ST. GEORGE — Washington County Commission declared the county a “sanctuary for constitutional rights and freedoms” through a resolution passed Tuesday.
The resolution – which grew out of repeated requests from residents to have the county declared a Second Amendment sanctuary, Commissioner Victor Iverson said – unanimously passed during Tuesday’s commission meeting.
“We are duty-bound to protect these rights and freedoms and commit that the actions we take at the County Commission ensure that constitutional rights are safeguarded in Washington County,” Iverson said as he read the resolution.
Though the resolution mentions the First, Second, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Constitution specifically, it states overall that individual rights and freedoms seen as guaranteed by that document will be upheld within Washington County.
“For some time there’s been a lot of anxiety on government actions on a variety of levels that have effect on the individual freedoms and constitution freedoms, especially in regard to the Second Amendment,” Iverson said. “The discussion we kept coming back to is: it’s not just the Second Amendment that finds itself under assault now.”
Iverson said it was for this reason that they intended for the resolution to declare that the Washington County Commission and Washington County elected officials will protect constitutional freedoms.
He also pointed to recent health policies enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic that restricted the ability of people to assemble and worship together as running against constitutional freedoms. While Utah wasn’t as restrictive in this regard as some other states, he nonetheless stated such public health policy had threatened personal rights and freedoms.
“No public policy should violate any of the constitutional freedoms,” he said.
Gil Almquist, the commission chair, said similar resolutions have been passed across the county as local elected officials are becoming increasingly concerned about overreach from the federal government.
“There have been individual counties that have adopted this to make their statement to support the Constitution,” Almquist said.
Neighboring Mohave County in Arizona declared itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary in 2019. More recently, Weber County in Utah also declared itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary last month. This follows Unitah, Utah and Wayne counties doing the same, according to Fox 13 News.
During a legislative update given during the Washington County Republican organizing convention last month, state Sen. Evan Vickers said the Legislature was considering moving a measure forward that would make Utah a Second Amendment sanctuary state.
While the county’s elected officials back the resolution, Iverson said it is also incumbent on the residents to be steadfast in their support and defense of the Constitution as well. In particular, parents need to teach their children about how important the Constitution is, he said.
“It’s important that our young people understand that there are rights and freedoms tied to these responsibilities,” he said.
As to how the county will respond to any laws and policy its elected officials finds questionable, Almquist said in a text to St. George News: “We would follow any law from the state of congress provided it passes constitutional muster.”
In other business, the County Commission passed a resolution putting a six month moratorium on permits for new “tourists” homes in the county. While current permits may go forward, the pause is seen as a time the county can use to address its policy on vacation rentals.
Countywide, time-of-day outdoor watering restrictions were also passed by the commission, which prohibits outdoor watering in the unincorporated parts of the county between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
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