Local senators introduce legislation to help rural communities

Posted at 10:21 PM, May 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-31 00:21:59-04

Senators from Idaho and Oregon are introducing legislation to give rural communitIes a yearly influx of federal money.

Money they say is owed because of nearby federal land.

In fact, a bi-partisan effort is underway to protect rural communities facing lean times because of reduced timber cutting on federal lands.
Sen. Jim Risch explains why. "The federal government owns 2 of 3 acres in Idaho but they're not required to pay taxes. So every year we're forced to go to the government to pay what's an obligation on their part for services they got from local governments."

Idaho Republican Senators Risch, Mike Crapo and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon are trying to create permanent funding for those communities who's schools especially are often on the edge financially
Brian Hunicke is the superintendent of the Basin School District which is among those who would benefit, "It gives us a little bit of a cushion and helps us deal with emergencies and if the opportunity comes up with student field trips and athletics and those kinds of things."

The senators say the legislation would create an endowment to give at least $300 million annually to rural counties in 40 states for schools, roads, law enforcement and other essential services. Similar legislation introduced last year died in the Senate Judiciary Committee without a hearing.