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Senate debate: ‘Put people back to work,’ ‘Only the lawyers are making money’

The Senate is debating HCR 22, the resolution demanding that the federal government transfer title to all federal lands in Idaho to the state. Among the comments:

Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, said, “Growing up in North Idaho in a small timber community, you either dry-land farmed or you worked in a mill or you worked in the woods. That’s what we did.” He said his father worked in the Potlatch mill for more than 17 years, and he worked there himself – before deciding to join the Navy after seeing lots of fellow workers with missing fingers and the like. Hagedorn said that business has fallen off now that less timber is being cut from federal lands. With a transfer of those lands to the state, he said, “We could actually create a ton of jobs … a heck of an economic revitalization for those that are struggling now and no longer have the mills.” He said he believed the measure would allow families in which generations grew up logging “to get back and do that again.” He said, “There’s some good reasons why we should do this. To put people back to work is a great reason for me.”

Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, the measure’s Senate sponsor, said, “There’s certain provisions of this bill that I don’t agree with at all. But the overall intent of the bill, to allow Idahoans to manage Idahoans’ lands, sets very well with me.”

Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier, noted that he voted in favor of HCR 21, the measure for a study of a federal lands transfer, but said he can’t support HCR 22. “Senators, I’m cautious by nature and I know that,” he said. “I think it’s entirely appropriate for us to study the issue of title to federal lands being given to the state, but I’m nervous about some of the words in this resolution.”

Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, quoted from a decades-old Idaho attorney general’s opinion that found “legal impediments remain in adopting this approach – most notably it’s against our Idaho Constitution.” Stennett said collaborative management efforts on public lands around Idaho have “achieved on-the-ground success,” both creating jobs and protecting lands. On the other hand, she said, “Legal debate … has never amounted to a single tree being cut or a single job being created, and probably only the lawyers are making money at that point.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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