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Chaffetz talks gambling, public lands, taxes with Utah lawmakers


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SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Jason Chaffetz has introduced legislation to ban online gambling such as Internet poker and other games of chance involving money.

The Utah Republican said he's trying to undo a 2011 Justice Department legal opinion that made online gaming legal in the United States, including Utah and Hawaii, the only states that prohibit gambling of any kind.

"I need your help and participation in paying attention to this because online gaming is coming to your 8-year-old's app sooner rather than later. It's on its way," Chaffetz told Utah lawmakers Friday.

In remarks to the both the House and Senate, the congressman touched on several issues, including a public lands initiative and getting rid of the federal gas tax.

Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he's working with Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, to take away some of the tools the federal government uses on public lands.

President Barack Obama could create a national monument in Utah at any time, Chaffetz said.

"When and if the president designates a monument, you can't call me," he said. "I'll take your call, but there's nothing I can do about it."

Like management of public lands, Chaffetz said gas tax should be left to the states. He said he wants to get the federal government out of the gas tax business.

"We're no longer trying to build some transcontinental highway that goes from the Atlantic to the Pacific," he said. "Why should we go to the pump, pay a federal gas tax, and then beg, hope and plead that we're going to get a portion of that back to the state of Utah?"

Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said he understood the federal gas tax would automatically go away this summer if Congress does nothing to stop it. Chaffetz said he would have to check on that.

"I'd say do nothing," Jenkins replied. "You guys are really good about that back there."

Chaffetz drew loud applause in the House with his response to a question from Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, about the nation's growing wage disparity and Obama wanting to increase federal inheritance tax.

The congressman said he stood by his comments after Obama's State of the Union speech that the inheritance tax is immoral. He said the federal government's role is not to redistribute wealth.

"We should be encouraging people to create as much prosperity as they can for them and their families and for future generations," Chaffetz said. "How dare they think they should come in and take any percentage of anything because somebody died."

Contributing: Katie McKellar Email: romboy@deseretnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy

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Dennis Romboy

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