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house Bill H.R. 1957

Should Revenue From Energy Developed on Other Public Lands Be Used to Address the $12B Maintenance Backlog at the National Park Service & Other Public Land Agencies?

Argument in favor

Between them, the National Park Service, Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, & Bureau of Indian Education manage many of America’s most important public lands. This bipartisan bill would use revenue from energy development on other lands to fund a $12 billion backlog of much-needed restoration and maintenance projects on the lands these agencies manage, which will benefit many Americans for years to come.

Linda's Opinion
···
04/09/2019
Good. Maybe now the IRS will be able to see through #45’s lifetime of tax evasion.
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James's Opinion
···
04/09/2019
The tax payer is the boss. Politicians are the employees. Fire all lobbyists. Vote out all the politicians who support a tyrant for president. Keep them honest, get Bureaucratic red tape out of politics. The money flowing through each of these parties can be better used to serve the people.
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Hillary's Opinion
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04/09/2019
I’ve just read some more about this. It appears that the IRS has a free program to electronically file one’s taxes. This bill, while containing many great things, would essentially sign a “no compete” clause with companies like the one that owns Turbo Tax thus giving those for profit companies a giant boost. They have a proviso that certain income levels would be allowed to file for free but that group is bound to get screwed over by these big businesses.
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Argument opposed

Using tax revenue from energy developed on other federal lands to fund maintenance at national parks and federally-held public lands frequented by the public would make it harder for the U.S. to stop using fossil fuels. Instead, Congress should spend more money on public land maintenance and relevant agencies should raise their fees for consumers.

burrkitty's Opinion
···
04/09/2019
Edit2: I hate it when they do this thing where they take a old bill and swap out all the content. JUST WRITE A NEW BILL FFS. okay. As for energy leasing on national parks. NO!! This bill guarantees the prostitution of our public lands to energy companies! Absolutely Not! Allot the money for maintenance properly in the federal budget! Our public lands ARE NOT FOR SALE! Edit: having researched this bill some more, I have changed my mind. This bill bans the development of FreeFile and enshrines the tax preparation industry as the holders of all electronic tax filing code. I heartily disapprove of that. This bill is pushing the burden of tax paperwork off onto private companies. Tax collection shouldn’t be privatized. That path is rife with abuse as plenty of history has shown. Whether I pay more or less in taxes aside, I WANT A EASIER TAX PROCESS! I don’t know why we “the citizens” have to file anything anymore anyway. The government already gets all the information. Why do we still do it? The IRS has pretty much all of the information they need to fill out our tax return, so why don’t they just send us a partly or fully completed return for our review? I want something like the return free filing system they have in Spain. I mean, we already don’t do our property taxes ourselves? So why income? You’d figure typical deficit-hawk conservatives would be happy to save the money the IRS wastes every year confronting the American taxpayer’s inability to subtract correctly. And in fact Ronald Reagan himself endorsed return-free filing in 1985. The likely reason for the resistance is that the proposed set-up would make tax “simplification” —lopping off upper tax brackets, mainly—a much harder sell. If you’re trying to paint U.S. taxation as hopelessly burdensome, the last thing you want to see is the IRS transformed into an agency that just mails Americans a refund check automatically every year. Meanwhile, special-interest groups are in the trenches trying to shoot down return-free pilot plans. In 2005, California adopted a program called ReadyReturn, which allows qualified residents to opt for a pre-completed tax return rather than fill out their own. The state estimates that the new process has saved millions a year in prep fees and about a half a mil in government administrative costs, and taxpayers who’ve used the service are overwhelmingly pleased. Thing is, not many Californians take advantage of it—in 2012, only 90,000 out of the approximately one million eligible—and officials complain they've had a hard time getting the word out. That’s because software manufacturer Intuit, the maker of the prep app TurboTax, wants it that way: according to a 2013 investigation by the nonprofit journalism outfit ProPublica, the company spent more than $3 million in lobbying and campaign contributions between 2005 and 2009 fighting ReadyReturn. Intuit didn’t manage to kill the program outright, but the state’s budget for marketing it was cut to a dinky $10,000. Perhaps wary of incurring the deep-pocketed wrath of Big Tax-Prep and its pseudo-“small-government” allies, other states have seemingly been in no big hurry to follow California’s example. But the dream remains alive in D.C.—last April, Elizabeth Warren became the latest senator to propose (doomed) legislation introducing return-free filing. Somehow, I don’t see a lot of progress on this front any time soon. Being evidently opposed to paying any taxes at all, our president seems unlikely to expend much effort on making it simpler to do.
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jimK's Opinion
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06/10/2020
I truly like the idea of maintaining our national parks. It is sad that our government has let national park maintenance get so backlogged. I do not, however, believe that it is proper to use fees from energy production based within our national parks or even other public lands directly for this purpose. This arrangement effectively makes park maintenance funds dependent upon subletting our treasured parks and public lands to those who would exploit them. I would prefer the complete banning of the use of our national parks for any mining, mineral extraction or any other corruption of park ecospheres for any corporate enterprise. Any fees from production on other public lands can augment the treasury as they already do and maintenance of public parks should be funded directly from the treasury as part of our country’s obligation to maintain public properties. These funds should never be directly linked - this only makes park maintenance dependent upon continued exploitation of public lands and this should never be.
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Boris's Opinion
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04/09/2019
Congress Is About to Ban the Government From Offering Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax. https://www.propublica.org/article/congress-is-about-to-ban-the-government-from-offering-free-online-tax-filing-thank-turbotax#160011
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What is House Bill H.R. 1957?

