“During the meeting, I sat in a room where not one lawmaker indicated to me the intention of introducing a bill affecting Utah’s 3rd District. Even though I represent this area, I was never contacted by the sponsor or any of the exclusively Democrat co-sponsors. To see them introduce a bill, just hours later, was shocking to me,” he said.

Dennis Romboy

Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. John Curtis cried foul over the way his Democratic colleagues unveiled a bill Wednesday to expand Bears Ears National Monument to more than its original size.

The Utah Republican also opposes the legislation Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., re-introduced to expand the southeastern Utah monument to 1.9 million acres.

Curtis floated a proposal in a House Natural Resources Committee meeting on Wednesday requiring seven days public notice before the panel could act on a bill impacting federal lands unless it is sponsored or co-sponsored by a House member who represents that area.

Democrats rejected the amendment.

“They claimed it was outlandish to change a rule ensuring that locally impacted legislators would need to be given any notice, emphasizing that we all worked in good faith,” Curtis said.

Haaland said in the meeting she understands the sensitivity of public lands issues and assured Republicans that “there is no secret plan to advance legislation without their knowledge or participation. We are committed to operating this committee in a transparent and open manner.”

Curtis complained that a few hours later Haaland, Gallego and 70 co-sponsors introduced the Bears Ears bill affecting only his district and not telling him.

“During the meeting, I sat in a room where not one lawmaker indicated to me the intention of introducing a bill affecting Utah’s 3rd District. Even though I represent this area, I was never contacted by the sponsor or any of the exclusively Democrat co-sponsors. To see them introduce a bill, just hours later, was shocking to me,” he said.

Curtis said the approach isn’t an effective way to resolve public land issues facing San Juan County.

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