Veterans and business owners are speaking out about Joe Heck’s vote on H.R. 1505 (linked to H.R. 2578), a bill which gives police state powers over our public lands to the Department of Homeland Security. Last Tuesday’s Las Vegas Review Journal featured a full page ad lambasting Heck’s decision to vote for this bill that local business owners say may harm tourism, the local economy and jobs. The ad was signed by five Las Vegas small business owners.
Today, local veterans posted a video calling Congressman Heck out on this vote. One even said “I didn’t serve this country just to see Joe Heck violate our public lands.” See the video below:
H.R. 1505 gives the Department of Homeland Security extraordinary access and control over all public lands in the United States. The bill appears to be motivated by anti-immigrant fervor, but unjustifiably gives DHS police state powers and the potential to restrict public access to national parks and other public lands.
Funny, Congressman Heck thought this was so important for “national security” and yet he was more than happy to exempt land “used for mining, livestock grazing and timber harvesting,” which makes the whole thing very suspect.
From the text of the bill:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection shall have immediate access to land under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture for purposes of conducting the following activities on such land that assist in securing the international land borders of the United States:
(A) Construction and maintenance of roads.
(B) Construction and maintenance of fences.
(C) Use vehicles to patrol.
(D) Installation, maintenance, and operation of surveillance equipment and sensors.
(E) Use of aircraft.
(F) Deployment of temporary tactical infrastructure, including forward operating bases.
The bill also threatens to undermine decades of environmental protections… something Republicans have been doing all year long. From the Sierra Club:
“Voiding decades of the nation’s fundamental environmental protections – as H.R. 1505 seeks to do – would be a huge step backward in protecting public health, and would do little to advance the cause of border security. The legislation represents nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to appease polluters by giving them a zone where they have free rein to harm our wild heritage and threaten the health of our families.”
It’s a scary power shift that Joe Heck should have thought about more before jumping on this train wreck. Nevada’s public lands are important to our local economy, bringing tens of thousands of tourists here every year. This was not a bright move anytime, especially while so many businesses are struggling and people are out of work.
A lot of bills are passed every year that few people notice. This may be one that went largely under the radar, but could have significant long term consequences for all of us. This is something important you can speak up about. Send an email to Joe Heck telling him this was a horrible idea.
Justin is the publisher The Nevada View, which has earned the recognition in the Washington Post’s “Best State-Based Political Blogs,” as well as being awarded the “Most Valuable Blogger Award” by the local CBS affiliate in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @McAffee