Here’s another legislative homework assignment for the summer — one that has a stake for education and school funding.
On Thursday afternoon, the House OK’d forming a legislative “interim committee” to study the transfer of federal lands to state management.
“Accurate information is needed before the Idaho Legislature can properly address the issue of the management and control of public lands now controlled by the federal government in the State of Idaho should title to those public lands be transferred to the State of Idaho,” reads House Concurrent Resolution 21, which passed the House on a 64-4 vote. (Voting no were Democrats Grant Burgoyne, Mat Erpelding and Hy Kloc of Boise, and Shirley Ringo of Moscow.)
Before that, though, the House also passed House Concurrent Resolution 22, which suggests lawmakers have their minds made up. This resolution, approved on a party-line 55-13 vote, demands that the federal government give up title to Idaho public lands. The resolution decries Uncle Sam’s “oppressive and overreaching federal management agenda.” On page 5 of the eight-page resolution, the focus turns to bottom-line matters: the public schools endowment.
“Federal land management actions, even when applied exclusively to federal lands, directly impact the ability of the State of Idaho to manage its school trust lands in accordance with the mandate of the Idaho Admissions Act and to meet its obligation to the beneficiaries of the trust. … Idaho has been substantially damaged in its ability to provide funding for education and the common good of the state.”
So, in HCR 21 the House wants “accurate information” on transferring lands. But in HCR 22, the House is also on record believing the transfer of lands could help address Idaho’s chronic problems of underfunded and overcrowded classrooms.
Regardless, the two resolutions, sponsored by Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, now go to the Senate for consideration.
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And if you’re keeping score, there could be no less than four education-related committees to watch during the legislative off-season: the public lands interim committee; an interim committee on school labor laws; Gov. Butch Otter’s education reform task force; and a task force on school safety.