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115th Congress   }                                      {      Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session     }                                      {     115-236

======================================================================



 
                  ESCAMBIA COUNTY LAND CONVEYANCE ACT

                                _______
                                

 July 20, 2017.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Bishop of Utah, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted 
                             the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 2370]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 2370) to authorize Escambia County, Florida, to 
convey certain property that was formerly part of Santa Rosa 
Island National Monument and that was conveyed to Escambia 
County subject to restrictions on use and reconveyance, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment 
and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 2370 is to authorize Escambia County, 
Florida, to convey certain property that was formerly part of 
Santa Rosa Island National Monument and that was conveyed to 
Escambia County subject to restrictions on use and 
reconveyance.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    In the Act of July 30, 1946 (Public Law 564, Ch. 699), 
Congress abolished the Santa Rosa National Monument and 
directed the Secretary of the Interior to convey the federal 
land in the monument to Escambia County, Florida. On January 
15, 1947, the federal government deeded the land to the county. 
Under the terms of the conveyance, Escambia County was given 
the authority to lease the property on Santa Rosa Island; 
however, it was not allowed to issue title on the property or 
otherwise dispose of or reconvey it.
    In 1956, Escambia County leased a portion of Santa Rosa 
Island lying within the political jurisdiction of Santa Rosa 
County (the Navarre area) to that county, under a perpetually 
renewing, nominal-consideration lease. Both counties have 
subleased properties on the Island to residents and business 
owners.
    In the intervening years, Santa Rosa Island experienced 
enormous growth. This growth prompted county leaders to assess 
ad valorem taxes on the leased lands. The imposition of taxes 
led to several lawsuits centered on the question of whether 
Island residents and business owners paying lease fees for 
their land could be taxed, despite not having outright 
ownership of the property. Courts have reached different 
conclusions based on differences in the language of particular 
leases, which has created fairness issues for the county 
governments of Santa Rosa and Escambia. One property may be 
subject to ad valorem taxes while a virtually identical 
property next door may not.
    This uneven treatment has prompted interest in removing the 
deed restriction prohibiting reconveyance, thus allowing the 
county governments to convey ownership and create a uniform tax 
treatment for all properties at the beach. Recently, both 
Escambia County and Santa Rosa County passed resolutions asking 
for a federal solution to allow current Santa Rosa Island 
leaseholders the option of attaining fee simple title while 
protecting public access to the beaches and conservation areas 
on the Island. A previous version of this bill was included as 
title I of H.R. 2954 (113th Congress), which passed the House 
of Representatives on February 6, 2014, by a bipartisan 220-194 
vote.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 2370 was introduced on May 4, 2017, by Congressman 
Matt Gaetz (R-FL). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee 
on Federal Lands. On June 22, 2017, the Full Natural Resources 
Committee met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee was 
discharged by unanimous consent. No amendments were offered and 
the bill was ordered favorably reported to the House of 
Representatives by voice vote on June 27, 2017.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

      COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII AND CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET ACT

    1. Cost of Legislation and the Congressional Budget Act. 
With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) and (3) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
sections 308(a) and 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974, the Committee has received the following estimate for the 
bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, July 19, 2017.
Hon. Rob Bishop,
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2370, the Escambia 
County Land Conveyance Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Janani 
Shankaran.
            Sincerely,
                                             Mark P. Hadley
                                        (For Keith Hall, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 2370--Escambia County Land Conveyance Act

