What: All Issues : Human Rights & Civil Liberties : Individual Rights : S 2739. (Omnibus public lands bill) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would prohibit entry onto private land by National Park Service employees or others coordinating a National Heritage Area unless they had written consent/On agreeing to the amendment (2008 senate Roll Call 99)
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S 2739. (Omnibus public lands bill) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would prohibit entry onto private land by National Park Service employees or others coordinating a National Heritage Area unless they had written consent/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 99     Apr 10, 2008
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would prohibit National Park Service employees or those affiliated with a National Heritage Area from entering into private land located in a National Heritage Area without written consent.  The amendment was offered to a bill that consolidates some 60 different federal lands measures, dealing with national parks issues to boundary adjustments on federal land, including one that would create or expand certain geographic regions as National Heritage Areas.  This designation would allow local governments or nonprofit organizations to coordinate historical and cultural activities in those areas, with the assistance of the National Park Service.

Coburn said at present, there is no requirement that the federal government notify private property owners when their land is to be included in a National Heritage Area. 

“If I am in a heritage area, what happens often now is those who are empowered by the heritage area stake and survey your land, do all these things without your permission to enter your land—your land, not their land, your land. What we do is we broadly give the ability to violate property rights through the heritage area laws so people can access private property without permission,” Coburn said.  “Do we not have the right and the obligation to ensure their property rights are protected as they are brought into a national heritage area?”

Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said Coburn was confused about what the National Heritage Area designation means.  He said the designation does not involve the acquisition of land or otherwise impact property rights.  He said many communities want the designation in order to improve tourism.


“The prohibition against employees of the National Park Service or coordinating entity from being able to enter private property without written permission of the landowner does not make sense, in my opinion,” Bingaman said.  “Under this language, a member of the Park Service or the coordinating entity would not be able to go to a mall or a restaurant or go to any other private property in northern New Mexico in a three-county area without written consent of the landowner.”


By a vote of 27-67, the amendment was rejected.  Every Democrat present voted against the amendment.  Of Republicans present, 27 voted for it and 18 voted against it.  The end result is that the bill went forward without language that would have required National Park Service employees and those involved with National Heritage Areas to obtain landowners’ written consent before entering onto their property.

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