Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dangerous HR 622 Revival From Limbo

"H.R. 622 would negatively impact our valuable lands and waters
at a time when law enforcement is critically needed to safeguard
important natural and cultural resources and secure public safety"
Land Tawney, BHA President

H.R. 622 - Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act

Well hail, this is what I woke up to this morning. :(

One avenue of attack from the Sagebrush Rebellion is to remove our Federal public lands management agencies law enforcement officers. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) the sponsor for the infamous steal our public lands bill H.R. 621, also sponsored H.R.622, which I hope would simply die. HR 622 is a threat to our public lands, the resources, to recreationists on the public lands and to other federal employees who help to steward our public lands and resources. With Chaffetz not tolerating all the angry blowback from the public on his views and bills, he is leaving congress to join Fox News.

I just got notification that Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), a cosponsor of H.R. 622, "asked unanimous consent that he may hereafter be considered as the first sponsor of H.R. 622, a bill originally introduced by Representative Chaffetz, for the purpose of adding cosponsors and requesting reprintings pursuant to clause 7 of rule XII. Agreed to without objection."

So we are probably going to be seeing some action on this now.

"Another Chaffetz bill, H.R. 622, would eliminate law enforcement officers from U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands, making it even harder for the chronically underfunded agencies to protect wildlife habitat, prevent poaching, preserve cultural sites, prevent reckless off-road vehicle use and otherwise take care of the nearly 440 million acres of land these two agencies collectively manage.

Furthermore, an association of federal agents and officers said it "vehemently disagrees" with Chaffetz's proposal because it will put public and federal workers at risk and embolden anti-public lands interests like the Bundy family, potentially leading to more violent incidents like the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff.

In early February, a survey highlighted that many staffers from national wildlife refuges and other public lands feel less safe than in the past, with about one in five saying they, their staff or their families have been threatened or harassed over land management disputes. Slashing law enforcement in such places only emboldens anti-federal vigilantes like the Bundys to trash the land and resources we all treasure and take the law into their own hands."

H.R. 622 - "This bill declares that, by September 30, 2017, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) shall terminate the Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations unit and cease using Forest Service employees to perform law enforcement functions on federal lands.

Also by such date, the Department of the Interior shall terminate the Bureau of Land Management Office of Law Enforcement and cease using Interior employees to perform law enforcement functions on federal lands.

Interior shall make a grant to each state to permit the state to maintain law and order on federal land, protect individuals and property on federal lands, and enforce federal law.

Any state or local government receiving the grant or subgrant shall enter into an agreement with Interior or USDA, as appropriate, to address the maintenance of law and order and the protection of individuals and property on federal land.

In any such agreement, Interior or USDA must waive all civil claims against the state or local government and indemnify that government and save it harmless from all claims by third parties for property damage or personal injury that may arise out of law enforcement functions performed under the agreement.

A state or local law enforcement officer performing law enforcement functions pursuant to such an agreement shall not generally be deemed a federal employee with respect to hours of work, compensation rates, leave, unemployment compensation, and federal benefits, among other things."

We need to stop this immediately!

Rep. Chris Stewart - (202) 225-9730
323 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 

Here are the other Cosponsors, I see Texas just joined this team in May.

Like so many other Republicans I have tried to contact on public trust issues they are keen to strip the public of, if you are not in their district (you have to provide your zip code), the email form on their website will not let you submit an email comment. I have not been able to find an email address with which to email Stewart.

Anyone know of a Stewart email address that actually works, to get a comment on the public record that isn't whitewashed by a phone call message?

Here are a few articles on HR 622 when it was active to refresh people's minds as to how dangerous this bill is for everyone, including other federal employees:

Backcountry Hunters, Retired Federal Officers Urge Utah Rep To Drop HR 622

Bill to Cut Forest Service and BLM Enforcement is a Poacher’s Dream, Sportsman’s Nightmare by Ben Long

Sportsmen take aim at law enforcement bill.

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Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Bozeman, MT

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