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The Utah Intrastate Commerce Project



Utah's Tenth Amendment Center is launching a special program to help develop laws that exempt Utah business from federal regulations so long as the commerce stays in our fair state.---

Recent legislative sessions have begun the process of challenging federal authority by seeking to allow states to regulate their own affairs wherever those commercial interests remain in the state and thus are arguably not subject to federal purview. As Connor Boyack of the Tenth Amendment Center writes of the Constitution’s commerce clause: “Like a plastic surgery addict, this constitutional provision has become entirely unrecognizable from its original form.”

That’s why the center launched its Utah Intrastate Commerce Project as “a vehicle to draft and promote additional legislation that will enable Utah legislators to fulfill their duty and position their shield between the federal government and the people of this state.” The project uses the example of legislation like 2010’s SB11 which followed Montana’s lead and sought to exempt federal regulation of guns that were manufactured and sold within the state.

To that end the Utah Intrastate Commerce Project is championing a tentative piece of legislation for the 2011 Legislature by Rep. Bill Wright that would exempt Utah farmers from federal agricultural regulations on products cultivated and sold within the state. The project hopes this would give small farmers who sell their goods in farmers markets and CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) cooperatives a chance at survival in this harsh economic climate.

The project is a bold gambit, especially since states rights’ bills have yet to survive a full legal challenge. Utah’s SB11, while a rebuke to the feds, is also one that would not go into effect if Montana’s Firearms Freedom Act is shot down in the courts. So far that bill, which went into effect in October 2009, has been fighting its way to the top of the judiciary. It was dismissed in the Montana District Court on Oct. 19, 2010, but plaintiffs for Montana filed for appeal to the 9th District Court of Appeals on Dec. 2 2010, and have planned on taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

The question remains whether or not a Supreme Court defeat on a bill like Montana’s could be the kiss-of-death for other states’ rights bills that challenge the feds use of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Either way, new projects like the Utah Intrastate Commerce Project intend on pushing the issue as far as possible. “It’s time for Utah to increasingly assert its powers nowhere delegated to the federal government, and object to their unlawful arrogation,” reads the project’s website.