Tennessee, Arizona Senators Introduce Legislation To Reimburse States For Reopening National Parks During Federal Government Shutdown

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker along with Senators Jeff Flake (R-Az.), John McCain (R-Az.) and a bipartisan group of senators, introduced legislation today to reimburse states for funds used to reopen national parks while the federal government was shut down last October.

“The Smokies closing was like a BP oil spill for the Gulf, especially for places like Sevier and Blount counties, where the success of many small businesses relies on our country’s most-visited national park,” Senator Alexander said. “This national treasure shouldn’t have been forced to close in the first place, and Tennessee taxpayers certainly shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for having it reopened.”

“I feel fortunate to have grown up in East Tennessee with the Smokies in my backyard and know all Tennesseans take great pride in the fact that millions of people visit our state every year to experience our tremendous God-given outdoors,” Senator Corker said. “This bill ensures the state of Tennessee will be made whole after it had to foot the bill to keep the national park open during last fall’s irresponsible government shutdown, and I thank Governor Haslam and Senator Alexander for their leadership on this issue.”

During the shutdown of the federal government this past fall, Senators Alexander and Corker worked with Gov. Haslam, local county mayors and other members of the Tennessee congressional delegation to facilitate the reopening of the park. On Oct. 15, 2013, Senator Alexander introduced his own legislation to reimburse states for all state funds used to reopen national parks while the government was shutdown.

The National Park Access Act would repay six states that used approximately $2 million state dollars to reopen national parks, of which Tennessee paid $60,100 to reopen Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The shutdown ended when Congress enacted the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, which included retroactive funding for the National Park Service that covered park operations for days that had already been paid for by states. The National Park Service ended up with approximately $2 million in excess funds for the year because of the days of park operations that states paid for during the shutdown. The Department of the Interior has recognized this excess of funds, but has indicated it needs congressional authorization to return the money to states.

According to the most recent National Park Service economics report, 9,685,829 visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park spent $741 million in communities near the park in 2012, supporting 10,959 jobs in those areas.

The legislation authored by Senator Jeff Flake (R-Az.) is also cosponsored by Senators Bennet (D-Co.), Hatch (R-Ut.), Lee (R-Ut.) and Udall (D–Co.).


TFWC Updated On Chronic Wasting Disease, Boating Statistics, Endangered Species, And Budget Process

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission heard updates on chronic wasting disease (CWD), Tennessee’s In Need of Management, Threatened, and Endangered Wildlife Listing, boating statistics, and budget process during its July meeting. The two-day session concluded Friday and was held at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Region II Ray Bell Building. Chuck Yoest, assistant ... (click for more)

Bike Chattanooga Celebrates 5 Years Of Bike Share

The City of Chattanooga’s Bike Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System invites the public to help celebrate its fifth year of operations in the Scenic City with a celebratory bike ride next Wednesday starting at 5:30 p.m. from the Wheland Foundry Riverpark Trailhead to their 6-7 p.m celebration at the Blue Goose Hollow Riverpark Trailhead.   "The community is invited to join ... (click for more)

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson Booked At County Jail; Says He Is Not Guilty

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson was booked at the Bradley County Jail Friday morning. He faces six separate charges of altering/falsifying/forging a title plate assignment. Sheriff Watson, a former state legislator, posted a $30,000 bond. He issued this statement, "For more than a year, I have confronted numerous accusations from some who desire to have more control ... (click for more)

County School Board Members, Rep. Favors Rap State Take-Over Plans For Low Performing Schools; New Superintendent To Come Up With Community Plan

County School Board members at a Thursday work session took turns rapping a state take-over plan for low performing schools. New Supt. Bryan Johnson said he will work over the next 30-45 days to come up with a community proposal for strengthening the iZone schools. He said, "I'm not sold myself" on some of the aspects of a proposed state partnership with the school district. ... (click for more)

Do Something To Protect Our Children

It is unconscionable in this day and age that these children had to exist in such deplorable conditions and that an innocent baby suffered and died alone in a locked car.  Yes, there is blame and accountability considering this family had child neglect charges filed a few years ago (that were apparently dropped and expunged) and a large part of the responsibility should ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Every week I get emails full of inspiration and funny stories. This summer I have gathered a sampling of my weekly harvest and presented the collection as a reminder we ought to cherish laughter with those we love and the weekend. I am not only amazed how popular my ‘Summer Saturdays’ have become but this week I have gotten funnies from California, Texas and Arizona, to mention ... (click for more)