(UPDATE - 6/6/20): This bill has been amended from its original form to serve as the legislative vehicle for a bipartisan bill that would use funds generated from energy development on federal lands & waters to address the nearly $12 billion backlog of deferred maintenance projects at National Parks and on other public lands. In its original form, the bill was known as the Taxpayers First Act, which was subsequently enacted as a separate standalone bill. The current bill, known as the Great American Outdoors Act, would establish a National Parks & Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to support deferred maintenance projects on federal lands, and make funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund permanent. A breakdown of the bill’s current provisions can be found below.

For fiscal years 2021-2025, the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund would receive an amount equal to 50% of all federal revenues from the development of oil, gas, coal, or alternative & renewable energy on federal lands & waters. Deposited amounts wouldn’t be allowed to exceed $1.9 billion for any fiscal year. Deposited funds would be used for priority deferred maintenance projects in the public lands systems specified below, and funds would be distributed in the corresponding proportions listed below:

  • National Park Service - 70% of funds;

  • Forest Service - 15% of funds;

  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - 5% of funds;

  • Bureau of Land Management - 5% of funds; and

  • Bureau of Indian Education - 5% of funds.

Funds in the National Parks & Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund couldn’t be used for land acquisition; to supplant discretionary funding made available for annually recurring facility operations, maintenance, and construction needs; or for bonuses for employees of the federal government carrying out this section. 

The Secretary of the Interior & Secretary of Agriculture (who oversees the Forest Service) would submit a list of priority projects to Congress within 90 days of the bill’s enactment, and each year thereafter which lists each project, describes it, and estimates spending on it for a given fiscal year. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would be required to produce a report on the effectiveness of the fund in reducing the backlog of priority deferred maintenance projects for the specified agencies.

This bill would also allow public cash or in-kind donations to the Fund, which may be used to reduce the NPS maintenance backlog or to encourage relevant public-private partnerships.

Additionally, this bill would make funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) permanent. The president would be required to provide Congress with an annual report with details regarding the allocation of funds to the LWCF. Congress would be able to provide for alternate allocations using specified procedures.

