Idaho lawmakers oppose new federal lands without vote

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

The Idaho House and Senate passed a House Joint Memorial to tell Congress they “oppose any new federal national monument designations or further designations of wilderness in the State of Idaho without the approval of the United States Congress and the Idaho Legislature.”

House Joint Memorials act as petitions — they don’t establish policy, but instead serve as a message to federal legislators voicing a request from the state legislators.

“It’s just a group of people saying ‘we want this’ or ‘we don’t want this,’” said Rep. Mat Erpelding (D-Boise). “It’s basically a love letter, or a letter of disdain, which that’s what this one was.”

HJM 14 is a definitive stance that Idaho wants a voice when it comes to national monument and wilderness designations, said Rep. Brent Crane (R-Nampa).

Erpelding and Crane are both a part of the Ways and Means committee, which drafted HJM 14. Erpelding voted against, while Crane voted for the memorial.

“(Legislators) want to make sure there’s no more federal land grabs without a vote,” Crane said. He said this is largely a response to the land designations made during Barack Obama’s presidency.

Erpelding said he sees the economic value national monuments can have as tourist destinations, and that it’s unlikely a president would make executive designations without widespread support.

HJM 14 refers specifically to the federal coordination clause, which suggests federal agencies work with local groups (in this case, the Idaho House and Senate) to make land designation decisions.

It also addresses the Idaho Roadless Rule, written in 2006, which prescribes protective management even to federal land in the state. HJM 14 states that the use of the Antiquities Act — which allows the president to designate national monuments with the stroke of a pen — could usurp agreements made in the Roadless Rule.

Read HJM 14 in its entirety at legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/2018/legislation/hjm014.

HJM 14 sponsors Rep. Van Burtenshaw (R-Terreton) and Sen. Jeff Siddoway (R-Terreton) did not respond to requests for comment before press time.

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