Update

Natural Resources Committee

As a member of the Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR) Subcommittee, I asked Campbell County Commissioner Mark Christensen to testify before the Subcommittee on April 18th regarding the POWER Counties Act. This bill will amend the Mineral Leasing Act to allow counties to keep more of the revenue generated from federal mineral royalties for local use. Commissioner Christensen did a terrific job explaining why our local officials in Wyoming are best suited to make decisions about how to invest these additional funds for the benefit of our communities.

The House Natural Resources Committee considered a package of bills focused on recreation on public lands. I am a strong supporter of protecting access and multiple use on our public lands. However, while I support many of the provisions in H.R. 3400, I am concerned that Section 304 of the bill would have negative affects that would significantly outweigh the benefits of the other sections of the bill. Section 304 establishes a new National Recreation Area System and instructs the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to conduct inventories of public lands that have special recreation characteristics. This would impose an entirely new process and set of regulations that would limit multiple use of these lands. This type of inventory has created significant restrictions, for example, when it was used to set aside “Lands with Wilderness Characteristics.” New land designations setting the stage for future land withdrawals is bad policy. We should be ending these practices not perpetuating and expanding them. That is why I offered an amendment to strike Section 304 from the bill. Nine other members, including many of those from other western states, supported my amendment, and I will continue to fight against this dangerous approach if this bill moves forward onto the floor.

The Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman attended a Western Caucus luncheon to brief members. The Commissioner and I discussed the management of Big Horn Lake water levels and the Bureau’s commitment to full transparency and working with local stakeholders to ensure balanced management of the Big Horn Lake water levels. I am sending a representative from my office to the regional meeting and Senators Barrasso, Enzi and I will be following up with Commissioner Burman and Secretary Zinke to protect Wyoming’s interests.

Rules Committee

In honor of Tax Day, the Rules Committee focused on tax-based legislation. We provided a rule for the Protecting Children from Identity Theft Act to ensure that the Social Security Administration develops a database to provide fraud protection data to certified financial institutions and the Taxpayer First Act to modernize and improve the structure and services of the Internal Revenue Service. We also, provided a rule for the 21st Century IRS Act to ensure the security of information at the IRS by improving cyber security and taxpayer identity protection and modernize the information technology. All three pieces of legislation passed out of the Rules Committee and were passed in the House.

Armed Services Committee

This Wednesday the Armed Services Committee was briefed on the April 13th U.S.-UK- France missile strike against Syria’s chemical weapons facilities by USAF Director of Operations, Lt. Gen. John L. Dolan and USMC Director for Intelligence, Major General Michael S. Groen. As you may recall from last week’s newsletter, I discussed the need for a response with Secretary of Defense Mattis during his appearance in front of the House Armed Services Committee.

Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael D. Griffin and Chairman of the Defense Innovation Board Dr. Eric Schmidt testified before the House Armed Services Committee regarding the Department of Defense’s plan to ensure the United States is keeping pace in the defense technology sector. Specifically, I asked about impediments to bringing next generation technologies, like hypersonic weapons, into full operational status. It was clear from the hearing that a lack of investment and a risk-avoidance culture has put us in a situation where we are at risk of falling behind the Russians and the Chinese on many next gen weapons and systems. This is unacceptable and something that I will continue working on the House Armed Services Committee to address.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert B. Neller held a roundtable discussion for the House Armed Services Committee. General Neller expressed the Marine Corps’ top priorities and key issues regarding next year’s budget requests. He also discussed the challenges the Marine Corps’ is facing and what we can do next year to overcome them.

Visits

Cody’s Bert and Brenda Miller and Rock Spring’s Taylor Jones from the Wyoming State Snowmobile Association stopped by my office to discuss recreation on our public lands. Thank you for taking the time to discuss these issues with me.

Thank you to Kristen Gunther from the Wyoming Outdoor Council for meeting with me to discuss the WPLI and Secretary of the Interior Zinke’s recent order on habitat and migration of elk and mule deer.

I want to thank the President of UW Dr. Laurie Nichols for meeting with me to talk about the PROPSER Act, the disbursement of Pell grants, and international students.

The Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association met with me. Thank you for taking the time to discuss work visas and tax issues relating to your industry.

I had a great time speaking with the American Council of Snowmobile Associations about recreational access and protecting multiple use of our public lands. Thank you for having me.

I want to thank Military Officers Association of America Mary Brown from Cheyenne for meeting with me. It was an honor to be able to discuss important issues regarding the National Guard and veterans.

I had the pleasure to meet with and want to thank Dena Egenhoff from the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities for taking the time to speak with me.

I was honored to meet Political Science Instructor Erich Frankland and some exceptional students from Casper College who are attending the American Committees on Foreign Relations conference. I was impressed by their thoughtful and engaging questions about the impact of our nation’s trade policies and talks with North Korea. They’ve done a great job representing our state and spreading common sense Wyoming values while visiting Washington!

Thanks to Lander’s Linda Barton and Kate Foster from the Afterschool Alliance for stopping by the Capitol to discuss the importance of after-school programs for our Wyoming kids.

Newsworthy

The delegation wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to end Japan’s 3.3 percent tariff on U.S. soda ash.

“Since 2014, U.S. exports of natural soda ash to Japan have decreased by 2 percent while Chinese exports of synthetic soda ash to Japan have increased by 73 percent. The delegation wrote that synthetic soda ash is lower quality and is less environmentally friendly than natural soda ash”

Read the full article here.