UPDATED: Hughes’ Last Hurrah: The Conservative Dilemma with Prop 2
News/Opinion by Ed Wallace – Publisher at UtahStandardNews.com – 12/3/2018
Updated 12/3/18 10pm – Today’s sessions showed an overwhelming mandate in favor of TRULY Medical Cannabis in Utah. EVERY Republican except for one voted in favor of HB3001. A pre-session was held to make sure every Rep. hah their questions answered. They took the time to work out enough of the “kinks” so that it could be supported by both moderates and conservatives. There were some big things that most are probably not aware of, such as making sure that it doesn’t cost the state anything over time. The Medical Cannabis system will pay for itself once its implemented. And protection for 2nd Amendment rights. And very strong protections for kids. And access to more medical professionals than just MDs. And guarantees that Rural areas outside the state’s urban center will have equal access to their medical cannabis needs. And then lots of technical nitty gritty that most people wouldn’t care about. And clear guidelines for Law enforcement. For example, under Prop 2 we would have to re-train all of our marijuana-sniffing police dogs at great expense, because law enforcement would lose the ability to enforce marijuana possession laws. But now under the new Law all these Canine Troopers can stay in their jobs. And, it looks like they’ve solved the banking problem. Legislators who represent the banking sector were heard loud and clear so there are solutions in the current bill. If you are a federally regulated financial Institution then its true that you can’t take these payments. But the State will be creating a solution for that in this bill. And, the whole program will eventually be self funded. Thank heavens we live in a republic and not a democracy where our elected representatives can protect us from the tyranny of the majority!
The Conservative Dilemma with Prop 2
Our minority conservative Legislators are between a rock and a hard place today as they are forced to pick between the lesser of two evils; a yes or no vote to “upgrade” Prop 2. This could have been avoided if our “Leadership” (the Speaker of the House & Governor) had not decided to take us down this current path. The Leadership had the option of doing something with Utah law prior to the November 6 vote on Prop 2 and chose NOT to do that. No doubt they expected Prop 2 to lose and they wouldn’t have to deal with it. This is reminiscent of the 8 years that the Republicans controlled the White House and Congress and chose to ignore the rumblings about healthcare. That dereliction of duty gave us the unConstitutional Obamacare.
Even though House Speaker Greg Hughes is a lame duck, he is still the man with the gavel and likes using it. What makes this extreme is that our Legislators are now in the unenviable position of being forced to vote to violate the federal law, EITHER WAY THEY VOTE. Each elected official has taken Utah’s Oath of Office, which includes upholding the U. S. Constitution. There is NO mention in the Oath of Office that elected officials can make their own determination about the validity of the U. S. Constitution.
USN thinks that a vote to nullify an unconstitutional federal law is a good vote. We don’t see any authority in the Constitution for the feds to be regulating marijuana growing, sales, and use in the State of Utah. It would benefit our State even more if a majority of Utah’s legislature would refuse to uphold all unconstitutional federal laws. But, that would require that we had a ‘Utah Balance of Power Act’ and the political will to follow our Constitution and honor the Oath of Office. Very few of our elected officials are at the level of Leadership in the legislature where those tectonic decisions are made. Our Legislative body only has 10-14 true conservatives. That is a shameful travesty. The voters don’t realize how liberal their activist Republican legislators really are.
Because the voting public has already passed Prop 2, there are only 2 options for Legislators here: Vote “No” and thereby put Prop 2 into full force, with all its flaws that even it’s own authors have admitted. Or Vote “Yes”, and begin a multi-year process whereby we try to get Cannabis policy right in our State – which will indeed take YEARS. There is no option to abstain or some-other weak-kneed response. These are the only options that “The Leadership” are making available. While all of Legislators have the chance to influence what the text of the final “Prop 2 Upgrade” bill looks like, the Speaker of the House is the man with the gavel, and HE decided to take us down the current path.
Many are calling either option a ‘Dance with the Devil’ or a ’Vote for Evil’. Because the citizenry has already passed Prop 2 there is no political will to outright repeal Prop 2. All of the weeping and wailing about having a medical marijuana system in Utah needed to be done back before the Prop 2 vote was taken, in the form of activism and full-throttle efforts to stop Prop 2 (for the people who are totally against it). But now that the Law of the Land is Prop 2 (it started to take effect yesterday), we are only left with those 2 binary options.
At a meeting at the Capitol on last Monday, people were very civil for the most part, perhaps except for Rocky Anderson. Most legislators want to protect society and help patients. The bill is very detailed and very long and will be overwhelming for most people besides those who wrote it, in fact even for those who wrote it.
