For the most part, U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen found himself preaching to the choir in a visit to the City Council Wednesday.

In response to council members' questions, Hansen sounded conservative themes of less federal government, fewer regulations on states and municipalities and no unfunded federal mandates.Basically, he echoed what City Manager Tom Hardy said in a memo to the council: "We respectfully request that the federal government `butt out' of our affairs."

Hansen and city officials both emphasized their belief that local governments are more efficient and more effective than their federal counterpart. National regulations merely make local governments' jobs harder, they said.

"What's good for New York City may not be good for Bountiful, Utah," Hansen said. "We (city councils) are the ones who bury the dead . . . who provide culinary water. We are the ones who get the job done."

Hansen himself served on the Farmington City Council at the beginning of his political career.

"There are all sorts of rules that, if the federal government would rescind, we could do a lot better job," Hardy said. He cited the problems Bountiful has had with the U.S. Forest Service in exchanging land next to Bountiful for land east of the city in the mountains.

"The response of the Forest Service has been that there is no benefit to to exchange property with Bountiful, because they know that the city will not use the land it owns in the mountains for anything other than watershed protection," Hardy said in the memo to the council. "In other words, the city of Bountiful is being penalized for being a good steward of public lands."

Hansen answered that, in his soon-to-be-assumed position as chairman of the National Parks, Forests and Lands subcommittee of the House Resources Committee, "I think we have more of an opportunity to help you than we ever had.

"President Clinton and Al Gore said they wanted to reinvent government. We want to reduce government."

(Presumably Hansen will avoid the arrogance of other chairmen, whom he styled as "little tin gods.")

Council members also worried about the federal government cutting taxes while still running a budget deficit.

"I am very concerned about the debt," Councilman Harold Shafter said. "(I'm) getting fed up with the federal government being carried on the back of the working man."

Hansen responded that he is readying a balanced budget constitutional amendment proposal, and added, "I'll walk the political plank, and be happy to do it, if we can get some of these things done.

"The federal money, I think people don't realize how much money we're talking about here."

Hansen quoted one pundit who quipped, regarding federal spending, "A billion here, a billion there - pretty soon we're talking big money."

Councilwoman Ann Wilcox expressed her dissatisfaction with the federal crime bill passed last fall and asked Hansen where he planned to reduce the burden on local governments.

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"This bill takes our local money, and we haven't seen the benefits," she said.

Hansen answered that he has a bill that would require all federal mandates directed to state or local governments to be either federally funded or wholly optional. That had council members nodding their heads in agreement.

Hansen told the council he is readying a term limitations package to be submitted the first day of the legislative session, notwithstanding the 14 years he has been in Congress.

"I will fall on my own sword, if necessary," he said. "The only thing I can see, with all its downsides, is term limitations . . . I'm a believer."

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