(Janine Hansen) – AB 186 is one of the most innovative and creative bills to surface in the Nevada Legislature in years, thanks to Assemblyman Ed Goedhart. This bill would use the power of eminent domain to retrieve Nevada land now controlled by the Feds though the likes of the BLM and Forest Service.
The bill would then put the land into productive use for construction and maintenance of renewable energy generation or any other project that uses renewable energy to generate electricity. In some ongoing cases it has taken 11 years to go through the suffocating federal red tape to get any energy projects on line in Nevada. This is appalling, especially when viewed through the energy rising cost crises imposed upon us by Obama’s policies and world events.
During the 2009 Legislature, Former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley introduced AJR10 which passed the Legislature unanimously. AJR10 urged Congress to enact legislation requiring the Secretary of the Interior to identify and convey ownership of parcels of land managed or controlled by the BLM, which were suitable for the development of renewable energy projects. The problem with AJR10 is the same as all Resolutions, it has no teeth and Congress just ignored the polite resolution as usual.
The U.S. Constitution in Art. I, Section 8, Clause 17 states that the Federal Government can exercise “Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings…”
The United States Government has abandoned the original intent of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing that states would enter the Union on an “equal footing” and control their own land, like all of the states east of the Mississippi. With 87% of Nevada controlled by the Feds, we are a virtual colony, not an equal state, left to beg scraps from the Big Government Table. No other state has more land under federal control than Nevada.
The U.S. government has usurped control of Nevada’s land depriving citizens of access to the land for recreation, economic enterprise, and a tax base, which severely impacts small counties, in particular counties like Lincoln, where only 1% of land is private hence taxable.
This bill would begin the process of returning control of Nevada lands to Nevada. It would be an economic boon providing opportunities for business, creating jobs, providing power, and increasing the tax base and revenues without increasing taxes.
Steve Sebelius stated in his SlashPolitics Blog that the Fifth Amendment’s eminent domain provisions don’t apply in the case of a State taking Federal “public” lands only when a State takes private land. That may have some merit, but unless we challenge the Feds usurped control of our land, we are doomed to continue living as serfs in a state in which the vast majority of land is controlled by the Feds.
In 2010, Utah passed a more extensive eminent domain bill to reclaim federal land intent upon provoking a court challenge on the basic issues of access to the land based upon state sovereignty. Only 60 percent of Utah is under the heavy hand of the Feds who have shut down vast areas containing rich mineral, oil and coal deposits. Utah is looking for other states to join this critical battle. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Nevada’s Assembly Judiciary Committee has the same freedom thinking vision as Utah.
Assemblyman Goedhart’s bill is one of great merit challenging the Federal Government’s strangle hold on Nevada. The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee expressed concern that the bill was unconstitutional. The interpretation of the Constitution has changed over time.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott Decision in 1857, decided that people of African decent, whether born in the U.S. or not, had no constitutional rights and could be held as slaves. That very bad decision was “constitutional” according to the Supreme Court. Thankfully, that very bad decision was later abandoned. The dreadful Dred Scott decision was remedied by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The original intent of the Constitution was that each state should control the land/property within in their own states. After all, the states created the Federal Government not the other way around. Since then, the pendulum has swung far left giving the economic life blood of our western states…land…into the strangling grip of the Federal Government.
Hooray for Assemblyman Goedhart who has displayed the courage and vision through AB186 to begin the process of restoring control of Nevada’s lands to Nevadans. Constitutional change and liberty only come through those who have the courage and vision to challenge the crippling decisions of the past. Assemblyman Goedhart’s bill is a big step in the right direction to take back Nevada’s land.
(Janine Hansen is a lobbyist for the Nevada Committee for Full Statehood)