbin, as well as Senator Graham. I cannot tell you that I'm familiar with the specifics of that bill, but I do--

MALE: I can show you.

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: The governor--the governor is absolutely right that it does require congressional action. And the reason the president wasn't able to get away with what he wanted to do was he was overstepping his bounds. He can't just do it by executive fiat.

I have passed out of the House legislation to deal with how we deal with per-country caps. It affects the 90-plus visas that are out there. It would have provided relief to hundreds of thousands of people. I do hope, in addition to what president-elect Trump has been talking about in locking down that border, that we also take as a mantra to fix legal immigration. But because you do have--but you do have people who--that we have to deal with.

We are the most generous nation on the face of the planet. We give more than a million, million visas out there, but we need asylum reform, we need to fix the per-country cap issue. There are a lot of things that I'm in favor of, but you've got to do it in context of fixing--locking down that border.

Personally, I reject amnesty, so there are a lot of things that need to be done. I wish there was one simple solution. If it was easy, it would have been done a long time ago. But I do encourage and think that this is--I'm very encouraged, and I do think this is something that will be addressed sooner rather than later.

Lester: But this is not about visa, this is about the people already here, people that are working, our supervisors, are becoming our lawyers, are becoming our doctors. They just need that work permit to keep going, and obviously there has been more than $2.6 billion nationwide increase in salaries and taxes. So, is this--the question was, will you support this bill? You guys obviously oppose executive order, but this is a bill being introduced by a Democrat, Republican.

JASON CHAFFETZ, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 3: Having not read the bill, I cannot tell you I would commit to that. I'd tell you that we do need to fix legal immigration. There are a lot of issues, very complicated issues. I think the immigration enforcement should be focused on the criminal aliens. We had committee hearing that I'd love to have you go back and look at if you haven't seen those. I'd love for you to look at those.

We have some 80,000, 80,000-plus people that are here illegally, committed a crime, got convicted of a crime, and instead of being deported, they were released back out into the public. That is so irresponsible. And until the administration actually deals with that, it's hard to get at some of these other issues because when you take 80,000 criminals, and some of these people went on to commit murder and homicide, DUIs, and things that devastated families all across this country, it's offensive to suggest that we--you know, "Hey, let's just let everybody stay here." I'm not an open-border type of person, so.

Lester: Congressman Chaffetz, I'm not saying to let everyone stay, I'm just saying the people that already are protected under this program, that they are looking for a better life, and they're becoming--

GOV. HERBERT: Let me--let's move on to another question. Again, I just say to you, as a governor, we are--we welcome our Hispanic neighbors. We have a large population here of 13%, it's the fastest-growing segment of our population. We're a very welcoming state.

The immigration issue must be solved by the federal government. It's a federal issue, and Congress is going to have to say. I'm puzzled about why we can't just secure the borders. I mean, it's probably multiple steps. Let's just secure the borders. Everybody seems to agree to it, let's do that, that's the first step, then go to the second step. I want to see to the first step first. Other questions? 

ERIK NEILSEN, KUED: Governor, we've got just about a minute left, and it's the last news conference of the year. This hour has flown by obviously, but traditionally, we'd like to give you the opportunity to wrap up the year, wish a Happy Holidays. Do you have anything to say to Utahans?

GOV. HERBERT: Well, thank you, Erik. And again, it's great to be with you, as always. And it's nice to have a whole different format, to have Congressman Bishop and Congressman Chaffetz here with us, give a little more of a federal perspective on what's taking place. I think we might want to try this again sometime down the road.

We've enjoyed being here with you, and thank you for your insightful questions, and we hope we've given you good responses.

As we finish the end of the year, and we look back at the successes of Utah, you know, we are doing very well. We're humbled about the successes. Our economy is the best in America. We'll have new numbers coming out tomorrow.

I bet we're still going to be the best economy in America, great quality of life, education challenges and other things in the future, but I'm expecting to have a very happy New Year.

Again, there's reasons to be grateful for all we have. Merry Christmas to everybody. Happy Holidays, and let's have a happy and prosperous new year. Thanks very much, great to be with you. 

ERIK NEILSEN, KUED: Thank you, governor.

ANNOUNCER: This has been the governor's monthly news conference. An archive of transcripts, video, and audio is available online. Please visit kued.org. Thanks for joining us. ...  

Return to home page

© Utah Education Network in partnership with the Utah State Board of Education and Higher Ed Utah.
UEN does not endorse and is not responsible for content on external websites linked to from this page.
(800) 866-5852     |     KUEN CPB Compliance    |     Web Accessibility     |     Captioning