[post_thumbnail]Rep. Lawerence Denney presents HCR 21 and HCR 22 in the Senate State Affairs Committee.
A Senate committee has approved legislative proposals that would seek to enable Idaho to take control of more than 60 percent of land within the state, land that is currently under federal government control.
“This is a discussion that we need to start,” said Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, in presenting House Concurrent Resolution 21 (HCR 21) and House Concurrent Resolution 22 (HCR 22) to the Senate State Affairs Committee. “Both of these concurrent resolutions need to start that discussion,” Denny stated.
HCR 21 calls for a study to be conducted on how Idaho would best approach the federal government with a demand for the land. HCR 22 enables the state to issue a “demand for title” to the federal government.
The legislation, should it become law, would enable a process similar to that begun in Utah in 2012 when Gov. Gary
Herbert signed a bill demanding that the federal government relinquish control of public lands in that state by 2014, setting the table for a potential legal battle. At issue in Utah, currently, is the question of who will control approximately 28 million acres of land in that state. Supporters of the effort in Utah argue that the state can manage the land better than federal agencies.
“This is contrary to the Idaho and U.S. constitutions,” said Jonathan Oppenheimer, senior conservation associate with Idaho Conservation League, in testimony to the committee. “Public lands would be at risk to the highest bidders, which is steadfastly opposed by the majority of Idahoans,” he added.
HCR 21 passed in the Idaho House on March 21 by a margin of 64 to 4; HCR 22 passed in the House on the same day, but with the slightly narrower margin of 55 to 13.
The Senate committee approved both HCR 21 and HCR 22, with the Democrats on the committee, Sens. Michelle Stennett, Ketchum, and Elliot Werk, Boise, opposing both measures.
The resolutions will now be considered by the full Senate.