RIVERDALE — U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop said many of the problems facing the nation are a result of the federal government usurping the rights of the states and managing resources that should be handled at the local level.
At town hall meetings Tuesday night at Layton City Hall and Riverdale City Senior Center, Bishop, R-Utah, addressed voters’ concerns regarding education, immigration, “Obamacare,” the West Davis Corridor and the future of Hill Air Force Base.
“If you truly want to be able to fund services in the state of Utah, you have to have access to the resources that are in the state of Utah,” Bishop said, citing the one-third of Utah that is controlled by the federal government.
Bishop argued there is a specific correlation between state lands and the ability to fund specific state programs.
He compared the education funding in Eastern states, which have relatively little federally controlled land, to Western states with higher percentages of federal lands.
He said Eastern states have increased their education spending at twice the rate of the Western states in recent years.
“Private properties are the only things that are taxable,” he said. “The federal government controls one-third of all the land (in Western states.) They have the hardest time funding their public education systems.”
“The state wants to take over use of federal lands so the state can run programs — some will be preserved, some would be local use, and some will be used for development,” he said.
Bishop also blamed federally controlled lands for some immigration issues.
He said many of the areas in Arizona where illegal immigrants cross the border into the U.S. are in federally controlled wilderness lands.
Because of laws regarding these wilderness areas, Border Patrol agents are not allowed to use motorized vehicles to apprehend the drug smugglers and illegal immigrants who are using vehicles. Bishop said he wants to remove restrictions on Border Patrol agents.
Bishop again emphasized the need for states’ rights as he answered questions regarding the president’s health care program.
He said it’s the wrong approach and that health care should be a state decision.
Bishop also was asked about local issues such as the expansion of the West Davis Corridor and the future of Hill Air Force Base.
In regard to the West Davis Corridor, Bishop said he prefers the route with the least impact on homes. He said he has talked to UDOT officials and asked that wetland issues not be an impediment to the decision.
Regarding Hill Air Force Base, he said he opposes and will vote against additional cuts to military spending. The base, he said, provides important services that will ensure its viability.
Addressing a large crowd at the Riverdale City Senior Center, 4433 S. 900 West, Bishop discussed a variety of issues including presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s pick of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, as his vice presidential running mate.
“He (Ryan) will focus on the economy,” said Bishop. “He’s very articulate. He’s a nice guy.”
Bishop, in response to a question from an audience member, also said he doesn’t see Washington lobbyists as a problem for lawmakers.
“I’m not opposed to lobbyists,” he said, adding that most members of Congress aren’t swayed by the free gifts they offer. “Good lobbyists share information.”
Reporter Scott Schwebke contributed to this story.