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Federal Legislative Update

The first session of the 114th Congress convened on January 6, 2015. ARRA will keep you posted as legislation of interest is introduced in the 114th Congress.

The Republicans have a 245-188 majority in the House with two vacancies and a 54-46 majority in the Senate. The Senate number includes two members who are independents, but align with the Democrats.

The following bills are currently pending:

H.R. 22 - DRIVE Act
STATUS: Passed Senate
Rep. Davis (R-IL) - Amended to reauthorize transportation programs for 6 years with funding for 3 years. Reauthorizes the Recreational Trails Program with no changes. (Amended by the Senate to become transportation authorization legislation.)

H.R. 384 - Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act
STATUS: In House Cmte.; provisions also included in S. 356, below.
Rep. Lummis (R-WY) - Amends Equal Access to Justice Act and the federal judicial code to require Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the U.S. to report to Congress annually on amount of fees and other expenses awarded to prevailing parties other than the U.S. in certain administrative proceedings and civil action court cases (excluding tort cases) to which the U.S. is a party, including settlement agreements. Requires that such reports: describe number, nature, and amount of awards, claims involved in the controversy, and any other relevant information that may aid Congress in evaluating scope and impact of such awards; and be made available to the public online. Directs Chairman to create and maintain online a searchable database containing specified information with respect to each award, including name of the agency involved, name of each party to whom award was made, amount of award, and basis for finding that the position of the agency concerned was not substantially justified.

H.R. 581 - National Heritage Area Act of 2015
STATUS: In House Cmte.
Rep. Dent (R-PA) - Establishes system of National Heritage Areas through which Secretary of Interior may provide technical and financial assistance to local coordinating entities to support establishment, development, and continuity of NHAs. System to be composed of NHAs designated by Congress before enactment of this Act or under this Act. Prohibits NHAs from being considered to be units of the National Park System, or subject to the authorities applicable to such units. Specifies criteria that Secretary shall apply to determine suitability and feasibility of designating proposed NHAs. States that designation of an NHA shall be by Act of Congress and contingent on prior completion of a management plan and an affirmative determination by the Secretary that the area meets such criteria. Sets forth requirements for NHA management plans.

H.R. 845 - National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act
STATUS: In House Cmte.
Rep. Lummis (R-WY) - Requires the Forest Service to develop a national strategy with the goal of doubling the amount of trail maintenance carried out by volunteers and partners within five years, and address long-term liability issues by requiring costs be spread out among all administrative units and clarifying how volunteers with partner organizations are classified.

H.R. 999/S. 1040 - ROV In-Depth Examination Act or RIDE Act
STATUS:In House Cmte./Reported out of Senate Cmte.
Rep. Pompeo (R-KS)/Sen. Heller (R-NV) - Defers further action by CPSC on mandatory standards for ROVs until after the completion of a study that CPSC will contract with the National Academy of Sciences to determine the technical validity of the proposed lateral stability and vehicle handling requirements, the number of ROV rollovers that would be prevented if the rule were adopted, whether there is a technical basis for the proposal to provide information on a point-of-sale hangtag about a vehicle’s rollover resistance on a progressive scale and the effects on the utility of ROVs used by the U.S. military if the rule were adopted.

H.R. 1555 - Forest Access in Rural Communities Act of 2015
STATUS: In House Cmte.
Rep. Walden (R-OR) - Ceases implementation and enforcement of the 2005 Forest Service Travel Management Rule. Requires Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Assessment be performed by National Forests on any travel management decision. Also requires Forest Service to consult and obtain concurrence of affected local counties on travel management decisions.

H.R. 1838 - Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act
STATUS: In House Cmte.
Rep. Farr (D-CA) - Establishes 75,000 acre Clear Creek National Recreation Area. Designates 21,000 acres of federal land in CA as wilderness. Implements interim management plan that would allow for motorized uses in the NRA. Requires permanent management plan be in place in two years that shall include a hazards education program to inform people entering the NRA of the asbestos-related risks associated with various activities within the NRA, including OHV recreation, and a user fee program for motorized vehicle use within the NRA and guidelines for the use of the funds collected for the management and improvement of the Area. Authorizes BLM to sign a cooperative management agreement with state or local agencies (e.g. state parks could run it as an SRVA).

H.R. 1991 - Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act Extension Act of 2015
STATUS: Reported out of House Cmte.
Rep. Bishop (R-UT) - Extends the authorization of FLREA through 9/30/2017.

H.R. 2109 - Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act
STATUS: In House Cmte.
Rep. Huizenga (R-MI) - Amends Endangered Species Act of 1973 to replace current standard for awarding court costs, including attorney fees, in citizen suits with the federal judicial code standard for awarding costs to a prevailing party.

H.R. 2353 - Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015
Rep. Shuster (R-PA) - Extends authorization of MAP-21 which funds transportation programs, including the Recreational Trails Program, through 7/31/15.

H.R. 2609 - Right-of-Way for American Drivers Act of 2015
STATUS: In House Cmte.
Rep. Johnson (R-TX) - Eliminates the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP); TAP is the section that authorizes the Recreational Trails Program.

H.R. 2822/S. 1645 - Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016
STATUS: Reported out of House Cmte./Reported out of Senate Cmte.
Rep. Calvert (R-CA)/Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) - Includes funding for the National Forest System and BLM land and resource management. Amended on the House floor to include provisions related to the Sage Grouse and National Monuments. Extends authorization of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act through 9/30/17.

