Alexander: House Passage Of Senate Legislation To Stop Corps’ Unreasonable Fishing Restrictions “Ends The Discussion”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) on Tuesday announced that the U.S. House of Representatives passed his Senate legislation which includes an immediate two-year ban to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from restricting fishing below dams on the Cumberland River. The president has 10 days from the day he receives the legislation to act upon it, before it becomes law.

“When the president signs this legislation, this will end the discussion,” Senator Alexander said. “Both chambers of the United States Congress have now told the Corps to immediately abandon its unreasonable efforts to restrict fishing and work with state agencies on a sensible policy to address safety concerns, instead of wasting taxpayer dollars and ignoring elected officials who are standing up for fishermen.”

The legislation that passed the House on Tuesday – and received unanimous Senate support on May 16 – would stop the Corps from enacting any existing or new fishing restrictions for the next two years, while also delegating enforcement to state wildlife agencies.

The Senate has also passed Senator Alexander’s permanent solution to stop the Corps as part of the Water Resources Development Act on May 15, as opposed to just a two-year ban. That legislation would delegate enforcement to state wildlife agencies, and require the Corps to stop taking any further action until it has re-evaluated its plans. The House has not yet taken up its version of the Water Resources Development Act, which Senator Alexander said made it necessary to pass a two-year ban in the meantime.

The Corps has proceeded with its fishing restrictions despite the Senate’s unanimous support for an amendment to the budget resolution in March that would allow Congress to prohibit the Corps’ plans, as well as repeated requests for compromise from Senator Alexander, numerous other elected officials and the state agencies that enforce boater safety requirements. Senator Alexander has said the Corps should look for better ways to keep fishermen safe when water is actually spilling through the dams, which is about 20 percent of the time on average.

A similar version of the Senate legislation that the House passed today was sponsored by U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tn.), Diane Black (R-Tn.), Stephen Fincher (R-Tn.), Jim Cooper (D-Tn.) and Andy Barr (R-Ky.). Senator Alexander’s legislation originated from his “Freedom to Fish Act,” which is cosponsored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senators Bob Corker (R-Tn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Rep. Whitfield has also sponsored a companion to that legislation in the House.

Senator Alexander said on May 8 he would restrict Corps funding, in his role as the Ranking Member or lead Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, if the Corps did not abandon its plans. Senator Alexander has also held numerous meetings with Corps officials in Washington and Tennessee, encouraging them to find a compromise.

Former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry Martin, an appointee of President Obama who until stepping down recently would have been responsible for defending the Corps in court, has said the Corps’ restrictions are unreasonable “in light of the tremendous protection from liability enjoyed by the Corps.” The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has also said it will not enforce the Corps’ restrictions.


Dr. Anna George Recognized As 2015 Outstanding Fisheries Scientist

Dr. Anna George, director of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, (TNACI) was recognized as the 2015 Outstanding Fisheries Scientist by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (TNAFS). This award is presented each year to a current member of TNAFS who has exhibited exceptional contributions to the fisheries community in Tennessee and the Southeast. ... (click for more)

Fishing Report From The TWRA

Here is the fishing report from the TWRA: Center Hill Reservoir : Due to weather conditions, there is no report this week. Chickamauga : A few anglers ventured out on Sunday. Most sloughs were covered in ice. Cold weather prevented anglers from going to the lake for the most part during the past week. A lot of fishing shows were watched. Dale Hollow Reservoir ... (click for more)

Signal Council, Residents Concerned About Unsafe Driving En Route To Schools

The town council of Signal Mountain is dealing with a traffic problem caused by increased traffic to and from Signal Mountain Middle High School and Nolan Elementary. Mayor Dick Gee said, “This is a tough issue that we wouldn’t have to deal with if everyone would drive responsibly.” The main concern is for safety and in November the council agreed to try to fix the problem by ... (click for more)

88-Year-Old Woman In Bradley County Severely Burned After Going Back In Burning House For Pets

Two people were injured in a house fire in Bradley County on Friday.   Shortly before noon, Bradley County EMS responded to a reported house fire on Hancock Road.   Two ambulances and a shift commander responded. Initial reports were that there were two people injured. When EMS crews arrived, Bradley County firefighters were performing resuscitative ... (click for more)

We Ought To Pay Our Own Way

The government is too big. It has never been bigger - by any measure. It spends more money than any other single actor in our society. From Blue Rhinos to providing telecommunications services, our government knows no bounds. We’ve gone from a free enterprise system to a public enterprise system.  I'm not an artist. I'm not terribly tech savvy. The part of government that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Secret Train Ride

It was during Christmas of 2003 when Bennett Levin and his wife found themselves talking and worrying about the wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Military Hospital in Bethesda, Md., and at the nearby Bethesda Naval Hospital. Their wish was that they could do something meaningful, something really grand, for the soldiers who had lost limbs, their eyesight, and far worse. As ... (click for more)