- Associated Press - Monday, January 23, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Latest on the start of the 2017 Utah legislative session (all times local):

12:05 p.m.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says President Donald Trump’s inauguration comments about transferring power back from Washington. D.C. and “giving it back to you, the people” were encouraging.

Niederhauser, a Sandy Republican, kicked off the opening day of Utah’s 2017 legislative session with a speech on the Senate floor in which he said Trump may bring more authority to states. Utah’s leaders, particularly Republicans, have long complained that they feel the federal government and former President Barack Obama’s White House overstepped their authority.

Niederhauser used his opening speech to also criticize Obama’s December declaration of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, citing it as an example of that overreach.

He says that whether someone agrees or disagrees with the public land designation, no one person should be able to make such a big decision.


11:35 a.m.

House Speaker Greg Hughes says Salt Lake City’s overflowing downtown homeless shelter is not just a local problem but a state crisis that the Legislature needs to tackle.

The Draper Republican, who has worked closely with Salt Lake City’s mayor on the issue, made the comments Monday during a speech in the House of Representatives as lawmakers met for the first day of their 2017 session.

Utah lawmakers already set aside more than $9 million toward four new shelters and programs and this year, advocates are asking the state for $27 million for the effort for 2017 and 2018.

Hughes warned that Utah will not write a blank check and will seek accountability as the money is spent.

He said crime in the area, including drug dealing, goes on in broad daylight and will need to be tackled as well.


11:15 a.m.

House Speaker Greg Hughes says he’s calling on President Donald Trump to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument named by Barack Obama in December, calling the federal protections for 1.35 million acres in southern Utah “a great overstep.”

Hughes, a Republican, criticized the monument during his opening address Monday to the Utah House of Representatives as the Legislature returned for its first day of 2017 business. The heavily GOP House gave Hughes a standing ovation for the remarks.

A coalition of American Indian tribes pushed the Obama administration to create the monument for the sacred tribal land known as Bears Ears, but Utah Republican leaders and rural residents say it’s too restrictive and adds another layer of unnecessary federal control.

Trump has not publicly commented on the Bears Ears monument.


8 a.m.

Utah lawmakers are returning for their 45-day annual session and are expected to take up a proposal for medical marijuana and a measure to toughen the state’s hate crimes law.

They’ll also try to find more money for public schools.

Other proposals include lowering Utah’s blood-alcohol limit for drivers to .05 percent and allowing Utah residents to carry a hidden, unloaded gun without a permit. The governor vetoed a similar gun bill in the past.

Their return to business Monday will be met by an afternoon march by a group of Utah women.

The event is organized by the group Utah Women Unite and is a spinoff of the massive Women’s March on Washington over the weekend.

It was organized by women dismayed at President Donald Trump’s election.

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