Lawmakers open bill on new federal lands council to changes

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A bill that would create a legislative council on federal land issues has been sent to the full Senate for possible changes after a panel of lawmakers heard from a handful of citizens concerned by the proposal.

Roughly 150 people signed up Monday afternoon to testify before the Idaho Senate Resources and Environment Committee on the bill presented by Soda Springs Sen. Mark Harris. But, with a tight schedule and committee members expected to go to other meetings that afternoon, committee chairman Sen. Lee Heider, a Republican from Twin Falls, warned the attendees in advance that only three or four of them would likely get to speak on the bill. Still, a show of hands showed nearly everyone in attendance was opposed to the legislation.

The bill would create a council made up of eight lawmakers - four each from the Senate and the House - to "monitor and review policies and issues associated with federal lands in the state of Idaho," and assist in the development and implementation of related legislation and "facilitate contracts" between the federal government and state or local governments, individuals or others.

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