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One of the most important aspects of Congress is developing, making, and monitoring laws. New laws are proposed every week, but few get enacted into law. The process of taking an idea to solve a problem, turning it into a bill, getting it through the relevant committees, and then getting a vote on the Floor of the House, is difficult. Of the thousands of bills proposed in a year, fewer than 10% will make it to the House Floor for a vote. As the Representative of Arizona’s Fourth Congressional District, Congressman Gosar is trying to be actively involved in sponsoring and drafting legislation about issues that are important to you.
PAST LEGISLATION 112th CONGRESS
H.R. 1904 the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011
H.R. 1904 authorizes a land exchange in the Copper Basin, opening up the third largest undeveloped copper resource in the world. This land exchange is the first-step in starting a mining project in Pinal County that will support over 3,700 jobs and significantly help the United States meet the growing demand for copper with domestic resources.
An independent study conducted by Elliott D. Pollack & Company estimates the total economic impact of the project on the State of Arizona to be over $61.4 billion, nearly $1 billion per year, and another $20 billion in federal, state, county and local tax revenue.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the United States currently imports over 30 percent of the country’s copper demand. That demand will continue to increase due to the growing demand for alternative energy infrastructure and other construction needs across the country. Just as relying on foreign oil imports threatens national security, relying on foreign copper suppliers also potentially threatens U.S. industry. The United States must use domestic resources to meet that growing demand and this legislation is a major step in the right direction. The project could produce enough copper equal to 25% of the current U.S. demand.
Getting this mine going has been a priority for Arizona for over 10 years. Further, a prior version of this legislation was stalled for over six years. However, under Congressman Gosar’s guidance, H.R. 1904 was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee and was sent to the full House of Representatives on July 13th. This is the first time it has ever even been voted on by the committee of jurisdiction, let alone advanced to the House floor.
H.R.489: To clarify the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior with respect to the C.C. Cragin Dam and Reservoir, and for other purposes.
When government agencies fight among themselves, the public always loses. That was the situation facing the operators of the C.C. Cragin Dam, and the reason for H.R. 489. The C.C. Cragin project spans across federally owned land in the Coconino and Tonto National Forests and is a vital part of the Salt River Project (SRP) Federal Reclamation Project. The C.C. Cragin Dam plays an essential role in providing water for the City of Phoenix and Gila County. Towns like Payson and other neighboring communities rely on this pipeline to supply municipal drinking water to the community.
For years, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation have argued over whom had the responsibility for approving requested operation, maintenance and repairs related to the C.C. Cragin Project. That dispute has led to untimely repair delays, cost increases, and a waste of precious water resources.
H.R. 489 settles this jurisdiction issue once and for all. Specifically the legislation sets a model that can mitigate future disputes. It grants the Department of Interior exclusive jurisdiction to manage the Cragin Dam Project and grants the Department of Agriculture administrative jurisdiction over land management activities that do not conflict or adversely affect the operation, maintenance, or replacement/repair of the project. This bill is a compromise between all relevant parties including the Administration.
This legislation has moved swiftly through the legislative process. It received strong bipartisan support, receiving the vote of every member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Republican and Democrat. The bill is ready to be voted on by the full U.S. House of Representatives.
H.R.1150 Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2011
Did you know that the health insurance industry is one of the very few industries that are exempt from federal antitrust law? The McCarran Ferguson Act of 1945 exempts the business of insurance from most federal regulation – and does not require the states to regulate the industry either. There is no logical reason why the insurance industry should be exempt from the same laws with which almost every other business in the United States must comply.
Congressman Gosar believes that health insurance companies should be required to compete fairly and honestly for the patient dollar, and this requires the repeal of the McCarran Ferguson Act. This is why he introduced H.R. 1150, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, to repeal the McCarran Ferguson Act and require health insurance companies to avoid what we consider anti competitive practices such as sharing premium and actuarial information.
H.R. 1150 would also prohibit federal class action lawsuits against insurance companies for potential violations of antitrust law, ensuring that this reform could take place without creating unnecessary lawsuits that benefit trial lawyers more than injured parties. Congressman Gosar is very proud of this bipartisan effort and looks forward to building support for it.
H.R.2562 the Wallow Fire Recovery and Monitoring Act
The Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in the State of Arizona's recorded history, started in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest on May 29th, 2011. In a little over a month, the wildfire charred more than 538,000 acres or 841 square miles of land in Apache, Greenlee, Graham, and Navajo counties, including the San Carlos and Fort Apache Reservations, in Arizona and Catron County in New Mexico.
In the wake of this tragic and catastrophic wildfire, the Wallow Fire Recovery and Monitoring Act forms a responsible balance between environmental and economic interests. The legislation requires a comprehensive evaluation of the forest conditions and hazard tree and fire-damaged timber resources across the Wallow Fire Area, as well as limits the areas where dead and dying trees can be removed to community protection management areas.
Tree removal would be limited to hazard trees and trees that are already down, dead, broken, or severely root sprung trees where high mortality is expected. This legislation also provides for an expedited, but thorough, environmental review of tree removal projects proposed in the Wallow Fire Area, including full public participation in the development of such projects.
