House budget resolution would eviscerate lands act that has brought billions to Nevada


The House budget plan up for a vote this week would effectively repeal a critical piece of legislation passed 15 years ago that has brought billions to Nevada conservation and infrastructure projects.

The budget would put most of those funds instead toward deficit reduction, essentially erasing the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, one of the prize feathers in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's cap and a true delegation accomplishment. The legislation has been used for a variety of purposes, including for critical projects and to preserve Lake Tahoe.

One insider estimated that SNPLMA has generated more than $3 billion for Nevada conservation and local government infrastructure projects from the sale of BLM land in the Las Vegas Valley since 1998.  The House budget  would change the equation from all proceeds going to Nevada projects, the state schools fund and the water authority to deficit-reduction instead.

Here's what the House budget resolution says:

Revise and Reauthorize the Bureau of Land Management’s Land Sales Process. Instead of requiring that all proceeds from land sales be used to acquire other parcels of land and to cover sales expenses, this option would direct that 70 percent of the proceeds, net of expenses, go to the Treasury for the purposes of deficit reduction by reauthorizing and revising the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act and other land-management statutes.  It would limit the Department of the Interior’s share of the receipts to $60 million per year (plus an additional amount to cover BLM’s administrative costs) for land-acquisition and restoration projects on BLM lands.  The option would also reduce the amount of federal spending not subject to regular oversight through the congressional appropriation process.  The change would reduce the federal budget deficit and ensure that U.S. taxpayers benefit directly from land sales.

I am seeking comment from the delegation, which generally seems unaware of this pilfering attempt,  and I will post as they react.

Greg Lemon, Rep. Joe Heck's spokesman, told me: "Heck is still reviewing the various budget proposals that will be voted on this week. This is something that he would obviously be very concerned about."

UPDATE: More than one insider pointed out the SNPLMA money is drying up because of less development, although more land could become available in the next five years (there are still 30,000 acres available). The Republicans obviously downplayed the language, which is nonbinding, while the Democrats just as obviously pounced because the vagueness of the language means it could be interpreted many different ways:

Brian Baluta, for Rep. Mark Amodei:

1) SNPLMA is a Nevada-specific lands bill separate and distinct from the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) and other land-management statutes. According to the House Budget Committee, the budget resolution does not touch SNPLMA. As it stands,FLTFA itself needs to be reauthorized, so that is in effect a dead statute. The reauthorization ofFLTFA would provide an opportunity for some deficit reduction. The budget committee’s math on this “option” does not includeSNPLMA.


2) This is a non-binding budget resolution, which can’t repeal a law on the books, such asSNPLMA, even if that was the intent of the budget resolution, which it is not.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "This is just another reason why the Ryan Republican budget would be disastrous for Nevada. The SNPLMA fund has invested billions of dollars in the state, creating jobs through investments in infrastructure, conservation, park projects, and restoring Lake Tahoe."

Rep. Dina Titus:  "If ending the Medicare guarantee, eliminating two million jobs, gutting investment in clean energy, cutting funding for education, and stalling our economic recovery weren't bad enough, the Republican Budget specifically attacks investments in Southern Nevada's infrastructure and economic development. The Republican Budget would essentially end a significant funding stream for water infrastructure investments in our region, as well as hundreds of projects to increase tourism, recreation, and access to Nevada's open spaces and cultural sites, including Lake Tahoe."

Chandler Smith for Sen. Dean Heller: "While the language in the House bill is ambiguous, Senator Heller would oppose efforts to change the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act in a way that would redirect funds out of Nevada."

Rep. Steven Horsford: "As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, I have been tracking this and I am very concerned that the language in Congressman Ryan’s budget does target SNPLMA. It is just another example of how the Republican budget would have negative impacts on our state. Last week it was Congressman Ryan's ill-conceived opposition to the high-speed rail project that would kill Nevada jobs, now it's taking money from public lands legislation when Nevada already doesn't receive its fair share of federal support. Congressman Ryan's ideas are wrong for Nevada and for our country."