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Gov. Mike Leavitt and BYU President Rex Lee have been criticized for their participation at the recent Western States Summit in Phoenix.

The chief reasons for the Western States Summit appear to be tied to federal land issues and action by the Environmental Protection Agency, but there is overwhelming evidence of federal intervention in many other areas that shows complete disregard for states' rights and states' sovereignty.Leavitt and Lee have been accused of joining with "extreme" and "fringe" groups in this summit. The truth is that any movement against the feds will be given those labels. Those who have the insight into what has been happening, and the fortitude to initiate action to correct it, are forced to use "extreme" methods. We cannot depend on Congress to do it. It now has fallen to the states.

State legislatures and local governments are seriously hampered and coerced by federal pre-emption and forced mandates in their attempts to solve local problems.

One such glaring example has been the dictatorial and coercive "blackmail" being employed by the feds in holding back transportation funds until laws are passed at the state level such as speed limits or seat belt usage.

America has gradually become more and more dependent on the federal government to solve its many problems, and in so doing, we have relinquished the primacy of local responsibility and states' rights. We seem to have been happy to shed these responsibilities, and the feds have been happy to take them and apply their "one size fits all" solutions. The result has been that very few of our problems have actually been solved, and most have become more critical.

I believe Leavitt and Lee are to be commended, along with the many legislators and leaders from Utah and other states, for their courage in facing this problem and initiating long overdue action in trying to solve it. We have too few "patriots" who have been willing to tackle the job.

Bill Barton

West Valley City