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.).


New Study Says Water Vapor Is Global Warming Amplifier

A new study from scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and colleagues says rising levels of water vapor in the upper troposphere – a key amplifier of global warming – will intensify climate change impacts over the next decades. The new study is the first to show that increased water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere are a ... (click for more)

Tellico Wild: A Weekend Of Wilderness In The Cherokee National Forest

Tennessee Wild is hosting a weekend of free outdoor activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act of 1964, and to support protecting special forest places while promoting the Tellico Region and Cherokee National Forest as the ideal destination for outdoor recreation in the southeast.   Come learn more about a key effort to protect special places in ... (click for more)

County Commission Chairmanship Up For Grabs After Exit Of Henry, Skillern

The chairmanship of the County Commission is up for grabs after the exit of two commissioners who have held the post in recent years. Larry Henry is moving on to serve as Circuit Court clerk. Fred Skillern was upset by Randy Fairbanks in the Republican primary. Most of the returning commissioners have their eye on the possibility of taking over as chairman, or at least getting ... (click for more)

KFC Manager Arrested After Staging Fake Robbery

Police were called Sunday night after a manager of the KFC on 3rd Street staged a fake robbery in order to take money. Fellen Hayes, 24, was arrested after police say she conspired with a man named "Ira" to make her theft look like a robbery. These events occurred shortly after noon.  She initially called police saying that a tall black male had approached her and taken ... (click for more)

Curtis Adams: Beck, Mackey Should Be Considered For County Commission Leadership

Just think about this;  a person highly qualified applying for a job.  As he is just about finished filling out his papers for his interview, he sees at the bottom there is a place for him to check Democrat or Republican.  He would think, “if I mark the wrong one I may not get the job.” Being a real leader requires honesty, integrity, and, most importantly, fairness. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mark’s 50th Anniversary Toast

In the new book that celebrates the first 50 years of baseball’s Southern League, its splendid author Mark McCarter recalls that very early in his career as a sports writer, he was riding with his boss somewhere and mentioned that if the legendary Allan Morris ever needed help covering the Chattanooga Lookouts that he’d love to help. Today, as he looks back, he ruefully adds, “I ... (click for more)