Both of Nevada’s congressmen who represent the rural areas — Mark Amodei in the north and Steven Horsford in the south — put out verbatim press releases heralding the passage out of the House Natural Resources Committee by unanimous consent a package of seven bills that could have major economic impact on several communities if ever signed into law, as reported in this week’s newspaper column, available online at The Ely Times, the Elko Daily Free Press and the Mesquite Local News.
The same set of bills passed the same committee in January by a vote of 29-14, though there reportedly has been some tweaking of the bills since then.
The press releases said the bipartisan support clears the way for the legislation to be brought to the House floor in September as a non-controversial suspension bill.
For his part Amodei was quoted as saying, “These are community-driven lands measures that will create jobs without cost to the federal taxpayer. For the second time in two years, the eyes of Northern Nevada turn to the Senate.”
While the congressman from northern Nevada was not so gauche as to spell out what he meant by that remark, allow us to explain.
The Senate is under the leadership of Nevada’s senior senator, Harry Reid, who has not deigned it a priority to push various versions of these bills, including ones he and Sen. Dean Heller have sponsored over on the Senate side.
In fact, when last one of the bills in question progressed to the point of actually being voted on, Reid threw a monkey wrench into the works. What is now called H.R. 696, the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act, would allow the town of Yerington to buy, at market value, 12,500 acres of federal land adjacent to the Pumpkin Hollow copper mine for an industrial park. It is estimated the project could create 800 to 1,000 permanent jobs and about 500 jobs during the construction phase.
But Reid demanded that the bill include designation of 48,000 acres of wilderness, to be called the Wovoka Wilderness Area, a proposal the local residents had previously rejected. it now does.
The Yerington bill now has languished in Congress for six years.
Other bills in the package involve land in Humboldt County, Storey County, Carlin, Fernley, Elko and the Fallon Naval Air Station. That last land deal has been pending since 1991.
Harry Reid should take a little time between rants about the Koch brothers to put these bills to a Senate vote.
Reid discusses Yerington land bill … in December 2012: