House Consideration of Massive Public Lands Bill Could Involve Gun Amendment

Not two weeks ago U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah criticized a massive public lands bill that would designate official wilderness and launch three new units of the National Park System because it included provisions he viewed as frivolous.

Now the Republican wants to amend that bill with a provision that would allow concealed weapons permit holders to go armed into the national parks and national wildlife refuges.

While the Bush administration in its waning days changed the rules to allow just that, a federal judge last week blocked the rule, saying Interior Department officials failed to consider the environmental impacts of the rule change.

Mr. Bishop, who criticized $34 million in the lands bill that would go to create a unit of the National Park System in New Jersey while overlooking existing needs in the park system, such as Dinosaur National Monument's need for a new visitor center, says the judge's ruling was wrong.

What remains to be seen is whether the House Rules Committee will allow the House to consider amendments to the lands bill, which has already passed the Senate. If the Rules Committee decides against opening the measure to amendments, all it would take for the legislation to pass the House is a simple majority vote.

Comments

You know.............in some ways he has a point

In terms of some frivolous projects, for sure. But what does a gun issue have to do with a lands bill? That's one of the problems with Congress, they often resort to sleight-of-hand to get pet or controversial issues through.

That said, I understand the Rules Committee decided not to allow amendments, and so now the lands bill is up for a simple up or down vote in the House. Passage sends it to the president's desk.

Now, if Congress would allow the president a line item veto....

This proposed amendment, along with several existing provisions for this bill, illustrates the perils of omnibus bills. While such bills may be touted as an "efficient" way to move a lot of items through the legislative process, they simply offer too much temptation for many of our elected officials to tack on their pet projects or causes. As a result, some items which deserve careful discussion often receive very little attention.

The politics of many such bills is based on having something in the bill to appeal to enough members to secure the votes needed for passage. Sadly, there aren't many members of congress who are willing to vote against their own pork, even if it means voting for some other item they would not support as an individual bill.

I've said before that the result of omnibus bills is often to throw good legislative process under the bus.

This is crap. DINO needs fixing. Now. Surely we can wait on an NJ park?

House passes bill to expand wilderness in 9 states

By MATTHEW DALY
From Associated Press
March 25, 2009 2:52 PM EDT
WASHINGTON - Congress on Wednesday set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as protected wilderness - from California's Sierra Nevada mountains to the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

The legislation is on its way to President Barack Obama for his likely signature.

The House approved the bill, 285-140, the final step in a long legislative road that began last year.

The vote came two weeks after the House rejected the bill amid a partisan dispute over gun rights. The measure was brought up again in the Senate and approved last week, setting up Wednesday's vote.

The bill - a collection of nearly 170 separate measures - would be one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in a quarter-century. It would confer the government's highest level of protection on land in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

Supporters called the bill landmark legislation that will strengthen the national park system, restore national forests, preserve wild and scenic rivers, protect battlefields and restore balance to the management of public lands.

Opponents, mostly Republicans, called the bill a "land grab" that would block energy development on vast swaths of federal land.

"After nearly a decade during which our parks were taken for granted and our range lands were scarred by a spider-web of roads and (drilling) well pads," the lands bill "represents a new dawn for America's heritage and American values," said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and other Republicans complained that the measure would lock up millions of acres of land that could be explored for energy and used for other development.

"Our nation can't afford to shut down the creation of jobs for jobless Americans, and we can't afford to become even more dependent on foreign sources of energy," Hastings said.

The bill "even locks up federal lands from renewable energy production, including wind and solar," he said.

Hastings and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to allow visitors to national parks to carry concealed, loaded weapons. A federal judge last week struck down a Bush administration rule allowing loaded guns in parks and wildlife refuges.

Because of a parliamentary rule adopted in the Senate, the House took up the bill under a rule that blocked amendments.

Land to be protected in the bill ranges from California's Sierra Nevada mountain range and Oregon's Mount Hood to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

Land in Idaho's Owyhee canyons, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan and Zion National Park in Utah also would win designation as wilderness, and more than 1,000 miles of rivers in nearly a dozen states would gain protections. The proposals would expand wilderness designation - which blocks nearly all development - into areas that now are not protected.

The bill also would let Alaska go forward with plans to build an airport access road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge as part of a land swap that would transfer more than 61,000 acres to the federal government, much of it designated as wilderness.


Rick Smith

I'm ashamed to admit that Rob Bishop represents me. Sorry about that. But at least with President Cheney out, our parks finally have a chance at survival.

That makes two of us, Old Ranger. I've been meaning to have a talk with him about national park issues, but figure he'd just want to mine them.

I would like to thank Rick Smith for his comment which gave more info bot this land bill. My personal preference would have liked the gun rights language.But that can be handled as a separate issue. We do not need to weigh down bills with pet agendas.

I would like more info on how the sequester of these lands impact any energy issues. Since preservation and mining often clash.