Outdoor Retailer should avoid ultimatums on lands policy

Today, some leaders from the outdoor retail industry are making demands and issuing ultimatums to Utah’s elected officials, threatening to pull the Outdoor Retailer trade shows from the state.

Their aggressive actions highlight how the discussion around public land management has been absolutely degraded. So, while questioning our state’s values and love for public lands, their ultimatums are actually restricting and undermining real collaboration and constructive dialogue on this critical issue. So, those who care about our public lands need to move beyond the bluster and bombast and get to principled compromise and viable land management solutions.

Clearly, tourism and outdoor recreation play a vital role in Utah’s economy today and will for generations to come. Utah’s unparalleled beauty and recreational opportunities draw visitors from around the world, driving small businesses, providing tax revenue, and making our state a great place to work, live and play.

To claim that the only appropriate use of our public lands is outdoor recreation is to ignore the needs of real Utahns – especially those who live in our rural communities. And despite the false claims often depicted on the internet and in the media, responsible land management is not a zero-sum game with only winners and losers.

The type of bullying rhetoric currently coming from some in the outdoor retail industry is creating the kind of fake fight and false choices we often see in Washington, D.C. That is not how we do it here in Utah.

We understand that stewardship of natural resources is everyone’s responsibility. We know public lands can and ought to be put to multiple – often complementary – uses, which expands the economic pie to everyone’s benefit. We must remember that ultimatums kill collaboration and compromise.

We call on Utah’s elected officials, the outdoor retail industry, and other key voices to engage in an inclusive, elevated dialogue that will lead to land management policy that will foster a healthy environment, abundant recreational opportunities, and a diverse thriving economy for all Utahns now and for many generations to come. That is the Utah way.

Bears Ears National Monument designation

From Sutherland Policy Analyst Matt Anderson:

   “We call on the President-elect and Congress to rescind this national monument designation and allow local voices to be heard and incorporated into how the Bears Ears region will be protected. Furthermore, we call on these elected officials to amend the Antiquities Act to require congressional approval for future monument designations. 

   Pleas for the president to stay his hand from Utah’s entire congressional delegation, Governor Gary Herbert, the State Legislature, local Native American groups and all of San Juan County’s commissioners and city councils fell on deaf ears. Instead, the President’s legacy and the demands of extreme environmental and corporate interests are now reflected in how more than 1 million acres of San Juan County will be managed.”

From Sutherland President Boyd Matheson:

   “The fact that the president is designating the Bears Ears National Monument at 6 p.m. Eastern on the Wednesday of Christmas vacation — and from 3,000 miles away in Hawaii no less — shows complete disrespect for the people of San Juan County. The citizens of this nation make monuments to honor true statesmen. President Obama declaring a monument unto himself with the stroke of a pen is not only unstatesman-like, it is undemocratic. The people of America should expect more and the people of San Juan County deserve better.

Orlando, Florida, USA - October 28, 2016: President Barack Obama makes the case for Hillary Clinton to young voters at the University of Central Florida.

Sutherland Institute condemns imminent Bears Ears National Monument designation

According to multiple sources, President Barack Obama will designate 1.4 to 1.9 million acres in San Juan County as the Bears Ears National Monument next week.

Sutherland Institute condemns this blatant abuse of executive power and calls on Congress and President-elect Donald Trump to commit to rescind this national monument designation and allow local voices to be heard. 

Furthermore, we call on these elected officials to amend the Antiquities Act to require congressional approval for future monument designations. 

 Sutherland Institute, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and the entire Utah congressional delegation, along with San Juan County Navajos, recently held a press conference in Washington, D.C. San Juan County Navajo Susie Philemon said, “Native Americans have given up enough of their ancestral lands for national monuments. President Obama, we the local native residents of San Juan County, Utah, have managed to protect this enchanted place and will continue to do so. Please do not take this land from us. Please don’t break more promises … not again.

Sutherland Institute continues to encourage San Juan County residents to make their voices heard by sharing their stories via video and written posts on social media.

