Lawmakers who want to seize control of federal lands are pushing a legal battle they insist is winnable despite multiple warnings their effort is highly unconstitutional and almost sure to fail in court.
Utah is poised to become the first state to pass a package of bills that demand the federal government relinquish claims to huge sections of public land. A proposal that advanced Wednesday demands that by 2014 the federal government cede control of nearly 30 million acres — nearly 50 percent of the entire state.
A bill setting an identical deadline is also moving in the Arizona Legislature.
Rep. Ken Ivory, who is leading the effort in Utah and helped draft model legislation for use in other states, said the federal government doesn’t treat states like equal partners in land management.
“If sovereignty means anything, it means not having to say pretty please, or mother may I,” Ivory said.