Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined a number of western colleagues in urging House leadership to secure full funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) programs for fiscal year 2015. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Simpson and others urged that the federal government fulfill its responsibility to counties with tax-exempt federal land by fully funding both programs.
Legislation authorizing full funding of PILT expired at the end of September. The letter reads: “While it must be our ultimate goal to enact a long-term, sustainable solution to eliminate the ongoing uncertainty our counties face [while Congress authorizes these programs on a year-to-year basis], an extension and full-funding of these programs is essential to address immediate needs…Without congressional action, we risk severely crippling these counties’ ability to operate.
“Equally important is the funding that more than 700 forest counties and school districts receive through SRS. These payments honor the over 100 year old contract between the federal government and counties housing the 193 million acres of National Forest land. Due to extremely low productivity on the federal forests over the past two decades, these funds are more critical to counties’ well-being than ever. ”
Simpson has been a long-time advocate for extending the existing mandatory authorization of PILT. “PILT is the equivalent of the federal government paying the property taxes it owes to the counties where it owns land. If we fail to fully fund the government’s obligations under PILT, the federal government is essentially failing to pay its taxes and fulfill its commitments to counties throughout Idaho and the West. As a result, many counties—especially those with a large percentage of federal land—will be unable to provide essential services. These counties know that PILT is not an optional ‘nice to have’ but critical to their ability to serve their communities.”
The letter was signed by 41 members and delivered to House leadership on October 15, 2014.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today expressed continued opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to expand federal jurisdiction over water. This week the Small Business Administration expressed “deep concern” in a letter to the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the impact of the rule on agriculture and other small businesses. The letter echoed Simpson’s call to withdraw the rule.
“I have long expressed concern about the negative impact that the EPA’s attempted water grab would have on agriculture in Idaho. Unfortunately, we are now seeing these predictions play out,” said Simpson. “The more this rule is analyzed, the more ridiculous the EPA’s claims that it won’t negatively affect agriculture and other industries become. With the SBA weighing in that the rule would have ‘direct and significant impact on small businesses,’ it’s time to renew the call to withdraw this rule.”
This week Simpson joined colleagues in other dairy states in sending a letter to the EPA, the Corps, and USDA expressing concern about the impact that the rule would have on the dairy industry, among others. He crafted language in both the FY15 House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill and the FY15 House Energy and Water Appropriations bill to prevent the rule from moving forward.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported passage of H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act. This bill would allow employees to keep their work sponsored health plans by ensuring that existing group health plans can continue to be sold through 2019. It passed the House 247 to 167.
Last year, millions of plans in the individual insurance market were cancelled due to Obamacare mandates. Now, as many as 50 million workers with full coverage could face cancellation or disruption because their work sponsored plans would not meet new minimal essential coverage requirements.
H.R. 3522 ensures that group health plans that were offered in 2013 remain available and allows small businesses and their employees to purchase these plans regardless of whether they were on them in 2013. The Administration has provided limited relief for group plans that do not comply with Obamacare, but that relief only lasts through 2016. This bill would extend that opportunity to those not previously on such plans, and add three years of reprieve.
The bill expands on the “Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013,” which applied to individual market plans, and allowed individuals to keep their plans. That bill passed the House late last year.
“The President repeatedly promised that if Americans liked their health plans, they could keep them,” Said Congressman Simpson. “We now know that is not true. This bill would allow the Administration to start making good on that promise and also allow for more affordable coverage options to remain available to more Americans.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson cosponsored and supported final passage of H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, that supports the existing partnership between states and the federal government by preventing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. This bill addresses widespread concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new proposed rule expanding its jurisdiction over water throughout the country. H.R. 5078 passed the House with a bipartisan vote 262-152.
Simpson, who has long been a leader on this issue, included language in his FY2015 House Energy and Water Appropriations Act and authored language in the FY2015 House Interior and Environment Appropriations Act to prohibit the agencies from finalizing a rule on this issue, which the agencies proposed earlier this year.