Impact

Visitors to public parks; National Park Service; energy development revenues; Dept. of the Interior; and the Treasury Dept.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1957

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced this bipartisan bill to address the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog within the National Park Service and other public land management agencies and permanently reauthorize the Land & Water Conservation Fund:

“The [Land & Water Conservation Fund] supports projects in Colorado and all across our country at no cost to the taxpayer, and fighting every year to figure out how much money the program will receive doesn’t provide the long-term planning certainty that our outdoor and conservation community deserves. Last year we were successful in permanently reauthorizing the LWCF, the crown jewel of conservation programs, and I have been fighting ever since to make funding permanent. Senator Daines and I secured the President’s support and a path for full and permanent LWCF funding to become law and address the deferred maintenance backlog that the park system is currently facing. Congress has a historic opportunity to ensure the public lands we all own will receive the funding they deserve by passing the Great American Outdoors Act.”

This bill’s lead Democratic cosponsor, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), added:

“I started working to secure permanent funding the day after we passed permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund last year. I am excited to see there is such broad bipartisan support to secure full, permanent funding for LWCF and address the maintenance backlog across all of our national parks and treasured public lands. Every state and territory and nearly every county in our country has benefited from LWCF funding. Today I am proud to be the lead Democrat introducing the Great American Outdoors Act. This is an historic achievement for conservation and a testament to the strong, bipartisan work that is still possible when we put politics aside to do what is best for our country.”

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), another original cosponsor of the bill, added:

“As Montana’s voice in the U.S. Senate, I’ve made it one of my top priorities to protect and expand access to our public lands and our Montana outdoor way of life. This historic bipartisan effort will fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and address the maintenance backlog in our national parks and forests.”

This bill has the support of 59 bipartisan cosponsors, including 42 Democrats, 15 Republicans, and two Independents in the Senate. Additionally, this bill has been endorsed by more than 800 conservation groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Of Note: The NPS manages over 400 national park units, including iconic landscapes, historic and cultural sites, trails, military battlegrounds, monuments, and memorials. In its 2017 Annual Summary Report, the NPS reported 331 million recreational visits to its parks, $18.2 billion spending in local gateway communities (towns and cities that are buoyed by close proximity to the national parks), $35.8 billion in national economic output attributable to parks and 306,000 jobs supported by visitor spending at NPS sites.

Due to aging facilities, strain on resources caused by increased visitation at many park units, and inconsistent annual funding, NPS has been unable to keep pace with needed park repairs. Based on 2018 data, the agency estimates that it’d cost $11.92 billion to address its maintenance backlog.

The idea of using oil money for parks has been around for decades in the form of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was created in 1964. Since at least early 2017, then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and lawmakers in both parties have advocated for a new fund for the NPS maintenance backlog, paid for with energy money.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / stockstudioX)

AKA

Great American Outdoors Act

Official Title

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modernize and improve the Internal Revenue Service, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate Passed June 17th, 2020
    Roll Call Vote 73 Yea / 25 Nay
  • The house Passed July 22nd, 2020
    Roll Call Vote 310 Yea / 107 Nay
    IntroducedMarch 28th, 2019

