Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Funds Passes Committee 022212
The House Natural Resources Committee passed the Federal Forest County Revenue, School and Jobs Act of 2012. The bill, H.R. 4019, was passed by 9 votes with the 45 member committee following party lines.
The bill is the battered remains of an agreement going back to the 1940s, in which counties would be compensated for the loss of tax revenue on thousands of acres of land in federal hands.
This year the agreement has shrunk to 60% of the revenue from 1980-2000. The money will be collected in a new trust fund through Annual Revenue Requirements (ARR) on the Forest Service, and is intended to come from Trust projects which “may include a timber sale, issuance of a grazing permit, issuance of a special use permit involving land use, mineral development, power generation, or recreational use, and projects implementing a community wildfire protection plan.”
Never mind that the Forest Service has timber and biomass sales going begging buyers, and never mind that it is more and more difficult to dig a hole or run a penstock on Forest Service Land. Unless the Secretary of Agriculture can slip “marijuana” between “mineral development” and “power generation”, the rural counties are likely to hope and wait more than collect from the trust.
The bill must now go to the full house; it’s unclear how the bill will fare then, but there are supporters who hope that the source of funding would be tied to something more profitable than forest products and recreation. There are likely to be bills calling for that, but at a time when urban areas are losing services, it’s a tough sell to take money out for places with only a handful of people.
Here for the full bill.