“The EPA’s efforts to expand its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act by redefining waters of the U.S. have, not surprisingly, resulted in widespread uncertainty and deep concern for the agriculture sector in our state,” said Simpson. “I’m pleased that Congress has acted on this issue to recognize the existing and successful partnerships between states, land users, conservationists, and the federal government and stop the Obama Administration from expanding its jurisdiction over water throughout the U.S.”
H.R. 5078 is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate.
Legislation authored by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson that would authorize important but routine maintenance at Smith Gulch on the Salmon River in Idaho has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 398 to 1. H.R. 4283 would allow the use of limited maintenance equipment needed to maintain the routine functions and safety of the existing lodge.
“This legislation clarifies Congress’ intent of the 2004 amendments to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act which continued the existing use and occupancy of commercial services in this corridor of the Salmon River,” Simpson said. “The use of maintenance equipment would allow the lodge to eliminate the reliance on outdated energy sources and replace them with modest renewable energy sources, all while complying with existing laws.”
Currently, the Forest Service does not believe it has clear authorization to permit the use of the equipment necessary for the general upkeep of the facilities at the lodge. This bill clarifies the authorization so the corridor can be managed as it was intended under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
H.R. 4283 will now move to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today hailed passage of legislation to clarify federal regulation of pesticides by the House of Representatives. H.R. 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, would remove duplicative requirements that have added layers of paperwork on top of day-to-day operations for small businesses, farmers, and local governments by clarifying that pesticides which are already regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are not also regulated under the Clean Water Act. The bill, of which Simpson is a cosponsor, reinstates EPA’s long-standing position on the issue, which was overturned as the result of a lawsuit in 2009.
“This ruling didn’t make applying pesticides any safer; all it did was create duplicative and unnecessary new regulations that cost money and increase the risk of litigation for local governments, irrigation districts, and farmers and ranchers,” said Simpson. “Passing this legislation is common sense, and I’m hopeful that the Senate will act quickly on the bill so that we can address this issue once and for all.”
Simpson has been a cosponsor of similar legislation since 2011. H.R. 935 is bipartisan and widely supported in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. After passing the House by a vote of 267-161 today, it is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has cosponsored two new bills to address widespread concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new proposed rule expanding its jurisdiction over water throughout the U.S. H.R. 5071, the Agriculture Conservation Flexibility Act, would address some of the most controversial provisions in the proposed rule, withdrawing the Interpretive Rule proposed in March that has resulted in great uncertainty and concern across the agriculture sector. H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, would support the existing partnership between states and the federal government by preventing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.
“These two bills respond to some of the most troubling aspects of the EPA’s efforts to expand its jurisdiction,” said Simpson. “The EPA initially claimed that its new rule would provide clarity and flexibility for American agriculture, but my initial concerns that this would not be the case have proven true. Farmers across Idaho have expressed to me their serious concern about how the EPA may decide to interpret this rule in the future, leading to even less certainty than they have now.
“Moreover,” he added, “These bills recognize that the EPA’s proposed rule undoes many existing and successful partnerships for cleaning up and maintaining our waterways, whether those are partnerships between farmers, ranchers, and conservationists or local, state, and federal governments. I think it’s an arrogant assumption on the part of the EPA to say that they alone should have such authority over every drop of water across the country.”
H.R. 5071 and H.R. 5078 are currently under committee consideration in the House of Representatives.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson expressed great satisfaction at the news that H.R. 876, the Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act, which he authored, has been signed into law. Simpson first introduced the legislation in 2009, and today it was signed by the president.
The Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act corrects a long-standing oversight in law by authorizing a number of water diversions within the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area and the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness Area in Idaho which existed before the wilderness was created. The new law will enable landowners to do the necessary maintenance and repairs on these diversions.
“I’m so pleased that the Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act has finally been signed into law,” said Simpson. “I introduced this bill five years ago when the Forest Service discovered that it didn’t have the authority to permit repairs on an historic water diversion in the Frank Church. When we looked into the issue, we learned that a number of pre-existing diversions had been overlooked when the wilderness areas were created. Any one of these diversions could need repairs to maintain integrity and protect the surrounded ecosystem. With enactment of this bill, the necessary maintenance and repairs can now be done.”
