RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS FROM SENATOR LEE
Would you support legislation repealing SB 54, recognizing the right of political parties to determine the means by which they select and nominate candidates?
As governor, I will repeal SB 54. I am the candidate running for governor who didn’t seek to gather signatures and I believe passionately in a political party’s right to determine its own nominees.
Back in 2014 there was an initiative that was gaining ground gathering signatures by asking people if they’d like 4,000 people to pick the next senator or governor or if they would like a vote in that process. It was a false premise but a real threat, and would have permanently removed the caucus/convention cycle from our election system. In order to keep this from happening, we came with a compromise to preserve the right of parties to continue operating with the caucus/convention system. I believed the courts would agree that political parties have the right to select their own nominees but to this point, that hasn’t happened. When we had an opportunity for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court and finally put the issue to rest, the Herbert-Cox administration refused to support a hearing. It’s time to repeal SB 54 and preserve the system that has served Utah so well.
Utah has long been applauded as the best-run state in the nation, but we still have plenty of problems. What are the top five changes you would make to state law?
This question can’t really be addressed without considering the context of the times we’re currently in. This is not the time to recite textbook answers. We have difficult and challenging times ahead and our next governor needs to be focused on that reality.
- As we seek to address the challenges coming our way, we have to have a focus on economic recovery. As governor, I will look to the entire state to assess the needs that exist throughout, rather than being so hyper-focused on just the four counties along the Wasatch Front.
- We’re penned in as a state, with 67% federal lands and even greater proportions out in many rural counties. We will not see economic growth and prosperity spread throughout the state to the degree that it should until we have greater control of the lands within our borders.
- We will have to address the budget. We are going to see massive gaps in what we have by way of revenue and tax collection versus what the State of Utah has typically funded. With the government shutting down this economy, we’re not enjoying many of the activities that fund the government through taxes and consequently, the state will be facing unprecedented budget difficulties. This is precisely the time to make the hard cuts. Nothing about this will be easy, it never is, but the fact of the matter is that the state doesn’t print money. It is required to balance its budget. We are going to have to make hard decisions and I have a history of doing just that.
- There is going to be a gravitational pull toward more federal funds like you have never seen. That’s simply the climate we’re in. Right now, everybody wants to be held harmless. I’m afraid, though, that there’s nothing harmless about this pandemic, the economic halt that we’re living through, or the tax collection that simply isn’t happening. We cannot afford to be a part of the clamoring for more and more federal funds. Those dollars always come with strings attached and the more we accept, the less control we have over our state and our own budget. The best decisions will be made by state lawmakers and your governor going forward.
- One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned from the times we’re in right now is that the declaration of a state of emergency and health department orders have the power to threaten our constitutional liberties. These powers were never meant to be so broad and so open-ended in time. They were always meant to be used to address acute emergencies or natural disasters, but we’re seeing something very different right now. These laws need to be redrafted and pulled in, to frame the very specific emergencies that a state or local government might confront.
What would you change about our state’s public education system? Would you support a voucher system? What support should the state provide to parents who homeschool their children, either in connection with COVID19 or otherwise?
We have to take the turf out of this issue. Too often when we talk about public education, the focus is on the needs and desires of the adults. Students, who should be the North Star of this discussion, are too often left out entirely. We need to empower parents to make the best decisions for their children, the students. All of the various educational opportunities out there for our students, from traditional public schools to public charter schools, to private and online schools, and homeschooling need to be pursued. Parents should be free to find the way that is best for their own individual children.
The federal government owns roughly 2/3 of the land in Utah. While essentially no one in Utah wants to disturb national parks, national recreation areas, wilderness areas designated by Congress, or military installations, most federal land in Utah doesn’t fit into any of those categories, and keeping all of that land under federal control inflicts great harm on our state’s economy, environment, tax base, affordable-housing market, and public education system. How much of Utah should the federal government own, and what changes to state and federal law would you support in this area?
The federal government shouldn’t own or control any more land in Utah than they do in any state east of the Rockies. But they do. In Utah they own a full 67%.
We know that we can manage our lands better, closer to the people, than some far away federal bureaucracy. SITLA has been a great model for how we can, in a smart and measured way, develop some lands while leaving and protecting our great national parks and recreation areas.
In 1976, Congress passed FLPMA, which changed the longstanding process of the federal government transferring land into state management. That law is unconstitutional. We aren’t being treated the same as other states east of the Rockies. As governor, I will work with our state legislature, our federal delegation, and our attorney general to take action on the many state resolutions that have been passed over the years urging Utah to defend its right to manage its own lands. I’m willing to take that fight to the Supreme Court, and we will win.
What is the purpose of government?
The fundamental purpose of government is to protect our liberties and provide security.
Setting aside specific constitutional prohibitions, what are five things that no government, state or federal, should ever do?
I have what I call the phone book test, from back when we actually used phone books. Any services or business that could be found in a phone book should not be performed by the government at any level. And there are a lot more of those than five!
Should any person in Utah be denied equal protection under the law, based solely on whether the person in question has been born?
No, of course not! I am unapologetically pro-life, and all those who are have to be vigilant. The line keeps shifting and in recent years, we’ve seen the definition of abortion moving later and later, to the point where some are now defining it outside the mother’s womb. Let’s be clear – that is infanticide. We need to be strong and unafraid in our protection of the sanctity of life.
Please identify five ways in which governments pick “winners and losers” in the economy, indicating whether you support or oppose each approach.
Cronyism is never a good thing for our country. It undermines confidence and trust, distorts markets, and violates the general welfare clause.
Please explain why you are a Republican, what it means to be a conservative, and whether or to what extent the word “conservative” describes your approach to public policy.
It was during a Presidential debate in October 1980 between Democrat President Jimmy Carter, Republican Ronald Reagan and Independent John Anderson that I determined my political leanings. I had just turned 11 years old. While watching TV, I asked my babysitter what the elephant was for. She told me that it was the symbol of the Republicans. I then asked about the donkey and she responded that it was the symbol for the Democrats. Turns out the other guy didn’t even have a symbol, which wasn’t cool at all. I said, “Well, I’m with the elephants before I’ll ever be with the jack asses!”
My instincts, over time, have grown into rock ribbed, unabashed conviction. I’m with the elephants all the way!
Do you support President Trump’s re-election?
I strongly support President Trump’s re-election. In 2016, I supported then-candidate Trump and was the only state Speaker of the House to endorse him. That same year, I chaired his election campaign here in Utah and I’ve continued to stick with him through all the efforts to malign and damage him. He’s done great work for this state and for this country. Without a doubt, we need to see him re-elected.