The Honorable Michael Waddoups, president of the Utah State Senate, presented and moderated participant discussion at the April 29, 2010 session of the Utah Prosperity Forum. Hosted by the Sutherland Institute, this session addressed “Why Balanced Federalism Is Good for Utah.”
“We’re involved in a cause that needs to be addressed in a committed fashion,” President Waddoups said. “We’re involved in a cause that’s going to save our nation.”
Other presenters included Robin Riggs, vice president and general counsel of the Salt Lake Chamber, and LaVarr Webb, publisher of the popular Utah Policy Daily and partner and founder of The Exoro Group.
Mr. Riggs, who served as legal advisor to former Utah Governor Michael O. Leavitt, observed that federalism is a legal concept, not a political one, noting that states do not have rights, but powers.
“The intent of federalism never was and never should be to protect the power of states,” he said. “It is to protect individual rights.”
Among the many reasons to promote balanced federalism, Mr. Riggs said, are four areas of society and business that flourish within such a system: decentralization, choice, mobility, and plurality.
In his presentation, President Waddoups observed that a recent poll conducted by the Pew organization found that among the Americans polled, 80% do not trust the national government. He also summarized an article he co-authored with the Honorable David Clark, Utah Speaker of the House, recently published in The Washington Post. In A modest proposal to the federal government: Let Utah do it, Utah’s legislative leadership recommended the federal government relinquish control of education, health care, and transportation in Utah to the state’s Legislature, as an experiment to verify that state and local governments can best provide for the needs of citizens residing in Utah.
Mr. Webb made concrete recommendations on how to effectuate the changes needed to restore the proper and necessary balance of power intended by the nation’s Founders.
“State legislators have the power to restore balance, and are really the only ones who do,” he said. “Congress will not relinquish powers back to the states on its own.”
He said it will take Senate Presidents and Speakers of the House of individual state legislatures to stand up and push back in order for real change to occur; in order to reestablish balanced federalism. Because bipartisanship is necessary to accomplish the goal of restoring that proper balance, Mr. Webb said this movement should focus on structural processes and not specific issues. A recording of the entire session can be viewed online by clicking here.