ELKO – A land grab bill backed by embattled rancher Cliven Bundy is failing to garner support from local officials.
Assembly Bill 408, sponsored by Republican Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore, states that except in special cases, the federal government “shall not own rights to use land or water” and the state would take over management of most public land in Nevada.
Bundy and his supporters plan to attend a hearing next week in Carson City when the bill will go before committee, according to the Associated Press.
But Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, despite signing on initially as a co-sponsor, said he could no longer support it after a more thorough review.
“That’s a bad bill,” he said.
Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, agreed.
“The intent is fine but the language in the bill is horrible,” he said, adding that he thought it would be harmful to the ranching industry.
The bill specifies that the State Land Registrar would sell grazing permits and require county commissions to tax profits from resource use.
Elko County Commissioner Demar Dahl said AB 408 takes the opposite approach of Senate Joint Resolution 1, a measure he’s backed, which asks Congress to transfer an initial 7.2 million acres to the state and opens up more land transfers in subsequent phases.
When SJR 1 went before a committee earlier this session, it received significant opposition from conservationists, sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts who worried it would lead to land closures.
Dahl insists that all rights would transfer with ownership, however.
During a roundup of Bundy’s cattle on federal land last spring, militia members rallied to support the ranchers against armed federal rangers.
Fearing that the standoff would turn violent, the BLM released the cattle.