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October 24, 2000

S. 2873 - Washington County, Utah, Land Transfer Act
(Sen. Bennett (R) Utah)

While the Administration favors purchasing most of the land at issue in S. 2873, the Administration opposes the bill because it would provide vastly preferential treatment to one landowner, require costly and unnecessary litigation, create adverse precedent, and require a land purchase under terms that are not in the public interest.

S. 2873, as reported by the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, would compensate one land owner at a level that is unsupported by appraisals and includes unjustified payments beyond the value of the land. The bill would legislate the acquisition of additional land that is not in the public interest and provide for acquisition of land that has been the subject of litigation and has a possible cloud on the title. Moreover, the bill would require the United States to take title immediately upon enactment, without providing an adequate time frame to ensure clear title or remove encumbrances, and otherwise protect the interests of the United States. Finally, the bill would circumvent the normal court considerations of a property owner's claims.

Pay-As-You-Go Scoring

S. 2873 would increase direct spending, therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go requirement of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. The bill does not contain provisions to offset the increased direct spending. Therefore, if the bill were enacted, its net budget cost could contribute to a sequester of mandatory programs. OMB's preliminary scoring estimate is that it would increase direct spending by about $35 million to $80 million. Final scoring of this legislation may deviate from this estimate.