H.R. 3236 - Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015
Rep. Shuster (R-PA) - Extends highway program funding authorization for 3 months until 10/29/15.  Authorization includes the Recreational Trails Program; keeps spending at fiscal year 2014 levels.

S. 193 - Inventoried Roadless Area Management Act
STATUS: In Senate Cmte.
Sen. Barrasso (R-WY) - Releases from further study for wilderness designation certain inventoried roadless areas in National Forests in Wyoming. Declares the areas are no longer subject to the land use restrictions of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule and that they shall not be managed to preserve roadless or wilderness characteristics.

S. 556 - Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015
STATUS: In Senate Cmte.; includes provisions from H.R. 384, above.
Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) - Omnibus package of bills to increase access and opportunities for hunting on public lands.

S. 390 - Making Public Land Public Access Act
STATUS: In Senate Cmte.
Sen. Tester (R-MT) - Directs Interior and Agriculture Secretaries to ensure, from amounts requested for the Land and Water Conservation Fund per fiscal year, that not less than greater of 1.5% of requested amounts or $10 million be made available for certain projects that secure recreational public access to federal public land that has significantly restricted access for hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes through rights-of-way or acquisition of land (or any interest in land) from willing sellers.

National Monuments

The Antiquities Act provides that the President has the authority to declare areas, “…the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible…” as National Monuments. It is clear that several Presidents have stretched this authority to designate enormous swaths of public lands as National Monuments, often locking out multiple uses like motorized recreation."

In this section of the Federal Legislative Update page, ARRA will keep you up-to-date on National Monument bills under consideration in Congress.

H.R. 330 - Marine Access and State Transparency
STATUS: In House Cmte.
Rep. Young (R-AK) - Requires the President to obtain Congressional approval, as well as approval of the respective state legislature before moving forward with a National Monument designation.

H.R. 488/S. 232 - Congressional Approval for National Monuments in NV
STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.
Rep. Amodei (R-NV)/Sen. Heller (R-NV) - Requires the President to obtain Congressional approval before moving forward with any National Monument designation in NV.            

H.R. 761/S. 393 - Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Act
STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.
Rep. Thompson (R-CA)/Sen. Boxer (D-CA)- Designates the 350,000 acre Berryessa Snow Mountain region as a National Conservation Area (NCA). Intended to protect existing recreational uses, including motorized recreation on authorized routes.

H.R. 900/S. 228 - National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015
STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.
Rep. Labrador (R-ID)/Sen. Crapo (R-ID) - Requires the President to obtain Congressional approval, as well as the approval of the respective state legislature, and the application of NEPA processes before moving forward with a National Monument designation.

H.R. 3389 - National Monument Designation Transparency Act
STATUS: In House Cmte.
Rep. Nunes (R-CA) -  Bars President from issuing a proclamation to designate a national monument before end of a 30-day period beginning when language of the proposed proclamation is provided by President to Congress, Governor of each state, and specified local and tribal government officials having jurisdiction over land within proposed monument.  Requires at least one public hearing and notice and comment period after issuance of a monument proclamation. Requires President to report to Congress on any hearings held, any written comments received, and impact of such designation on communities within monument boundaries, the nation's energy security, and interests, rights, and uses associated with the land within the monument. Makes a Monument proclamation ineffective 2 years following its issuance, unless approved by Act of Congress.

S. 437 - Improved National Monument Designation Process Act
STATUS: In Senate Cmte.
Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) - Requires the President to obtain Congressional approval, as well as the approval of the respective state legislature, and the application of NEPA processes before moving forward with a National Monument designation.

Wilderness Designations

Congress established the wilderness designation for public lands in the Wilderness Act of 1964.  To be designated as wilderness, the proposed area must be "an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not area of undeveloped federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation." Within designated wilderness areas, "there shall be no temporary (or permanent) road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanized transport, and no structure or installation within any such area."

In this section of the Federal Legislative Update page, ARRA will keep you up-to-date on wilderness bills under consideration in Congress.

H.R. 239 - Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act
STATUS: In House Cmte.
Rep. Huffman (D-CA) - Designates 1,559,538 acres of land within Alaska in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness and components of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

H.R. 996 - Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act
STATUS: In House Cmte.
Rep. Maloney (D-NY) - Designates 23 million acres of public lands in ID, MT, OR, WA and WY as wilderness.

H.R. 1138/S.583 - Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act
STATUS: In House Cmte./In Senate Cmte.
Rep. Simpson (R-ID)/Sen. Risch (R-ID) - Designates 296,000 acres of Forest Service lands in Idaho as wilderness.

S.414 - California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2015
STATUS: In Senate Cmte.
Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) - Creates two new national monuments: the 965,000 acre Mojave Trails National Monument and the 135,000 Sand to Snow National Monument. Designates 250,000 acres of BLM lands as wilderness. Designates five existing BLM Off-Highway Vehicle areas (covering approximately 142,000 acres of California desert) as permanent OHV recreation areas.

S. 755 - Tennessee Wilderness Act
STATUS: In Senate Cmte.
Sen. Alexander (R-TN) - Designates 20,000 acres of Forest Service lands in Tennessee as wilderness.

S. 1240 - Cerros del Norte Conservation Act
STATUS: In Senate Cmte.
Sen. Heinrich (D-NM) - Designates 21,000 acres of National Monument lands in New Mexico as wilderness.

S. 1255 - Sutton Mountain and Painted Hills Area Preservation and Economic Enhancement Act of 2015
STATUS: In Senate Cmte.
Sen. Merkley (D-OR) - Designates 58,000 acres of BLM lands in Oregon as wilderness.


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