USN leans towards voting FOR the upgrade bill, to seek to do away with some of the harms that we see in Prop 2, while still honoring the majority will of the people to have medical marijuana in our state. Whichever way each person feels, it will come down to educating the public on both the value of cannabis and the concerns.
We would prefer that we didn’t have this issue forced onto us in our state, but now that Prop 2 HAS passed in its current form, it seems like the principled stance would be to vote to upgrade it, NOT to vote against the upgrade bill, because that would yield the same outcome as voting FOR PROP 2.
A final option is for our lawmakers to put the Prop 2 on hold until it doesn’t contradict the U S Constitution and federal laws. Or, by voting Yes OR No, Utah can vote to succeed from the union, OR petition Congress for permission to uphold the voter’s Prop 2. The problem of marijuana businesses being unable to put their money in a bank or credit union is NOT going to go away and greatly complicates the state trying not to violate the federal laws and U. S. Constitution.
Imagine being locked inside the Chamber in winter while most are sick and coughing, hacking, sneezing, wheezing — some even with pneumonia and cancer, while being strong-armed and intimidated to vote with The Leadership. What a ludicrous way to make good policy. Some things never change.
Would the same Legislators present today vote against the federal government to bring back polygamy or to legalize Codeine and Oxycodone? And, if you are a fan of Prop 2 and feel as if your vote is being stolen out from under you… WELCOME TO UTAH. Maybe now you can understand how people feel who supported the representative caucus form of Grass-Roots participation and had it stolen by the Count My Vote ACTORS!
Let’s hope that the 2019 Session, with new leadership and a significant number of newly elected representatives, some things will change. Every elected official present at the Capitol today has been on one end or the other of the standard welcoming committee from establishment Republican leadership who pull new members aside in a good-hearted, well-intentioned kind of way to give them a little 2-rule advice on legislative proceedings. With condescending, wise old voices, that usually goes something like:
“Look Sonny, back when I got first elected I also had these grand visions like you have of standing by your principles and fighting for the Constitution and sticking to your guns — morally, figuratively and literally. But let me tell you a little sumthin’, a secret that will really help you out: legislators like that can not accomplish anything! If you REALLY WANT to accomplish something—and I can tell you do— then you have to learn two things as fast as possible: (1) Don’t let “the great” get in the way of “the good”. This means that you MUST be willing to compromise 95% of your principles in order to achieve the other 5% of your principles. You may have been elected because of your principles but don’t let them distract you from the goals at hand. Leave your standards and principles at the door. And (2) remember that The Leadership controls everything, and you want and need to be “a friend of The Leadership” so that they will allow you to get anything done. Anyone who doesn’t learn and live those two rules will just be kicking against the pricks, and be relegated to the distant realms of the lone, wacky legislator who simply votes “No” all the time. And you don’t want THAT now do you????”
Note: TWO THINGS:
FIRST, these legislators must consider the will of the people that THEY individually represent. Each voting district did not pass Prop 2 by a slim majority —- it was widely rejected in many places in the state. We should expect lawmakers to act accordingly today in the Marijuana Special Session.
SECOND: The Utah House could become more Constitutionally Conservative next year, with a new Speaker who is likely more conservative, and an incoming class of new legislators who largely campaigned on their conservative credentials. Keep your eyes on the core group of Reliable Constitutionalists in both bodies today and next year. Hopefully that group will grow when the 20+ new legislators take their Oath of Office soon. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Any Sponsors?: UTAH BALANCE OF POWERS ACT – This would provide a mechanism to review and nullify all unconstitutional federal laws. It would create a joint legislative committee that would review every federal law or regulation. If the committee determines the federal law is unconstitutional, it is considered null and void in the state unless the legislature decides to vote otherwise. This would put the onus of these unlawful regulation/laws directly onto our leaders. The bill also contains an enforcement clause, calling on the state to actively resist any attempt to enforce a nullified federal law. “The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution defines the total scope of federal power as including only those powers specifically delegated by the people to the federal government. Those powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people themselves.” The bill then explains why its existence is necessary: “The federal government has acted in a manner inconsistent with the language, intent, and spirit of the United States Constitution in direct violation of the constitution and the contract between this state and its people, and the United States. This state rejects the unauthorized and excessive abuse of power by the federal government that infringes on the rights of this state and its people and that unconstitutionally undermines, diminishes, and disregards the balance of powers between the states and the federal government established by the constitution.” Inspired by Texas House Bill 98 2015