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President Niederhauser’s Opening Remarks
President Niederhauser opened the 2017 Legislative session by calling for a rebalance of power between the State and Federal Governments and celebrating Utah’s participation and leadership in women’s suffrage. Below is the text his speech:
“For the last two years, we having been hearing a lot about “Making America Great Again”. Last Friday, it culminated in the inauguration of our 45th President, Donald Trump.
This phrase has sparked a lot of discussion and debate. It has raised questions like:
What does this phrase mean?
Isn’t America great today?
When did America loose it greatness?
What does a great America look like and how does it feel?
I think there are as many answers to these questions as there are people in our country.
For me “Making America Great Again” means rebalancing the power of the States and the Federal Government.
The Constitutional Convention was convened to address the failing “Articles of Confederation”. The union of the states was in trouble due to the overwhelming power of the states. The Constitution that followed preserved our nation. Now, over two centuries has pasted and we have seen this balance tilt the other way. Now, our nation is threatened by the overwhelming power of the Federal Government.
This is evidenced by:
Our budgets (Money is Power)
The combined total of all the State’s Spending for FY2015 according to the National Association of State Budget Officers was: $1.3 Trillion without Federal Funding. ($1.9 Trillion with Federal Funding)
Total Federal Spending for FY2015 according to the Congressional Budget Office: $3.7 Trillion
Almost triple that of the combined states.
It is evidenced by the Intense Partisanship and Inability of Washington to Effectively Pass and Deal with Issues
This is because the Federal Government was never intended to be so comprehensive. It has become an example of top down one size fits all government. The vision of the founders was to spread power over multiple layers of government in order to prevent any concentration of power. Most issues should be dealt with in our state houses and our city halls, not Washington DC.
History shows us that the centralization of power is controlling and corrupting.
Centralized Government was the very thing the Founding Fathers were trying to eliminate. It was, in essence, what they saw in the British government. They saw it is a threat to the power of the people.
Thomas Jefferson, wrote in a letter to C. Hammond in 1821:
“…whenever all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal (veenl) and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”
Federalist Paper #46 is titled “The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared,” and speaks extensively to the fact that the States were a safeguard to protect against an over-extended influence of the Federal Government.
So “Making America Great Again” means for me a period of decentralization of power. Send the power back to the states and the people as contemplated by the 10th Amendment.
I am encouraged by the word’s of President Trump in his inaugural address. He said:
“Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another — but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth…The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”
The proof will be in the results. Every administration for decades whether Democrat or Republican have been centralizing power and diminishing the jurisdiction of the states.
On a recent visit to Washington DC, several members of our federal delegation challenged me to prepare a list of grievances regarding unfunded mandates, regulations and the over-reaching policies of the Federal Government, for them to address in the coming months. The Speaker and I want to accommodate their request.
Therefore, we are going to authorize meetings during the session for our Commission on Federalism to meet and create a list for us to send back to Washington for consideration and action. Senator Christensen and Representive Ivory are the co-chairs of the Commission.
Today, I am challenging the legislature and staff, our State Divisions and Departments, our local governments and foremost the people of this state to send us your ideas.
The Republicans have bemoaned the past eight years of Democratic control of the White House. Now, I am hearing extreme concern from my Democratic friends over the prospects of the next 2 to 8 years. The shoe is on the other foot.
So, I want to suggest to all no matter your affiliation or party that Instead of dealing with this cycle of trouble from Washington over and over again, let’s join together to bring power back to the states.
I call upon my legislative colleagues across this country to join together and build a barrier around state jurisdiction and guard it jealously. Even though I am encouraged by the talk coming from Washington DC now, I don’t think they will give up the power on their own. We will need to hold their feet to fire.
Another example of overreaching power is the designation of “Bears Ears” as a National Monument. The nature of the overreach is a little different than I have discussed previously today, but none-the-less it is an example of unchecked power; a top down, run-over, process lacking decision. It begs the question: Should one person be allowed to make decisions of that magnitude unilaterally? I am not going discuss the merits of the decision. There are people and arguments on both sides. My concern is with the process and the unbridled power of the office of President in these situations.
I understand that the Antiquities Act has been deemed legal, but is it wise? For those in favor of the new monument, I ask: what if our new President acts with unilateral executive power to change policy you don’t like, how would you feel about that? I suspect you would be as angry as those who oppose the monument designation. Therefore, let us all join together and make sure that no one person has that kind of power going forward without the representatives of the people. It is dictatorial and tyrannical. Congress and the president are suppose to be a check and balance on each other to make sure that the people are heard and represented in these decisions.
I personally question the ability of Congress to give such power to a president in the first place. Should Congress be able by any act or legislation give up their constitutional authority?
-The US Constitution Article IV Section 3 gives Congress the power to “make all needful Rules and Regulation respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”
-It is a right explicitly given to Congress and should stay with Congress.
Federalist Papers #51 States:
- “It is equally evident, that the members of each department should be as little dependent as possible on those of the others…the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”
When the Constitution was written, this right was delegated to Congress along with the power necessary to fulfill it. I don’t believe that they should be able to delegate such power or any power like it. We need fewer executive orders and more acts of Congress and the President working together for the good of all people and interests.
Shifting gears, I want to begin an awareness of a significant celebration to come.
