Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Wait patiently for 4th House seat" By Retired Congressman Jim Hansen

It seems that many of our elected officials in Utah have completely embraced the idea that whatever it takes, we go all out to get a fourth congressional seat before the next census.

The job of reapportioning the state is the responsibility of the state Legislature. I know that a job in the Legislature is difficult, having served in that body as a member and also as speaker of the House. I appreciate and compliment them on the fine work they do. If there is a chink in their armor, it is when they have taken on the task of reapportioning the federal congressional districts. Possibly it is because many of them feature themselves walking the halls of Congress in the future. There is nothing wrong with good and experienced legislators aspiring to go to Washington, and many of our best federal legislators come from state legislative bodies.

However, reapportionment should not be used to gerrymander a safe district for anyone or to give an unfair advantage. In my 22 years as a congressman, my biggest disappointment has been the cavalier approach to the congressional reapportionment. It is not what the Legislature normally does, and unfortunately, it is usually not done well.

Our sister states of Arizona and Idaho could see the problem and formed advisory councils to handle reapportionment. Both states, that I am aware of, are very satisfied with the outcome.

Frankly, Utah is being used to the detriment of the country. Legislators here told me their only job was to draw a map, give it to Congress and wash their hands of it. That is not true. By doing that map and sending it to Congress, they have pulled the trigger and started a sequence of events that could be detrimental to the country.

Many argue that the District of Columbia should have a vote, as it is taxed without representation. This small piece of ground (38,000 acres) is not a state (see the Constitution). There have been several good attempts to incorporate the District of Columbia into Maryland. Maryland would then receive an additional House member and would already have its two senators. This brings up the real issue: The District of Columbia wants not only to have a voting representative but two senators as well. How else would it have equal representation? If this bill should become law, anyone could guarantee an immediate outcry for two additional senators. No place in America is more liberal, far left and different than the District of Columbia. I don't know of a Western Democrat who subscribes to the political philosophy of those who are and have been elected in the District of Columbia. On top of all that, count on numerous lawsuits. If the District of Columbia gets a vote, what will Guam, American Samoa and Puerto Rico do? Now the final question is what advantage is there to the state of Utah to receive a seat right now instead of patiently waiting for the next census?

The answer is probably nothing. I challenge anyone who is pushing this idea to show me one piece of legislation that would benefit Utah or the country, that one more vote from Utah would affect the outcome. I can't find one over the last 10 years.

So if we continue to push this ill-conceived idea, we plow new ground, challenge the Constitution, throw the Senate to the far left, possibly a very expensive cost to the state, and really with no political benefit.

I would urge the Legislature not to be so excited about this idea and follow the normal procedure of the next census. Patience is a great virtue.

The preceding article was an op ed piece published on December 28, 2006 in the Deseret Morning News. It was written by James V. Hansen, Former US Representative from the First Congressional District of Utah.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Salt Lake County Republicans Reject Rushing New 4th Congressional Seat

I am pleased to report that on Saturday, December 2, 2006, the Central Committee of the Salt Lake County Republican Party voted overwhelmingly to adopt a resolution, introduced by Jeremy and Amy Roberts, expressing OPPOSITION to the proposed federal legislation seeking to immediately create new congressional seats for Utah and the District of Columbia. Instead, the party voiced its SUPPORT for waiting until after the next census to legitimately obtain additional representation for Utah independently of the District of Columbia.

I was proud of both the party unity displayed in the lopsided vote, as well as the principled course my fellow Republicans advocated for the good of our country. It bolstered my faith in the ability of grassroots citizens to understand complicated concepts and to arrive at wise decisions. It is my hope that this act will provide additional motivation and political support for our elected representatives who seek to strengthen constitutional authority within the United States.

Thus, I hereby urge our governor, state legislators, and federal congressional delegation to do all in their power to send a clear and unmistakable message back to the nation’s capitol that Utah would rather wait until after the next census to legitimately and constitutionally obtain an additional seat in Congress. What little we would gain in the near term by rushing after the proposed fourth seat now, is not worth the damage that would be done to the nation in the long run.

The full text of the resolution follows:


Whereas, in 1911 Congress limited the House of Representatives to 435 members;

Whereas, Apportionment of the 435 Congressional seats among the states depends on the size of the population in each state,

Whereas, Current population growth in Utah will prescribe a Fourth and possibly a Fifth Congressional seat within the next 5 years;

Whereas, Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States reads: “Representation…shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers…within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct”;

Whereas, The Republican Party supports strict construction of the Constitution and believes giving representation to Washington DC is unconstitutional;

Whereas, In 1978, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have given full congressional voting representation to residents of the District of Columbia passed through both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives;

Whereas, In 1985, when the seven year limit on ratification of the amendment set within the Congressional resolution adopting it expired, the amendment had only passed in 16 of 38 states necessary;

Whereas, This latest fiasco is clearly an attempt by Democrats to get via legislation what they could not get via a Constitutional amendment;

Whereas, This sets the precedent for Washington DC to get Senate seats and Puerto Rico, Guan, American Samoa, and citizens living abroad to get voting seats;

Whereas, The GOP would be giving up decades of population shift in our favor;

Whereas, There is no reason to give the Democrats a safe seat in Washington DC when we get our safe GOP seats for free if we just wait a bit; therefore be it:

Resolved, The Salt Lake County Republican Party does not support current efforts to immediately secure a Fourth Congressional Seat for the State of Utah;

Resolved, That the Salt Lake County Republican Party admonishes Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. and the state legislature to be prudent and patient by waiting until after the 2010 census to change congressional boundaries;

Resolved, That the Salt Lake County Republican Party admonishes Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Robert Bennett, Congressman Chris Cannon and Congressman Rob Bishop to be prudent and patient by waiting until after the 2010 census to secure a Fourth and possible Fifth seat for Utah, and,

Resolved, That a copy of this resolution be mailed to each member of our Republican state and federal delegation.

Respectfully submitted November 17, 2006 by Jeremy Roberts, Legislative District 41 Chair, and Amy Roberts, former County Party Secretary