Las Vegas Sun

October 17, 2017

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Public land bills introduced, uniting Nevada lawmakers


Karoun Demirjian

Nevada’s full congressional delegation met in the Mike Mansfield Room of the U.S. Capitol to discuss Nevada policy for the first time in several years, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013.

After agreeing to hit the ground running on public lands issues Wednesday, the Nevada delegation kicked things off Thursday with a coordinated drop of their top-priority bills.

Rep. Steven Horsford introduced the new House version of a bill to enable Yerington and Nevada Copper to develop 12,500 acres near a mining site in Lyon County, in exchange for creating 48,000 acres of new wilderness in another part of the county.

The delegation identified the bill, which Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller reintroduced in the Senate in late January, as their No. 1 public lands bill for Nevada after an all-delegation meeting in the Capitol Wednesday.

“This jobs bill is the kind of common-sense bipartisan legislation that will get Nevadans back to work immediately,” Horsford said in a statement with the release of the bill, promising to work with Amodei — who sponsored a similar Yerington bill last Congress — to get it through the House. The Yerington/Nevada Copper site was in Amodei’s 2nd Congressional District last year; after redistricting, it sits in Horsford’s new 4th Congressional District.

Reid and Heller, and Rep. Joe Heck, also introduced new versions of the Three Kids Mine reclamation bill, which will transfer federal land to help Henderson clean up an abandoned mine site that was long ago identified as toxic.

“Once remediated, this land will be developed, creating further opportunities for economic development and job creation,” Heck said in a statement with the release of the House bill.

The rest of the delegation — Horsford and Reps. Mark Amodei and Dina Titus — have already signed on as original co-sponsors to the House version of the legislation.

A third bill that the Nevada delegation identified as a priority, the Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act that designates 26,000 acres of new wilderness in exchange for the release of 1,500 currently designated wilderness land and the authority to exchange surrounding federal lands, was introduced in the House by Amodei at the end of January.

Reid and Heller have not yet reintroduced companion legislation in the Senate, but the measure has the full verbal support of the delegation, and the full documented support of the delegation last Congress.

The three bills now active in the 113th Congress have each been introduced in congressional terms past, only to expire at the end of those terms without the full approval of Congress. The delegation has not yet come to an agreement about how to proceed with other public lands bills that met a similar fate at the end of last year.

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