Rep. Tom Hatch of Utah is less than pleased with President Clinton for creating the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument last year. The move may have pleased environmentalists, tourists, and a few wild animals, but according to a resolution sponsored by the Republican legislator, the move could hurt Utah schoolchildren.
Utah lawmakers are now considering the resolution from Mr. Hatch, a cattle rancher and insurance executive, which urges the state's institutional-trust-lands administration to examine the possibility of litigation against the federal government.
According to the resolution, more than 176,000 of the 1.7 million acres included in the monument territory are school trust land. If the land goes undeveloped because it is now a national park, Utah schools could lose out on billions of dollars in potential income over the next several years, said Dave Hebertson, a spokesman for the trust-lands administration. ("Revenue Lost From Utah Monument Lamented," Oct. 9, 1996.)
Mr. Hebertson said, however, that litigation may not be a likely course of action. State officials are now negotiating with the federal government for compensation of lost funds.
"If the government said, 'Here's $25 billion. Take it and hit the road,' we'd say show us the check and the path," he said.
Until the money arrives, however, Utah officials are showing their displeasure over what they see as federal intrusion. If passed, Mr. Hatch's resolution would be sent to Mr. Clinton, the vice president, the speaker of the House, and the secretary of the interior.
As a bit of payback, another bill in the Utah House would declare actor Robert Redford's Sundance Resort near Provo a state wilderness. Mr. Redford is an activist on environmental causes and favored Mr. Clinton's move to create the Grand Staircase park.
A colorado lawmaker is fighting to earmark $50,000 to help the state's top students make the trip to out-of-state academic contests.
The Senate education committee unanimously approved the bill by GOP Sen. Don Ament to create a "National Academic Contest Fund." Mr. Ament said that some trips should not have to be paid for through proceeds of car washes, bake sales, and door-to-door canvassing by students.
Contests over who should get the money would be judged by the state school board.
--LAURA LANG & LONNIE HARP