CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 2340 is being considered on the floor on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-AK) on May 7, 2009, and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources which held a mark up on June 16, 2010, and reported the bill by unanimous.
H.R. 2340 would ratify an agreement between the State of Alaska, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Bering Straits Native Corporation and transfer approximately 3,100 acres of federal land to the State of Alaska and another 15,000 acres of federal land to the Bering Straits Native Corporation.
Under the Alaska Statehood Act of 1958, the State of Alaska is entitled to claim certain federal lands for the benefit of the state. Likewise, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 established regional native corporations with the power to claim federal lands for natives as a way to resolve land disputes within the state. Using the authority front the 1971 law, the Bering Straits Native Corporation claimed federal land along Salmon Lake in Alaska’s Seward Peninsula. However, the state had also claimed overlapping land along the lake and a dispute arose regarding who held a legal right to the claim. To resolve this dispute the state, the Bering Straits Native Corporation, and the BLS (who managed the land for the federal government) came to an agreement which would give some of the federal land to the state and a majority of the land to the native corporation.
According to CBO, H.R. 2340 would violate the Democrats’ PAYGO requirements by increases mandatory spending and reducing revenues without providing for an offsetting reduction in spending or increase in revenue. Specifically, the legislation would reduce offsetting receipts by forcing the federal government to relinquish a lease on the affected property worth approximately $1,500 annually. In addition, the legislation would increase direct spending by requiring the BLM to transfer about $15,000 in receipts collected over the life of the lease back to the state. Thus, CBO estimates that the legislation will increase direct spending by approximately $30,000 over the FY 2010 to FY 2020 period. Because this legislation is being considered under a suspension of the rules, the Democrat’s PAYGO requirements would be waived.