Bill Requiring Legislative Approval of Land Purchases Defeated
By Jackelyn Severin
A legislative committee has defeated two bills requiring the Department of Game, Fish, and Parks to receive legislative approval before purchasing land.
Game, Fish and Parks does not use state general funds to purchase land rather the money comes from camping fees, hunting licenses and federal funds. However, sponsors House Bills 1068 and 1086 say these are still public funds. Representative Betty Olson of Prairie City says Game, Fish and Parks is buying land for the public and should have to explain why and how they want to use it.
Olson says, "Its dealing with the people’s money and the legislative rights to control what we do with the peoples money. This is gaining control over a state agency by the legislature."
Opponents say both bills infringe on private landowners rights to sell their property to whomever they choose. Secretary of Game, Fish and Parks, Jeff Vonk, says all purchases made by the department are open to the public. He says the department does receive legislative oversight from the appropriations committee which must approve its budget.
Lawmakers defeated both bills by a wide majority.
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