NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb 8, 2016) – A resolution recently passed by the Tennessee legislature and signed by Gov. Bill Haslam calls on the feds to give back the land in the Western part of the country back to the states.

Introduced by state Rep. Andy Holt, House Joint Resolution 92 (HJR92) “expresses support for the federal transfer of public lands to the western states and urges Congress to coordinate the transfer of title to the western states.”

It passed the House last year by a vote of 64-25. In January, the Senate passed it 26-2. And Gov. Haslam signed it on Jan. 26, 2016.

The resolution reads, in part:

The Constitution contains no expression of intent to authorize the federal government to indefinitely exercise control over western public lands beyond the duty to manage the lands pending the disposal of the lands to create new states, and therefore the lands should be returned to the western states….limiting the ability of western states to access and utilize the public lands’ natural resources within their borders is having a negative impact upon the economy of those western states and therefore the economy of the entire United States.

Along with calling on other states to pressure the feds to give up the land they control in their jurisdictions, the bill also states that “if any public land in the western states is sold to private owners, 95% of the net proceeds be paid to the Bureau of the Public Debt to pay down the federal debt.”

Although non-binding, the resolution allows Tennessee to voice its desire for the federal government to relinquish its vast ownership of land in the western part of the nation. Today, the federal government assumes the power to own and regulate about 1 million square miles of land within the United States. Giving this land back to the states, especially those where the feds ownership comprises most of the state itself, would not only return control back to the states but it would also end the contentious feuds recently seen between ranchers and federal agencies that have already resulted in bloodshed.

While this resolution is non-binding, this is exactly what John Dickinson, the “Penman of the American Revolution” recommended states to pass. We must remember that small things grow by great concord.

TJ Martinell

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