SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Legislature will recognize "Space Force" and compete for jobs and projects with the new branch of the military.
The state's Veterans and Military Affairs Commission voted unanimously to support a bill sponsored by Rep.-elect Jefferson Burton, R-Salem, that adds the Space Force alongside Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines.
"Utah is competing for some of the spots on the Space Force as is any state out there," Rep.-elect Burton said.
Lawmakers did have some questions about Space Force, created by President Trump in 2018. Its mission is to defend the United States' interests in outer space (a job previously done by the U.S. Air Force).
"Does every state have to put that in code, in statute, the Space Force or whatever?" asked Senate Minority Leader Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City.
"It would be prudent if they did," replied Rep.-elect Burton. "What’s happening as resources are allocated, currently every state is trying to get a piece of the Space Force. It is truly a part of the armed forces and it’s been named as such."
Space Force — and recognizing it in Utah — could bring lucrative aerospace contracts to a state that already has a strong industry.
"We do have the city of ‘Enterprise,’" joked Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, the commission chair. "I think it would be appropriate."
The bill will now be considered in the 2021 legislative session, where it is expected to easily pass.