States’ Rights?

I’ve often said that I live in the semi-sovereign theocracy of Deseret, and in the last month or so, the state legislature has decided to prove that.  As background, voters in the state voted two initiatives into law.  One legalized various uses of marijuana for medical purposes; the other expanded Medicaid coverage as allowed under federal law.

The medical marijuana initiative was largely supported because, for the last two sessions of the legislature, the legislature voted against all measures to do so, and many felt that was because of the views of the LDS Church.

Why might people suppose that?  It just might be because the Republicans have a super-majority in both the state house and senate, and, interesting enough, 81 of the 82 Republicans are members of the LDS faith, even though only about 63% of the state population is LDS.  The Democrats, all 22 of them, are, as best I can determine, roughly 60% LDS and 40% other faiths, which is, also interestingly enough, close to the belief structure of the state. 

Once the marijuana initiative passed, immediately after the election, the Republicans called a special session, declaring that, as law, the initiative was unsuitable, and immediately went to work to pass legislation to water it down and eliminate certain provisions.  They were successful in doing so, not surprisingly when you consider their faith and majority status.

The second initiative was to expand Medicaid coverage to the additional level allowed, but not required, by federal law. Now that the legislature has convened, the state Senate has passed and sent to the state House legislation to significantly cut back that coverage on the grounds that, some five years from now, it will cost the state some $10 million dollars a year to maintain that coverage.  But the point of the initiative was to cover all of those eligible but not covered, not part of them, and the cost not already in the state budget to the average taxpayer would have been less than $10 per year.

The House speaker has indicated that the measure will pass, and the governor will sign it, and all the Republicans claim that it’s necessary for budgetary prudence, even though the state is running a budgetary surplus, and the legislature is mulling tax cuts… and, oh, yes, the state spends less per student on public education than any state in the union, by a wide margin.

But then, perhaps all this might, just might, have something to do with the fact that the LDS Church insists on a 10% tithe on gross income, and it doesn’t want its members overtaxed.

But… all this might also provide an example of why I’m just a bit leery when people trumpet “states’ rights.”

5 thoughts on “States’ Rights?”

  1. Allan Roth says:

    I take it, from this post, that you do not have a close association with the DezNat movement? 🙂 The name of that movement comes from “Deseret Nation,” and they seem to advocate making a free and independent nation of Deseret.
    I’m working a version of that movement into my current novel.

    1. I have NO association with the DezNat movement, but years ago, when I wrote the second volume[The Ghost of the Revelator] of my “Ghosts” trilogy, it was set in the independent nation of Deseret, which was, of course, what Brigham Young had in mind when he planned the migration to the Salt Lake valley.

    2. Derek says:

      Is there still a DezNat movement in Utah? I’ll admit, I would not be surprised.

  2. Tom says:

    Is most of the Federal Legislation written so as to allow for the States to modify or use to suit their perceived state’s needs? I suppose that would make sense; but surely the Federal administration has different responsibilities from State Legislatures, just as municipal councils have different responsibilities from them both?

    If the feds had written the Medicare coverage to a specific level then the state legislators would not have been able to change the group of people who would get what ever is supposed to suffice for that groups needs. If the financial support for legislation is split between Federal and State sources, then of course, so should the responsibility of determination of coverage.

  3. Wine Guy says:

    Interesting, though not surprising. All you have to do is look at the state in which I live, the People’s Democratic Republic of California, to see what happens with a supermajority that is Democrat.

    p.s. Just read Endgames from start to finish on Nook. Very, very satisfying.

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