In a meeting Thursday with the Utah House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Jim Matheson pledged to fight the GOP's efforts to repeal the healthcare reform law and identified economic recovery and job growth as the top issues before the 2011 Congress.
In a wide-ranging discussion with House and Senate Democrats, Matheson also addressed concerns about a recent U.S. Interior Department decision to open and increase wild lands in Utah without first consulting state officials. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar failed to notify Utah officials on the policy change last December. His decision has been at the core of several Republican bills, which challenge the role of federal government in state business.
"No one really knows what [the Salazar decision] means," Matheson said. He added that the model for dealing with the federal government on wilderness is the 2009 Washington County land use bill–a careful compromise between the Interior Department, Congress, county leaders and environmental groups. Matheson and former U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett are credited with bipartisan effort in getting the legislation passed.