HELENA – Here are comments from other candidates for the U.S. House on a proposal by Republican Matt Rosendale to transfer certain federal lands to the state:
State Sen. Elsie Arntzen, a Republican from Billings: “I would like to see Montana be in much more control, yes. But I think you need to have a more detailed, in-depth plan on how you’re going to work with counties on PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes). Federal lands are not being taken care to the best extent possible.” Montana local governments last year received $26.5 million in PILT payments from the federal government to compensate counties for lost property tax revenue from the lands.
Former Public Service Commissioner John Driscoll, a Democrat from Helena: “People better take that proposal seriously. I’m not for it. If I had anything to say about it, we better get our act together.” He said Montanans need to organize to preserve what they have.
John Lewis, a Democrat from Helena: “The devil is in the details, but in general, transferring all federal lands to the states is not a realistic or responsible solution that would not guarantee that Montanans have a greater say in the land use designations that affect them and their businesses.” Lewis said he fears such a transfer could raise taxes on Montanans when the state takes over the job fighting wildfires and managing roads, bridges, tails and campsites and the financial obligations.
Former state Sen. Corey Stapleton, a Republican from Billings: “Yes, I would support the looking at how you would do it. I don’t know how you would be able to do it. I support the idea. The feds haven’t proved to be good stewards at all. …I think Montanans could solve it better than the blowhards in Washington, D.C.”
Drew Turiano, a Republican from Helena: “I support that. I think the federal government owns a lot of land. It should be our prerogative to do what we want.” He said if the state wants to drill for oil, manage the forests or mine the federal lands, it should be the state’s prerogative, he said.
Former state Sen. Ryan Zinke, a Republican from Whitefish: “I think his plan is not well thought out. At the end of the day, I think you have to do a cost-benefit analysis and be very careful. I do believe that Montana can manage its land probably better. Montana does get a buck forty back from the federal government. You have to remember there is a liability, too. ... So you’re saying we’re going to get in and say America can’t manage its land anymore. I fundamentally disagree. We need to put the (federal) bureaucracy and overreach back in the box.”