The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests will hold a hearing on the “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act” (S.1470) sponsored by Senator Jon Tester on Thursday Dec 17th at 2:30pm (Eastern time). This bill, which focuses on Montana, would designate hundreds of thousands of acres as wilderness, promote the economic and recreational development of National Forest System land, and allow for landscape-scale restoration projects. It will also provide direction for some aspects of forest management on the Beaverhead Deer Lodge and Kootenai National Forests.
Committee hearings are a critical step in the life of legislation. All Wilderness bills coming from the Senate are reviewd by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. The work of this committees is critical in determining whether or not a land use bill lives or dies or changes shape.
When most people think of the senate working on legislation they envision video clips of Senators giving dramatic Senate Floor speeches, or at least compelling sound bytes. So, it is natural to consider that the Senate Floor is where the work is done, but for the full senate to vote on the legislation the committee must first recommend the bill to the whole body. During their review, the committee may “mark up” (make changes) to the bill, sometimes in ways not envisioned by the the sponsor. While a hearing does not guarantee that a piece of legislation will be moved forward by the committee, it is a necessary step in that process. These hearings also give a good indication of how individual committee members may vote, what their concerns are, how a bill might be further shaped. To watch the committee hearings is to truly see democracy in action!
Witnesses Scheduled to Testity:
Marcilynn Burke, Bureau of Land Management deputy director
Harris Sherman, Agriculture undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment
Mike McGinley, county commissioner, Beaverhead County, Mont.
Sherman Anderson, president and owner of Sun Mountain Lumber Inc.
Ronald Hurt, county commissioner, Fremont County, Idaho
Tim Baker, executive director, Montana Wilderness Association
Matthew Koehler, executive director, Wild West Institute
Chris Wood, chief operating officer, Trout Unlimited.
You can watch the testimony in live streaming video by going to the Senate Commitee’s Website at 11:30am Pacific Time, 2:30pm Eastern Time.