In Washington, Sutherland Institute President Boyd Matheson said, “Often overpowered by well-funded, out-of-state environmentalists and big corporate interests are the voices of the people who actually live in San Juan County.” He continued, “A wealthy man’s monument should never come at the expense of a working man’s dream.”

Matt Anderson, policy analyst at Sutherland Institute, said, “There are many ways to be careful stewards of the land. Our public lands can and ought to be used for multiple and often complementary uses. Rather than a monumental mess by executive order, real compromise – which includes state and local voices – is the way to ensure responsible land management. Utahns across the political spectrum and citizens across the country should support this approach.”

Anderson concluded, “Instead of principled and sensible management of their home, the people of San Juan County will be subjected to increased heavy-handed and ineffective federal regulations – putting archaeological sites at risk as never before, devastating the local economy, restricting traditional Native American practices, and jeopardizing the future of San Juan County. Our friends in San Juan County deserve better.”  


Utah shines in bipartisan dialogue on poverty spearheaded by Reps. Love and Cleaver


For Immediate Release: June 27, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY—Utah’s effective anti-poverty efforts took center stage Monday during a bipartisan gathering of local and national elected officials and advocates. Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, invited her colleague Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, to come to Utah for this critical dialogue and asked Sutherland Institute president Boyd Matheson to facilitate the discussion at the South City Campus of Salt Lake Community College.

“Utah, once again, is showing the nation how to tackle tough issues like poverty,” Matheson said. “The state Legislature’s work on intergenerational poverty, combined with the private-sector and nonprofit work of groups like The Other Side Academy, are just two examples of the great team of advocates working to end poverty and create upward mobility in the state. These and many other principles and policies can and should be exported nationwide.”

During this morning’s roundtable, Reps. Love and Cleaver stated their commitment to showing that when it comes to poverty, they prioritize actual solutions over party politics. Their message to those in attendance was simple: This is not a left or right issue; this is an American issue.

Rep. Cleaver shared his belief that a key component of reducing poverty will be to end the unnecessary duplication of government services and government agency turf battles, a concept similar to one outlined in a Sutherland post here.

The meeting was a first step in discovering and sharing solutions that end both short-term and intergenerational poverty through a combination of public and private sector efforts.

Many Utahns deeply involved in helping our neighbors most in need spoke with the two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Bill Tibbetts (Crossroads Urban Center), Dave Durocher (The Other Side Academy), Stuart Reid (former state senator), and Pamela Atkinson (community advocate), among the three dozen in attendance.

In photo: Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and Sutherland president Boyd Matheson listen to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, on June 27, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (Photo credit: Dave Buer)

Sutherland Institute is a Utah-based thought leader and advocate for empowering principles, elevated dialogue and enlightened public policy.


Contact: David Buer

Sutherland Institute

Director of Communications

801-355-1272 (w)




Sutherland Institute names Boyd Matheson as new president

boyd-mathesonSALT LAKE CITY—Sutherland Institute’s Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the hiring of Boyd Matheson as president of the Institute.

Matheson, former chief of staff for Utah Sen. Mike Lee, will be formally introduced as president Wednesday, March 30, in downtown Salt Lake City and is slated to take the helm April 4, allowing board chairman Stan Swim to conclude his service as interim president.

“It is with deep humility and gratitude that I accept this position with Sutherland Institute,” Matheson said. “Sutherland is an organization with a rich history and a reputation for its thoughtful approach to ‘making sound ideas broadly popular among governmental, opinion, and business leaders, and the citizens generally,’ as envisioned by the words of Sutherland Institute’s founder, Gaylord Swim. His vision guides me:

‘This process requires strong advocates, certainly, but it also takes a counter-balancing sense of humility, civility, and dialogue. Utahns have the capacity, the character, and thus the potential to lead out among the states. The Sutherland Dream is that we will adopt and implement public policies that will be the envy of, and set a standard for, the nation.’”

Matheson added, “I wish to convey to the Board my deep appreciation for their faith in me – which faith I hope is rapidly replaced by the kind of confidence that comes from extraordinary results. I look forward to working with the board, supporters, staff and the community in this next important season for Sutherland Institute.”

