CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 1275 is being considered on the floor under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) on March 3, 2009. The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark-up and reported the bill, as amended, on June 10, 2009.
H.R. 1275 would authorize the exchange of approximately 41,000 acres of land owned by the State of Utah and approximately 46,000 acres of U.S. federal land. Under the bill, the Secretary of the Interior would be required to accept the exchange if it is offered by the State.
The non-Federal land acquired by the United States under this Act shall be withdrawn from the operation of the mineral leasing laws until the later of two years of enactment or until resource management plans are implemented.
Under the transfer, the Federal government would be required to continue any current grazing permits and the holder of a grazing permit would be allowed to renew their permit. However, nothing would prohibit the Federal or State government from altering or cancelling a grazing permit if the land is conveyed for non-grazing purposes.
H.R. 1275 would require the Secretary of Interior and the State to make records relating to hazardous materials on the exchanged land. The bill would also authorize "such sums as are necessary to carry out this act."
The State of Utah holds approximately 3.3 million acres of land in trust for the State's school trust lands program. The land was reserved for the program when Utah became a State and the Federal government ceded the land to Utah in exchanging for not applying State taxes to federally held land. Under the program, the land is managed by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration and all revenue generated from the land is placed into a trust fund that is distributed to public schools. The school trust lands include roughly 46,000 acres that the federal government has deemed particularly valuable and would like to move the land under federal control. H.R. 1275 would allow the transfer to take place if the State requests it. The Federal government already owns 57 percent of the State of Utah.
A CBO score for H.R. 1275 was not yet available. However, the legislation would authorize "such sums as are necessary" to pay for the land transfer authorized by the bill.