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 Commission Sets 2017-18 Waterfowl Hunting Seasons; Elects New Officers

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established the 2017-18 waterfowl and other migratory bird hunting seasons at its February meeting. The TFWC also elected its new officers for the coming year. The actions occurred at the TFWC’s two-day meeting which concluded Friday afternoon at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Region II Ray Bell Building. The TFWC approved ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke, Councilman Anderson, And Community Kick Off Construction Of New Park On Long-Vacant Site In Middle Of Alton Park

Alton Park community leaders on Thursday afternoon joined Mayor Andy Berke, Councilman Chris Anderson, and other city and county officials to break ground at the former Charles A. Bell Elementary School site, kicking off construction that will turn a long-vacant site into a vibrant park and gathering place for the neighborhood. “Parks impact quality of life in a number of ... (click for more)

Boyd Says He Is Not On Witch Hunt Against CVB, But Intends To Seek Full Audit Of Agency; Graham Backs Visitors Bureau 100%

County Commission Finance Chairman Tim Boyd has told Chattanooga Visitors Bureau President Bob Doak that he is "not on a witch hunt" against the CVB, but he said he intends to seek a full audit of the agency. He said he was inspired to "take an even closer look" at the Visitors Bureau after he said Mr. Doak "unleashing a fire storm of emails condemning my accusations." ... (click for more)

Man, Child Killed In Crash On Highway 136 In Walker County; 2nd Child Who Was Seriously Injured Dies On Monday

A man and an unrestrained five-year-old child were killed when a vehicle went out of control on Highway 136 in Walker County on Saturday. A 10-year-old in the car was seriously injured, and later died on Monday. The driver was thrown from the van and was dead at the scene. The five-year-old was trapped in the vehicle and also died at the wreck site at Ponder Creek Road. ... (click for more)

Judge Doug Meyer Lived A Full Life Helping Many

I was sadden to learn of the death of Judge Doug Meyer.  Judge Meyer retired from the Criminal Court bench here in 2006.  Prior to that he had been the Chattanooga city judge for several years.  As a young attorney I tried many cases in front of Judge Meyer.  Also while I was awaiting my case to be tried, I would observe him on the bench.  Judge Meyer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Blackburn Good As Gone

I didn’t know until I read John Adams’ column in the Knoxville News-Sentinel that one person who doesn't personally know UTC Athletic Director David Blackburn said he heard he has a drinking problem. I also didn’t know that “the best thing to ever happen to UTC athletics” had health problems, according to a second person who does not personally know him. It is also being said David ... (click for more)