The House State Affairs Committee has voted along party lines to approve HCR 22, a resolution demanding that the federal government “imminently transfer title to all of the public lands within Idaho’s borders directly to the state of Idaho.” The resolution says the state would cede back national parks, designated wilderness areas, national monuments, Department of Defense lands and Department of Energy reservations. The committee’s three Democrats opposed the move; all Republicans on the panel supported it.
Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, the bill’s sponsor, said Idaho could make millions for its schools by cutting much more timber from the federal lands than current federal managers allow; he said that would offset costs for firefighting, law enforcement, management and more. “When the question is asked how can we afford to take over the management, I think the answer is we can’t afford not to,” he said.
The committee also voted along party lines to approve HCR 21, setting up an interim legislative study committee to “undertake and complete a study of the process for the State of Idaho to acquire title to and control of public lands controlled by the federal government.” Again, the panel’s three Democrats voted no; all its GOP members voted yes. Both measures now move to the full House.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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