States are more dependent on Washington today than ever before. Nearly every state receives at least 30 percent of its annual budget from the federal government. Despite this stark reality, courageous state legislators are emerging to advance local control and federalism, and, in the process, are giving us great encouragement for the future, a future in which states are not so dependent on those in Washington, D.C.
Utah State Representative Ken Ivory is one of those courageous leaders and because of his tireless work in across the West, he is this week’s Federalism All Star.
Rep. Ivory ran for office in 2010, and, since his election, he has remained committed to empowering local citizens to make local decisions in his state. His work has resulted in a Utah that is less dependent on Washington, D.C. then when he first took office.
What motivated Rep. Ivory to get involved in state politics?
“A federal government that was out of control,” he recalls. He wanted to ensure freedom and prosperity for his children and the next generation. Specifically, Rep. Ivory sought to build a firewall between his state and Washington, DC, with the goal of restoring local decision-making in the long-term.
One of the biggest surprises Rep. Ivory faced upon taking office was the realization that much of the legislature is powerless to act.
“It’s not enough just to pass a bill; execution is 90% of the battle,” he said.
Rep. Ivory explained that many state legislators and attorneys are unaware of the rights, powers, and jurisdiction that Utah possesses. As a result, the state fails to act in many instances of federal government overreach. “Jurisdiction that we don’t understand is no better than jurisdiction we don’t have,” he lamented.
This knowledge motivates Rep. Ivory’s actions and efforts as he seeks to educate and reinvigorate the principles of federalism in Utah and beyond.
Federal dependence continues to be a pressing issue in the state. Rep. Ivory was a key leader in the Financial Ready Utah package of bills that passed in 2013. This legislation helps Utah plan for fiscal uncertainty by preparing for a likely reduction in federal funds over the next several years.
“Utah is not unique in our reliance on Washington for funding; however, we have become so dependent on federal dollars that a simple rejection of federal dollars has become increasingly difficult. We realized that we needed to transition off the federal dole. Financial Ready Utah is a critical step in that direction.”
Rep. Ivory is best known for his efforts promoting the Transfer of Public Lands Act in the West.
In states east of Colorado, the federal government has carried out its agreement to dispose of public lands held in trust. In Western states, however, this has not been the case, with over 50% of the total landmass of those states still remaining in federal hands.
Rep. Ivory has been traveling across the country talking to local and state citizens about the positive benefits of restoring local control in the area of land management. His efforts led to the formation of American Lands Council, dedicated to advancing prosperity and self-reliance by restoring local control of public lands in the West.
“It is the only solution big enough.”
Rep. Ivory decried the decades of failed federal land management policies and noted that are destroying forests. “It’s a one-size-fails-all approach,” he said. Moreover, federal land ownership prevents access to natural resources and energy sources that would lead to an economic boon across the nation, not just in the west.
Rep. Ivory’s important efforts to advance federalism, reduce dependence on the federal government, and encourage local decision-making have earned him this week’s Federalism All Star recognition.