“As my chief of staff, Boyd was an astute adviser and a dear friend,” said Sen. Lee. “He was an essential bridge builder whose thoughtful judgment I trusted implicitly. Boyd is, in the words of essayist William George Jordan, one of the ‘reformers of the world’ – ‘its men of mighty purpose. They are men with the courage of individual conviction.’ I am confident he will assist Sutherland Institute in their critical efforts to reform how government works and civil society thrives.”

Matheson emerged as the Sutherland board’s choice after a nationwide search involving dozens of potential candidates and numerous conversations. “Everyone who knows Boyd can attest to his leadership, his character and his team-building capacity,” Swim said. “We are confident his deep grasp of America’s foundational principles and the vision he laid out for the Institute will help Sutherland to have an even greater impact at the state and national levels.”

In addition to his service as Sen. Lee’s chief of staff, Matheson most recently built a successful political consulting firm advising national and state elected officials and candidates. From 2005 to 2012, he served as president of Trillium Strategies, a consulting firm focused on branding, business transformation and operational excellence.

Sutherland Institute is a nonpartisan, state-based public policy organization located in Salt Lake City. Its mission: protecting freedom, constructively influencing Utah’s decision-makers, and promoting responsible citizenship. Sutherland Institute is recognized as the leading conservative think tank in the state of Utah.

Governor Gary Herbert and Pamela Atkinson launch the 2016 Homelessness Campaign

The Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund receives non-tax-deductible donations from individuals and businesses on their state tax form. All donations to the fund go directly to service organizations statewide. The annual tax campaign highlights the opportunity Utahns have to donate directly to the trust fund, which enables vital assistance and services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.


Supreme Court chooses rule of power over rule of law

The U.S. Supreme Court had an opportunity today to reinforce that America is a nation governed by laws, not by powerful men and women. Sadly, it chose to abdicate that principle in favor of legal sophistry.

In the court’s other major ruling on the ACA, NFIB v. Sebelius, the court stated clearly it does not have the expertise to make judgments regarding public policy – but the King v. Burwell ruling relies wholly on judgments regarding public policy to justify its conclusion that the plain language of Obamacare cannot mean what plaintiffs argued it meant.

Such clear contradictions in reasoning undermine the credibility of the court for the average, commonsense people it relies upon for legitimacy.

Not surprisingly, supporters of Medicaid expansion are spinning the court’s ruling into justification for expanding Medicaid under the rules of Obamacare. This, of course, is nonsense. The court’s ruling simply maintained the status quo, and therefore all of the problems of Medicaid expansion that existed prior to the ruling – helping the uninsured on the backs of Utah’s most vulnerable, relying on unsustainable funding from a bankrupt federal government – still exist today. Medicaid expansion under Obamacare continues to be bad policy for the state of Utah and its residents, and there are better ways to help Utah’s uninsured.

Obamacare remains a poorly written law in drastic need of reform. It has failed to stop dramatic increases in health insurance premiums; it has failed to lower out-of-pocket health care costs for most enrollees; it has failed by putting the interests of Big Business above those of individuals and families; it is an unsustainable policy solution; and it is an unworkable policy for states across the country. Moving forward, we hope that current and future presidential administrations and elected officials from Utah will put real solutions for real people above ideological agendas and political gain in the domain of health care policy. Americans and Utahns deserve no less.

salt lake at night

Open letter to ‘Group of Six’

SALT LAKE CITY—In an open letter to the state leaders tasked with resolving Utah’s Medicaid expansion problem, several Utah organizations outlined significant risks to Utah taxpayers and the state’s most vulnerable residents under existing Medicaid expansion proposals.

Sutherland Institute, Libertas Institute, the Utah Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, and the Utah Eagle Forum sent the letter today to Governor Gary Herbert, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, House Speaker Greg Hughes, Senator Brian Shiozawa and Representative James Dunnigan.

