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Posted 20 Jun 2001   For week ended June 15, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 16Jun01

By Kent Larsen

Utah's Cannon Takes on Census Bureau over Missionary Count

WASHINGTON, DC -- Utah Representative Chris Cannon yesterday opened a new front in Utah's war with the US Census Bureau over an additional seat in the US House of Representatives. Cannon introduced legislation in Congress that would freeze funding for a key Census Bureau project, effectively holding the project hostage until the Bureau makes progress on a plan for counting American citizens living overseas.

The target of Cannon's legislation is the $135 million a year American Community Survey, which is meant to replace the long form of the decennial census. The survey is a pet project of the Bureau, which believes that the data gained will be much better than the long form because the survey will be taken annually instead of every ten years.

Cannon's effort comes after he questioned Census Bureau officials at a House Census subcommittee hearing and didn't like the answers he got. In the hearing, Cannon asked acting Census Bureau director William G. Barron Jr. how plans are coming to count Americans overseas in 2010, and was told a final plan was "probably a pretty good length of time away. The issues are daunting."

After the hearing, Cannon told the Deseret News he was not satisfied with the answer and thought that the Bureau should give counting Americans abroad higher priority than the American Community Survey. "That information is nice. But the core mission of the census according to the Constitution is for apportionment" of House seats. "They need to focus on that core mission before all that other stuff." Cannon made a similar statement to the Salt Lake Tribune, "The Census Bureau has a single mission mandated by the Constitution: to count our nation's population every 10 years so that each state is fairly represented in Congress," Cannon said. "It's time to focus the Census Bureau on the critical task, even if it means cutting back on less important projects."

Cannon spokesman Jeff Hartley added that the main beneficiaries of the American Community Survey are private companies, "The Constitution doesn't say that you should produce this marketable, commercial information for anybody," Hartley said. "It's probably something that marketers could do for themselves rather than having the federal government do it." But some demographers disagree with Hartley, including Neil Ashdown, manager of demographic and economic analysis for the state of Utah. "We've never had access to this [every year] before, so it certainly will help in our planning," said Ashdown.

The state of Utah has filed two lawsuits seeking to get the Census changed to either include LDS missionaries or exclude all overseas personnel. A panel of judges turned down the state in April, and the state filed an appeal to the US Supreme Court. On Monday, Utah Deputy Attorney General Ray Hintze filed an additional lawsuit challenging the Census' use of sampling for those that don't respond to the survey.


Cannon has a new tack on Census
Deseret News 14Jun01 T2
By Lee Davidson: Deseret News Washington correspondent

Cannon Tries to Stop Annual Census Survey
Salt Lake Tribune 15Jun01 T2
By Brandon Loomis: Salt Lake Tribune

See also:

Utah Appeals, and Files New Census Lawsuit

Census Lawsuit Loses on Appeal

Census Judge Reverses Himself, Case to be Heard by Three Judge Panel

Judge's Ruling Will Delay Resolution of Census Lawsuit

North Carolina Claims Census Lawsuit without Merit

Utah Files Lawsuit Over LDS Missionary Census Exclusion

Census Official That Cost Utah House Seat Is LDS


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