Amy Joi O’Donoghue – Deseret News
Much like the Utah Legislature used outside legal counsel in its ethics probe of then-Attorney General John Swallow, independent legal advice will be sought for Utah’s public lands quest.
A Tuesday vote by the Legislative Management Committee gave approval to the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands to pursue a request for proposals from law firms in the spring.
Democratic members of the management committee balked at the move, with Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, citing concern over what could end up being a blank check for the effort.
“My concern is I am not sure how much money I am committing to this process,” Briscoe said, adding that litigation in the public lands war could drag on for a decade a more.
House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said the Tuesday vote was not an approval for a contractual amount but will simply get the request-for-proposals process started once the legislative session ends in March.
“There is no money associated with this,” Lockhart said, explaining the vote.
Commission Chairman Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, said later that members want a legal analysis of the state’s case for getting control of federal lands and what strategies Utah could potentially launch. (…)