“Everyone in Utah recognizes the need to care for our vulnerable neighbors,” said Derek Monson, Sutherland’s director of public policy. “But we have to do so humanely, effectively and sustainably so that we don’t end up harming those who need help the most.”

The letter asks the “Group of Six” not to prioritize able-bodied, childless, working-age adults ahead of impoverished families with children, the elderly, and the disabled, as some Medicaid expansion proposals would do. It also asks the state leaders to account for the costs to Utah taxpayers both in the short and the long term to protect other essential services such as education, and so that critical assistance will be available to Utahns when they need it most.

The “Group of Six” is encouraged to find common-sense Utah solutions instead of accepting mandates issued from the federal government that don’t meet Utah’s unique needs.

Sutherland Institute is a nonpartisan, state-based public policy organization located in Salt Lake City. Its mission: protecting freedom, constructively influencing Utah’s decision-makers, and promoting responsible citizenship. Sutherland Institute is recognized as the leading conservative think tank in the state of Utah.


Open letter to the ‘Group of Six’

June 8, 2015

Governor Gary Herbert

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox

President Wayne Niederhauser

Speaker Greg Hughes

Senator Brian Shiozawa

Representative James Dunnigan


Group of Six,

We are writing to you on behalf of our members and supporters across Utah, in regard to your efforts to address the question of Medicaid expansion, a key part of President Obama’s healthcare-reform law.

While well-intentioned, Medicaid expansion will not protect Utahns from harmful consequences.

Utah is a remarkably charitable and caring state. Protecting our friends and neighbors who are the most in need when it comes to healthcare is a high priority. Medicaid expansion would add thousands of able-bodied, childless, working-age adults into a pool meant for impoverished families with children, the elderly, the disabled, and other vulnerable groups.

Current Medicaid enrollees already struggle with access to care because of Medicaid’s low doctor reimbursement rates. In a state that already has a shortage of primary care providers, adding thousands of new enrollees but no new doctors would only exacerbate this problem. Spending limited resources on able-bodied adults would not protect the vulnerable people waiting in line; it would further imperil them.

Medicaid expansion would not protect hard-working Utah taxpayers. According to multiple state projections, Medicaid expansion could cost Utahns hundreds of millions of dollars. Even more concerning, other states have demonstrated that cost projections are often woefully inaccurate. For example, expansion in Arizona cost more than four times the state’s projections. Illinois recently revised their projections of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion costs to more than three times initial estimates.

These added costs mean that desperately needed funding for education would not be protected, creating pressure on lawmakers to raise taxes, cut education funding, or both. Utah’s business-friendly reputation and attractive tax climate would be put at risk by expanding Medicaid.

Supporters of Medicaid expansion cite the promise of federal dollars that eventually taper to a 90 percent federal match rate to pay for the new expansion population in perpetuity. As we all know, federal dollars come with strings attached and are being drawn from an already dry well. Utahns are smart and recognize that federal dollars come from their pockets just as readily as state funds do. Changing the tax collector from the Utah State Tax commission to the IRS would not make a difference – Utahns would still pay. Additionally, Medicaid is a primary driver of the nation’s $18 trillion debt, and members of both political parties have acknowledged that this unrealistically generous match rate will not last. When the match rate is cut, Utah taxpayers will be left on the hook for even greater costs.

Making our state more dependent on unreliable federal dollars would be irresponsible. The Congressional Research Service recently confirmed that not expanding Medicaid does not mean Utah tax dollars go elsewhere – it simply means the money is not spent (or rather, borrowed) at all, protecting the next generation from even more debt.

Utahns deserve to know what has happened under the Arkansas expansion plan – the plan that formed the basis for the original Healthy Utah proposal. The “private option” in Arkansas ran over-budget every single month of 2014. The state projected that only 215,000 people would ever enroll in the program, but today there are already over 250,000 enrollees, and that number is sure to continue to increase. Arkansans made very clear their view of the private option in November 2014 by electing dozens of new legislators who ran on a platform opposing Medicaid expansion.