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    Good. Maybe now the IRS will be able to see through #45’s lifetime of tax evasion.
    Like (114)
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    Edit2: I hate it when they do this thing where they take a old bill and swap out all the content. JUST WRITE A NEW BILL FFS. okay. As for energy leasing on national parks. NO!! This bill guarantees the prostitution of our public lands to energy companies! Absolutely Not! Allot the money for maintenance properly in the federal budget! Our public lands ARE NOT FOR SALE! Edit: having researched this bill some more, I have changed my mind. This bill bans the development of FreeFile and enshrines the tax preparation industry as the holders of all electronic tax filing code. I heartily disapprove of that. This bill is pushing the burden of tax paperwork off onto private companies. Tax collection shouldn’t be privatized. That path is rife with abuse as plenty of history has shown. Whether I pay more or less in taxes aside, I WANT A EASIER TAX PROCESS! I don’t know why we “the citizens” have to file anything anymore anyway. The government already gets all the information. Why do we still do it? The IRS has pretty much all of the information they need to fill out our tax return, so why don’t they just send us a partly or fully completed return for our review? I want something like the return free filing system they have in Spain. I mean, we already don’t do our property taxes ourselves? So why income? You’d figure typical deficit-hawk conservatives would be happy to save the money the IRS wastes every year confronting the American taxpayer’s inability to subtract correctly. And in fact Ronald Reagan himself endorsed return-free filing in 1985. The likely reason for the resistance is that the proposed set-up would make tax “simplification” —lopping off upper tax brackets, mainly—a much harder sell. If you’re trying to paint U.S. taxation as hopelessly burdensome, the last thing you want to see is the IRS transformed into an agency that just mails Americans a refund check automatically every year. Meanwhile, special-interest groups are in the trenches trying to shoot down return-free pilot plans. In 2005, California adopted a program called ReadyReturn, which allows qualified residents to opt for a pre-completed tax return rather than fill out their own. The state estimates that the new process has saved millions a year in prep fees and about a half a mil in government administrative costs, and taxpayers who’ve used the service are overwhelmingly pleased. Thing is, not many Californians take advantage of it—in 2012, only 90,000 out of the approximately one million eligible—and officials complain they've had a hard time getting the word out. That’s because software manufacturer Intuit, the maker of the prep app TurboTax, wants it that way: according to a 2013 investigation by the nonprofit journalism outfit ProPublica, the company spent more than $3 million in lobbying and campaign contributions between 2005 and 2009 fighting ReadyReturn. Intuit didn’t manage to kill the program outright, but the state’s budget for marketing it was cut to a dinky $10,000. Perhaps wary of incurring the deep-pocketed wrath of Big Tax-Prep and its pseudo-“small-government” allies, other states have seemingly been in no big hurry to follow California’s example. But the dream remains alive in D.C.—last April, Elizabeth Warren became the latest senator to propose (doomed) legislation introducing return-free filing. Somehow, I don’t see a lot of progress on this front any time soon. Being evidently opposed to paying any taxes at all, our president seems unlikely to expend much effort on making it simpler to do.
    Like (212)
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    I truly like the idea of maintaining our national parks. It is sad that our government has let national park maintenance get so backlogged. I do not, however, believe that it is proper to use fees from energy production based within our national parks or even other public lands directly for this purpose. This arrangement effectively makes park maintenance funds dependent upon subletting our treasured parks and public lands to those who would exploit them. I would prefer the complete banning of the use of our national parks for any mining, mineral extraction or any other corruption of park ecospheres for any corporate enterprise. Any fees from production on other public lands can augment the treasury as they already do and maintenance of public parks should be funded directly from the treasury as part of our country’s obligation to maintain public properties. These funds should never be directly linked - this only makes park maintenance dependent upon continued exploitation of public lands and this should never be.
    Like (167)
    Follow
    Share
    The tax payer is the boss. Politicians are the employees. Fire all lobbyists. Vote out all the politicians who support a tyrant for president. Keep them honest, get Bureaucratic red tape out of politics. The money flowing through each of these parties can be better used to serve the people.
    Like (59)
    Follow
    Share
    Congress Is About to Ban the Government From Offering Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax. https://www.propublica.org/article/congress-is-about-to-ban-the-government-from-offering-free-online-tax-filing-thank-turbotax#160011
    Like (55)
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    I’ve just read some more about this. It appears that the IRS has a free program to electronically file one’s taxes. This bill, while containing many great things, would essentially sign a “no compete” clause with companies like the one that owns Turbo Tax thus giving those for profit companies a giant boost. They have a proviso that certain income levels would be allowed to file for free but that group is bound to get screwed over by these big businesses.
