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HB 162: Federal Lands Council – 2019

Summary: This proposal would establish a permanent council that could conflict with other state agencies and departments.

ICL's position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Dead

Issue Areas: Public Lands

Official Legislative Site

Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) introduced a measure in House State Affairs Committee that would establish a permanent council to oversee issues related to management of national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands in Idaho.

There are already lots of ways the state engages with with federal land managers in Idaho, through land use planning and input, through the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners, Idaho Fish and Game Commission, Idaho Parks and Recreation Commission, Idaho Roadless Commission, and others. Ultimately though, we send two Representatives and two Senators to Washington, DC, because the appropriate place for oversight is in the U.S. Congress. After all, the property clause of the U.S. Constitution specifically provides power to Congress to “have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”

The real push behind the bill is to provide for “alternative legal counsel” and to utilize state staff and resources to negotiate and review contracts and agreements. Since legislators don’t always agree with the opinions of the Idaho Attorney General or the Idaho Governor, this council will have legal authority to engage in negotiations between state, local and other agencies [that the council] deems warranted.”

The bill estimates that the council would only spend $10,000-$15,000 on outside counsel, despite the fact that during the two-year Federal Lands Interim Committee, the legislature blew through far more than that in legal fees at a rate of nearly $500 per hour.

The fact is, Idahoans are already working together to find collaborative solutions to the issues facing our public lands, and another oversight council funding outside lawyers is the last thing we need.

The bill was returned to committee on March 27, killing the bill for the year.