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House advances a bill to aid challenge to Grand Staircase

Urging fellow representatives to stand up for Utah's schoolchildren and the American way by helping bankroll a lawsuit against the federal government, Rep. Glenn Way, R-Spanish Fork, successfully moved HB414 to the Senate Monday afternoon.

The bill would provide $250,000 to aid the lawsuit challenging the formation of the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument. The Utah Association of Counties and the State and Institutional Trust Lands Administration have each filed suit against the federal government over issues related to the monument, although Way said he expects the lawsuits to be joined.The monument enclosed some 176,000 acres of trust lands, for which the state wants some compensation.

"To this date, nothing has been done," Way said. "I honestly believe the state of Utah should be involved in this," Way said.

Calling President Clinton's actions in creating the monument "a gross abuse" of the federal Antiquity Act, Way said the state should take a stand.

"We're talking about billions of dollars for our schoolchildren. We're talking about a process that just stinks," Way said. "Sometimes we need to fight a battle even if we think were going to lose."