Under the Act, the removal projects must be carried out within 18 months following its enactment to ensure the work is done while the resources are still salvageable. The revenues generated from the projects would then be put toward forest restoration treatments in the Apache-Sitgraves National Forest.
H.R.922 the Burn Area Flood Prevention Act of 2011
The Burn Area Prevention Act of 2011, legislation oriented towards protecting individuals whose property is directly affected by disasters on federal lands. Specifically, the bill authorizes the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to waive the 30-day waiting period for flood insurance when private property faces a flood threat caused by wildfire.
This legislation is intended to address a major problem facing constituents affected by the Schultz Pass wildfire and floods. Last June, the Schultz Pass wildfire destroyed more than 15,000 acres of Forest Service land along the steep terrain of the San Francisco Peaks, which left little ground vegetation to absorb and hold back rainwater. The Forest Service Burn Area Emergency Response Team issued a hydrology specialist report that assessed post-fire watershed conditions and determined that the residents living near the base of the Peaks would face a constant daily flooding threat from summer monsoon storms.
Residents proceeded to purchase flood insurance but just two weeks later, after nearly two inches of rain fell in less than one hour, flash flooding occurred in the unincorporated residential communities downstream from the burn area. Widespread flooding and debris disrupted public infrastructure, damaged homes and killed a 12-year-old-girl. Affected homeowners who purchased flood insurance were not eligible for coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program at the time of the loss because of the statutorily mandated 30-day waiting period before flood insurance coverage could take effect. There simply was not 30 days between the time residents were notified that they were in a newly created flood plain, and the upcoming monsoons.
In addition, the legislation amends the FLAME Act (Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement Act of 2009) to allows funds allocated in this account to be used for burn area responses, including flood prevention. This would allow communities like Coconino County that have flood risks created by wild fire to use these funds for flood mitigation.
H.R.1038 to authorize the conveyance of two small parcels of land within the boundaries of the Coconino National Forest containing private improvements that were developed based upon the reliance of the landowners in an erroneous survey conducted in May 1960.
H.R. 1038 would correct a boundary dispute in the Mountainaire subdivision in Coconino County. In November 2007, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) completed a land survey in the Subdivision which found that a survey completed in 1960 incorrectly identified private property as property owned by the United States Forest Service (USFS). In doing so, the federal government took away land that residents had developed and paid taxes on for years.
This boundary dispute was caused by an erroneous survey conducted over four decades ago at no fault of the homeowners. H.R. 1038 would authorize the sale of the land to the homeowners so that they own rights to property to that land that was unfairly taken from them by the federal government.
H.R.1743 Legislation to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center in Prescott, Arizona, as the Dr. Cameron McKinley Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center.
Dr. Cameron McKinley is a long time resident of Yavapai County, Arizona who spent the Vietnam War providing excellent behavioral health care to our soldiers overseas – and after the war, served as Chief of Psychology at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Prescott, Arizona. In the post war years, post traumatic stress disorder was an unfamiliar, taboo topic for many – but Dr. McKinley encouraged veterans to talk about their experiences and support each other, making him a medical provider very much ahead of his time.
Dr. McKinley’s work has been the underpinning of veterans’ health efforts in Yavapai County for many decades now. This is why Congressman Gosar has asked the Veterans Affairs Committee to rename the Prescott Vet Center after Dr. McKinley in honor of his work.
In addition to introducing stand-alone legislation, Congressman Gosar has utilized the open amendment process in the U.S. House of Representatives to advocate for policy initiatives important to his constituents. The following amendments were introduced by Congressman Gosar, adopted, and ultimately passed as part of legislation by the United States House of Representatives:
Gosar Amendment to Restore 2nd Amendment Rights on Army Corps of Engineers Administered Recreational Lands
Last Congress, legislation that allowed citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms on recreational lands, unintentionally omitted the 11.7+ million acres of land, including 400 lakes and river projects, 90,000 campsites and 4,000 miles of trails administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Congressman Gosar’s amendment restores our constitutional right to bear arms on recreational lands, regardless of what federal agency administers the land.
Gosar Amendment to Cut Legislative Branch Spending
Congressman Gosar and Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (R-NY) introduced an amendment that trimmed funding for the United States Botanic Garden by 5.3%, reducing the budget by $632,780, and adding those funds to the Spending Reduction Account, which goes to pay off the deficit.
While I truly values the United States Botanic Garden, our fiscal crisis threatens the well-being of every single American, and even good and worthy programs such as the United States Botanic Garden cannot be spared from our effort to scale down our federal budget significantly.
Gosar Pro-Israel Amendment
Congressman Gosar introduced an amendment to the FY2012 Department of Defense Appropriations bill which prohibits any military funds or assistance to go towards the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, or the Government of Iran.
The amendment, which was passed unanimously by the House, reaffirms U.S. foreign policies towards Israel, against terrorism, and the support and safety of our troops.
I also support a wide array of legislative proposal introduced by my colleagues in the U.S House of Representatives. A list of legislation I have cosponsored can be found below. Please contact my offices to share your thoughts on current legislation that may affect you, your family and your community.