    Like (39)
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    This bill prohibits the IRS from implementing its own free e-file system, leaving in place the free options from tax preparation companies such as Intuit’s TurboTax. However, these companies use misleading language throughout the process to try to convince the tax filer that they need to pay for the upgraded versions. Making this situation the only possibility is a terrible idea.
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    While I don’t agree with energy development on public land when it’s fracking (solar or wind should be preferred), any revenues should be used for the maintenance of public lands. This is much lower priority than: 1) Covid-19 HEROES legislation 2) Vote by mail due to Covid-19 3) Law Enforcement Reform & protests 4) Infrastructure renovation
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    Getting funds to PRESERVE land by RAPING it in another 'preserve"?....That makes NO sense. We ultimately need to protect and preserve all our land, water and air....Oil and coal production and usage is "of the past" and we need to change to renewable and clean energies for the good of ALL lands.
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    Conservatives claim the wealthy are overtaxed. But the overall share of taxes paid by the top 1% and the top 5% is about their share of total income. This shows that the tax system is not progressive when it comes to the wealthy. The richest 1% pay an effective federal income tax rate of 24.7%. That is a little more than the 19.3% rate paid by someone making an average of $75,000. And 1 out of 5 millionaires pays a lower rate than someone making $50,000 to $100,000. Conservatives claim that the estate tax is a “death tax,” wrongly implying that the tax is paid when every American dies. In fact, the tax primarily is paid by estates of multi-millionaires and billionaires. The vast majority of deaths — 99.9% — do not trigger estate taxes today.
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    ARIZONA SENATOR MARTHA MCSALLY (R) 2 items: 1) Please DO NOT support this bill. This is the third time I'm asking. Remember who you represent. If you vote in support of this bill you DO NOT represent over 50% of Arizona Voters - you represent big business who have the desire to line their pockets while raping our National Parks. How much of a kick back have you been promised? You can look forward to having some free time come January 2021. 2) Some of us are talking about YOUR China investments - You should not be throwing stones at your opponent Mark Kelly, when you have invested in the same business as well as other Chinese companies! Getting rid of the investments a year ago does NOT forgive you for having them in the first place.
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    Nationally protected lands need to remain protected. Industry has destroyed much of the land in the United States in the pursuit of profit. Wilderness is necessary for our individual and collective health. To destroy wilderness to pay for the development of wilderness is beyond cynical.
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    One thing I would like to see added to this is a complete overhaul of the tax return system. The IRS does not need us to file our taxes. They know how much we paid and what we owe or are owed. Frankly, it would be more efficient for them to just send us a document to review and update if needed than to have us file, then they check our work. Intuit and other tax preparation companies have blocked this for decades and frankly, to hell with them. Let’s make government work for the people instead of for the dollar.
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    The IRS cannot be left to the ravages of an ancient set of computers (ancient in today's world is measured in less-than-a-decade increments). There may be reasons this particular bill doesn't make sense (I haven't studied it in detail) but generally what I'm aware of is that most of government is running on obsolete hardware and software. Just for security reasons alone, this must be corrected.
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    Absolutely, Sandra! Just take a look at our extreme weather patterns these days. Mining, oil production, fracking, coal mining, have ALL contributed to the destruction of our, once beautiful, earth. Animals are going extinct at an extremely alarming rate. Enough already. If we do not change our ways, soon we will be extinct, too.
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    Yes! It’s a start. We need to do like other countries. Just send me the summary at the end of the year, with a check or a bill. (A simple form to appeal). Taxes should not be this difficult.
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    The national lands and parks ARE NOT FOR DESTROYING FOR THE RICH TO GET RICHER. AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WILL HAPPEN. I knew there was a hidden agenda in this ”Bi-Partisan bill. This is ridiculous. Stop stripping our beautiful national lands for gas & oil & worse. Those companies not only are not careful when they work, but they also go off and leave a huge mess when they are finished. Our lands will be destroyed.
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    Hey my Moscow Mitch, communistic slimy wannabes and trumpublican Reps. “Comrades” Brady, Cornyn and Cruz, Just F’ing NO‼️ We seriously need to remove our reliance on oil, particularly in transportation!! 🖕🖕🖕💩’s Quit drilling up MY/OUR PARKS
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    I like my free tax filing. No thanks.
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    Yes pass the tax payer first act. We need all of the loopholes closed. It's time congress does things to help the average person. Their hardware & software needs to be updated.
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