As this decade nears its end, we here in Utah will lay the foundation for celebrating two significant anniversaries. First, the year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of women first voting in Utah. This was the place where women first voted in the United States or it’s territories. On February 14, 1870, Seraph Young cast a ballot in a municipal election, marking a new era for women in this country and around the world. This event is depicted in a mural on the ceiling of our House chamber.
Secondly, the year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment regarding women’s right to vote nationally. Utah women such as Emmeline B Wells and Martha Hughes Cannon worked with Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to ensure the rights of all American women.
Highlighting these two corresponding events now is intended to create anticipation and common knowledge of the celebration ahead and to acknowledge Utahs participation and leadership in women’s suffrage.
A Utah organization, named Better Days, is dedicated to making sure Utah does take a lead in 2020. Through a range of legislative, educational, and creative projects, Better Days will make popular the past to inspire conversations about our future. Telling the stories of our women in creative and communal ways will open doors to conversations about how we can continue these legacies. As state legislators, we need to support and participate in this important work and celebration of Utah’s history.
An obviously debated issue in its day, Women’s Suffrage had many proponents.
Heber M. Wells, first governor of the state of Utah stated in 1902:
“The lawmakers seem to be afraid of enfranchising women because of the deteriorating effect which politics might have on womankind. If this be true let the experience of Utah speak. For six years’ women in this State have had the right to vote and hold office. Have the wheels of progress stopped? Instead we have bounded forward with seven-league boots. Have the fears and predictions of the local opponents of woman suffrage been verified? Have women degenerated into low politicians, neglecting their homes and stifling the noblest emotions of womanhood? On the contrary women are respected quite as much as they were before Statehood.”
“The plain facts are that in this State the influence of woman in politics has been distinctly elevating. In the primary, in the convention and at the polls her very presence inspires respect for law and order. Experience has shown that women have voted their intelligent convictions. They understand the questions at issue and they vote conscientiously and fearlessly.”
“For one I am proud of Utah’s record in dealing with her female citizens … and I look forward with eager hope to the day when woman suffrage shall become universal.”
First published in Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Haprer, The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4 (New York: Fowler & Wells, 1902)
(Seven-league boots are an element in European folklore. The boot allows the person wearing them to take strides of seven leagues per step resulting in great speed.)
Orson F. Whitney, prominent leader and historian, and champion of woman’s suffrage said:
“It is woman’s destiny to have a voice in the affairs of government. She was designed for it. She has a right to it. This great social upheaval, this woman’s movement that is making itself heard and felt, means something more than that certain women are ambitious to vote and hold office. I regard it as one of the great levers by which the Almighty is lifting up this fallen world, lifting it nearer to the throne of its Creator…”
Utah, Constitutional Convention, 1895, Official Report of the Proceedings and Debates (2 vols., Salt Lake City, 1898)
Lastly, I want to highlight one of our own. Martha Hughes Cannon. (1)
Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, affectionately called “Mattie”, is one of the most prominent female politicians in Utah’s history. By the age of 25, she had graduated from the University of Deseret, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania with her degrees in medicine. She returned to Utah to establish a private medical practice, and served as a resident physician at Deseret Hospital.
In the beginning of statehood, the new Utah Constitution once again gave women the right to vote which ironically had been suppressed by federal law and they were also given the added right of holding office. The Constitution was adopted and Statehood granted in January of 1896.
Dr. Cannon would become the first first female state senator in Utah and the in the United States. (2) We honor her with a statue in the North Plaza.
In November of 1896, she participated in an “At-Large” election for State Senate, one of her principle contenders being her husband Angus along with Emmeline B. Wells. She won one of the five seats, beating her husband, and becoming the first woman in the United States to hold the office of State Senator. During the race, the Salt Lake Herald joked that “Mrs. Mattie Hughes Cannon, his wife (speaking of Angus), is the better man of the two. Send Mrs. Cannon to the State Senate…”
The Second General Session for the State of Utah convened on January 11th 1897, just a little over 120 years ago today, where Martha Hughes Cannon along with other new Senators took the Oath of Office administered by Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Zane. (3 &4)
Mattie Cannon was an ardent Democrat committed to issues that affected women and children. She established Utah’s State Board of Health, the Utah State School for the Deaf, the first training school for nurses in the state, and introduced legislation that would protect the health of women and children, and provide education for the deaf. During her third year as a state senator, while expecting her third child, Senator Cannon served as chairman of the Public Health Committee. She was an active voice in Utah’s suffrage movement, and spoke in conferences and councils in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York, and Utah, advocating for woman’s suffrage throughout the nation.
Madsen, Carol Cornwall: Battle for the Ballot; Essays on Woman Suffrage in Utah, 1870-1896; Utah, Utah State University Press; 1997
She served two terms, and then later in life moved to Los Angeles for her health. She passed away in California in 1932.
This years Senate Coin highlights Martha Hughes Cannon as the first woman state senator. Unfortunately, the coins are not here, but a depiction of the coin is displayed on the screen. The coins will be here later this week.
Front: Senate Seal
Back: Martha Hughes Cannon and this quote from her: “No privileged class either of sex, wealth or descent should be allowed to arise or exist. All persons should have the legal right to be the equal of every other.”
We will make sure that each of you get one after they arrive.
This ends my remarks this morning. Thank you for your attention and indulgence and may God Bless us and this session for the benefit of the people of Utah.”