Suggestions of work requirements, cost-sharing, and expanding the private market would certainly be welcome reforms, but they should not have to come at the price of expanding the eligibility for a taxpayer-funded program that provides poor health outcomes. In other words, if the cost of Medicaid reforms is a full-scale embrace of expanded Obamacare, then that cost is simply too high. Moreover, such reforms are likely to be severely limited by the White House in Utah’s application for a flexibility waiver leaving the state with a Washington solution instead of a Utah solution.

Instead of embracing Obamacare by expanding Medicaid, we urge you to find a way out from under Washington, D.C.’s thumb. We applaud your willingness to reconsider the prospect of Medicaid expansion and instead work to find common-sense Utah solutions. The healthcare needs of Utah are not the same as those of Georgia or Rhode Island. Unfortunately, the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge this and continues to insist on their Washington, D.C., solution with its one-size-fits all approach.

We appreciate your efforts to protect all Utahns from the harmful consequences Medicaid expansion would bring to our state.



Sutherland Institute

Libertas Institute

Utah Chapter, Americans for Prosperity

Utah Eagle Forum

Sutherland Institute’s Statement on 6th Circuit Court Marriage Decision

In a strong, well-reasoned opinion, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has vindicated the rights of the people of those states to recognize marriage as the union of a husband and wife. It is a great victory for the principle that the U.S. Constitution allows the people of the states to recognize the obvious—that children are entitled to a married mother and father. The majority in today’s decision recognizes that nothing in the meaning of the Constitution requires a redefinition of marriage. It recognizes that it is rational for states to recognize the differences in men and women as it relates to children’s needs, that voters retaining marriage laws were not acting out of animus, and that the right to marry recognized by previous cases does not create a right to change the meaning of marriage.

Surely appeals will follow this decision and the final outcome is still in the future, but it is heartening to have an example of federal judges who recognize the scope of their powers and are willing to allow the people of their states to exercise self-determination by defending the rightful inheritance of children—a sign of a society that takes seriously all children’s entitlement to a mother and father.

Paul Mero steps down as Sutherland Institute president

For Immediate Release: Aug. 26, 2014

Paul Mero steps down as Sutherland Institute president

SALT LAKE CITY— Sutherland Institute and Paul Mero are parting ways. After 14 years at the helm, Mero has been asked to step down as president by the Institute’s board. The decision is effective immediately, and the search for a new president will begin soon. Stanford Swim, chairman of the board, will serve as acting CEO until a new president is selected.

“Paul has served faithfully and effectively as he has led Sutherland Institute from its infancy to becoming the most influential conservative voice in Utah,” Swim said. “While the board feels this change is necessary as we move into the future, we are grateful for his dedicated service. We will continue to be guided by our seven governing principles that allow faith, family and freedom to flourish in Utah.”

Sutherland’s founder, Gaylord Swim, hired Mero in 2000, and Mero oversaw the growth of the Institute’s broad influence throughout the state. Previously, he worked for 10 years in Congress and was the founding executive vice president at The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. Mero has been instrumental in nurturing the World Congress of Families coalition and secured Salt Lake City to host its ninth gathering next year. He will continue to serve on the executive committee for World Congress of Families IX.

“Disagreements often arise between a CEO and board, and this is what happened here,” Mero said. “While disappointing, it became necessary. I have enjoyed every success and learned from every failure. Utah is a better place to live, work and raise a family because of Sutherland Institute.”

Heading into the 2015 legislative session, Sutherland is working with elected officials and policy colleagues on issues that have a significant impact on Utahns. These include:

  • Alcohol policy
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Dependence on federal funds
  • Environmental regulations
  • Marriage and family policy
  • Medicaid reform
  • Religious freedom
  • Public lands
  • State budget policy
  • Utah economic policy

Sutherland Institute is a nonpartisan, independent public policy organization located in Salt Lake City. As a state-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, its mission is to protect the cause of freedom, constructively influence Utah’s decision-makers, and promote responsible citizenship. Sutherland Institute is recognized as the leading conservative think tank in the state of Utah.