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson applauded the decision to stop USDA’s planned closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois, Idaho. Simpson, who is working with other western representatives to prevent closure of the facility, recently urged the chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to deny a request by the Agricultural Research Service to reprogram funds from the sheep station, which would result in its closure. Simpson was pleased to learn that the request has been denied.
“Because of its location and expertise, experts at the Sheep Experimental Station Dubois are conducting research that no other facility is currently able to do, including unique research on the domestic-wildlife interface that is vital to the future of the sheep industry,” said Simpson. “Closing down the Dubois station would effectively end this important research, and it would be a huge loss to American agriculture, which is why my western colleagues and I are fighting so hard to keep it open.”
Last week Congressman Simpson also sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, expressing disappointment that neither the USDA nor ARS notified Congress of their intent to close the Dubois center. In the letter, Simpson and other western Members of Congress expressed concern that neither agency has explained how research currently underway in Dubois would be continued.
“I’m pleased that we have avoided shutting down the Dubois center for now, but I recognize that this decision does not eliminate the potential threat of future closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station,” Simpson said. “I will continue to work with the USDA, University of Idaho, and members of the sheep industry to ensure the long-term viability of the sheep center at Dubois. It is critical that the sheep industry have a voice in future USDA decisions affecting their economic vitality.”Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today defended western priorities in the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2015. Simpson, a member of the subcommittee, authored a number of provisions that were included in the bill, including language delaying the decision to list the sage-grouse as an endangered species by one year. Simpson successfully fought off efforts to strike this language during full committee consideration today.
“What we’re trying to say [with this language] is to give us the time to do the work that is necessary [to prevent the need for a listing].” Simpson said during the markup. “States like Idaho have been working diligently with the BLM and the Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a plan to preserve sage-grouse habitat. Do you know what the biggest threat to it is? Wildfire. Do you know what one of the things is that prevents those rangeland fires from spreading? Grazing. So there are some conflicts that go on here, and…the states and the federal government together are working hard to develop state management plans that [they can both] support. They just need the time to do it.”
This is complicated, and the states and the federal government are working together to find plans they can both support—they just need the time to do it.”
After the markup was complete, Simpson added, “A decision to list sage-grouse as an endangered species would have wide-reaching and devastating impacts on states like Idaho, and even stakeholders who have been at the table since the beginning of this process, like those in Idaho, are concerned that the court-imposed listing deadline has resulted in less collaboration and rushed decisions. They have acknowledged to me that they need more time to do the good work that will prevent a listing. This is why I once again authored a one-year delay in this bill.”
The bill also reflected Simpson’s influence in a number of other provisions, including full funding of wildfire suppression at the 10-year average, provisions improving the grazing permit process, and language prohibited the EPA from implementing controversial regulations over U.S. waters. The bill was voted out of committee this afternoon.Read More
2312 Rayburn HOB
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Michael (Mike) K. Simpson is serving his eighth term in the House of Representatives for Idaho’s Second Congressional District.
Mike serves on the House Appropriations Committee. He is the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. He also serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. These committees have jurisdiction over funding for a number of programs critical to Idaho, including the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, our National Parks, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Smithsonian Institute.
Simpson is one of the House’s leading advocates for a new energy policy and a renewed commitment to research and development of improved nuclear energy technologies. Mike has also gained national attention for his bill to split the massive, overburdened 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as well as his bill, the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act which addresses the concerns of economic growth and stability for rural Idaho and resolves long time wilderness debate over the Boulder-White Clouds.
His political career began in 1980, when he was elected to the Blackfoot City Council. In 1984, he was elected to the Idaho Legislature where he served until 1998, the last six years serving as Speaker. Simpson was born in Burley, Idaho and raised in Blackfoot. He graduated from Utah State University and earned his DMD from Washington University School of Dental Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduation, he joined his father and uncle at the Simpson Family Dental Practice in Blackfoot.
Mike is an avid golfer and enjoys painting. He has been married to his wife Kathy for over 40 years and they live in Idaho Falls.
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Simpson sends letter to EPA/USDA/Corps expressing concerns about the impacts of the proposed clean water act rule http://t.co/1msWAkT6UZ