Anti-Fed Westerners Stalled

It appears little relief is in sight for the long-simmering frustrations of Western conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill and private property rights advocates in general. Hamstrung by what they see as a lack of support from GOP leadership, an active band of environmentally friendly Republican moderates and an unsympathetic Clinton administration, property rights advocates say there is no clear path to legislation ensuring that landowners' private property is protected from regulatory actions they believe constitute a "taking" by the government.

House Resources Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee Chairman Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho, a staunch advocate for landowners, summed up the frustration in a recent interview with CongressDaily. "There are so few of us dedicated to the fight," she said, adding: "We haven't got support from the leadership. [T]hey respond to the pressure of the moment."

Defenders of Property Rights President Nancie Marzulla echoed Chenoweth's assessment, but added that even property rights advocates in Congress, in some cases, "seem more concerned about being re-elected" than promoting their agenda.

One advocate, who asked not to be named, said he believes the GOP shot itself in the foot on the issue of takings compensation back in the 104th Congress--when it sought to push a plank of its "Contract With America" that would have defined a taking in broad terms. "I think they just screwed the issue up so badly in 1995. ... The Contract With America provision was so extreme and ill-considered ... that it let Democrats portray property rights as an extreme issue," this source said.

Image problems notwithstanding, Marzulla believes Republicans are not flexing their muscles enough. She noted that Westerners have been somewhat active in this Congress and that the House late last week passed the "Tucker Act Shuffle" takings bill that would clarify court jurisdiction over property rights lawsuits and increase the access of citizens to the courts.

Nevertheless, Marzulla said, other pivotal legislation, such as Endangered Species Act legislation sponsored by Senate Environment Drinking Water, Fisheries and Wildlife Subcommittee Chairman Dirk Kempthorne, R-Idaho, does not go far enough. Kempthorne's bill "does help some landowners ... but there is so much more that can be done. I scratch my head and say, 'Aren't we in the majority?' "

Myron Ebell, policy director for the Frontiers of Freedom Institute, said he finds the lack of widespread Republican support for takings compensation, either as a stand-alone bill or part of other environmental bills, "puzzling [given that] property rights is an absolute winner amongst Republican [constituencies]." On the ESA, however, Ebell said Kempthorne "should be embarrassed and ashamed" by his bill, which fails to provide for takings compensation for small landowners.

A Kempthorne spokesman disputed that assessment. "Kempthorne in general staunchly supports private property rights [but] it's a question of pragmatism," he said. "[I]f the measure had everything [Kempthorne] would want ... it probably wouldn't be signed into law."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.