Gosar, McSally, Sinema introduce bills to let La Paz County buy back BLM land
Congressman Paul Gosar reintroduced legislation to allow La Paz County to buy land held by the Bureau of Land Management. Arizona Senators Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema, meanwhile, have introduced a similar bill in the Senate.
The House bill, called the La Paz County Land Exchange Act of 2019, will allow the county to buy BLM land in the southeastern part of the county for economic development, most notably development of solar electrical power production.
The Senate bill is the first legislation introduced by McSally since she was sworn in last week. Sinema is a co-sponsor on the bill.
Melissa Brown, Gosar’s press secretary, said in a news release the bill would help ease a land transfer from the BLM to La Paz County, directing the Secretary of the Interior to hand over 5,935 acres of federal land for La Paz County to use for economic development and renewable electricity generation.
The bill requires the county to pay fair-market value for the land involved in this transfer.
In a letter to fellow members of Congress, Gosar said the bill was necessary for economic development in La Paz County, where only 5 percent of the land is in private hands, and over 60 percent is held by the BLM.
“The plot of land the county has identified, with the assistance of the BLM, is ideally situated on the edge of the La Paz/Maricopa County line adjacent to existing and proposed fiber optic, electric and natural gas transmission lines,” Gosar said. “Further, the transferred parcels are conveniently located next to the ‘Ten West Link,’ a 114-mile transmission line that will further interconnect Arizona and California.”
This bill is similar to one introduced by Gosar in the last Congress. Brown said that bill passed the full House and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It was supposed to be included in a bipartisan end of Congress lands package that failed to materialize, and, as a result, the bill died at the end of the last Congress.
“We reintroduced the bill on the House side and have much more support this Congress with six bipartisan co-sponsors as opposed to three,” Brown said in an e-mail to the Pioneer. “Sen McSally introduced on the Senate side and Sinema co-sponsored. The Senate bill was not bipartisan last Congress and had no cosponsors.”