    H.R. 2370 would authorize Escambia County in Florida to 
convey to private entities certain property that it received 
front the federal government. The specified properties were 
formerly part of the Santa Rosa Island National Monument and 
were transferred from the National Park Service (NPS) to 
Escambia County in 1947 for public purposes. Under the terms of 
that conveyance, Escambia County may re-convey the properties 
to the federal government or to the state of Florida. H.R. 2370 
would remove that condition and add new conditions. First, the 
bill would require Escambia County to convey to Santa Rosa 
County, Florida, any of the property that falls within the 
jurisdictional boundary of Santa Rosa County. Second, any 
proceeds above the direct or incidental costs of the 
conveyances would be transferred to the federal government.
    CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would 
result in no costs to the federal government. Enacting H.R. 
2370 could affect revenues because any proceeds collected above 
the direct and incidental costs associated with a land 
conveyance would be deposited into the general fund of the 
Treasury. Therefore pay-as-you-go procedures apply. However, 
based upon information provided by Escambia County and Santa 
Rosa County, CBO expects that the proceeds, net of the 
conveyance costs, would not be significant.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2370 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 2370 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Janani 
Shankaran. The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, 
Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to authorize Escambia County, 
Florida, to convey certain property that was formerly part of 
Santa Rosa Island National Monument and that was conveyed to 
Escambia County subject to restrictions on use and 
reconveyance.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5

    Directed Rule Making. This bill does not contain any 
directed rule makings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    H.R. 2370 removes the reversionary interest from certain 
land on Santa Rosa Island, a 40-mile barrier island in the Gulf 
of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Settled by 
Spanish explorer Tristan De Luna in 1559, it's the site of the 
earliest European settlement in North America and an eventual 
home to Fort Pickens, an important U.S. military base 
throughout much of early American history.
    In 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognized the 
historical significance of the island and used the Antiquities 
Act to proclaim the Santa Rosa Island National Monument. The 
monument was abolished by Congress in 1946 and the Department 
of Interior conveyed a portion of the island to Escambia 
County. The conveyance included a reversionary clause, which 
states that the land is to be used for public purposes and 
prohibits further conveyance of the land, except to the State 
of Florida or back to the federal government. The island, 
excluding Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach, is now managed as 
part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which Congress 
established in 1971. The national seashore receives over five 
million annual visitors and is an important engine for the 
local tourism economy.
    In 1956, Escambia County granted a 100-year lease of 
Navarre Beach to neighboring Santa Rosa County. The counties 
have since re-zoned to place Navarre Beach within Santa Rosa 
County, but it is still owned by Escambia County because of the 
use restrictions put in place by Congress. H.R. 2370 would 
convey, without restriction, land associated with the former 
Santa Rosa Island National Monument to the County of Escambia 
to be used at their discretion, removing the reversionary 
interest so that Escambia County can then transfer the deed to 
Santa Rosa County.
    Santa Rosa County is considering plans to enhance a marina 
at Navarre Beach. The proposed enhancements include dredging a 
channel through Santa Rosa Island, which could cut off public 
access to local beaches and have sizable impacts on the 
estuaries and wetlands that support wildlife habitat at Gulf 
Island National Seashore. Not only would this destroy 
estuaries, wetlands and negatively impact fisheries and water 
quality, but it would, at the American taxpayer's expense, 
further destabilize an already unstable strip of sand, putting 
lives, private property, and public infrastructure at risk.
    Barrier islands form to protect coastal areas. They are 
critical to healthy environments. Intact islands are important 
protection from rising waters, tides, and storm damage, so 
artificially breaching a barrier island is rarely good 
ecological practice.
    The National Park Service, in a statement for the record on 
a similar bill in the 113th Congress, recommended several 
amendments to the bill that would authorize the conveyance in a 
manner consistent with Congressional intent. Those changes have 
not been made.
    We understand that a lot of development has happened on 
Santa Rosa Island in the sixty years since the land was first 
conveyed to Escambia County, but Congressional intent remains 
the same: federal land conveyed to Escambia must be used for a 
public purpose. H.R. 2370 undermines that intent.
    We would support legislation to assist Escambia County and 
Santa Rosa County with zoning and ownership, but this is not 
that. We are opposed to any bill that does not include 
safeguards to ensure ongoing public access and prevent the 
channelization of Santa Rosa Island.
                                   Raul M. Grijalva,
                                           Ranking Member, House 
                                               Natural Resources 
                                               Committee.
                                   Jared Huffman,
                                           Ranking Member, Subcommittee 
                                               on Water, Power and 
                                               Oceans.
                                   Colleen Hanabusa,
                                           Ranking Member, Subcommittee 
                                               on Federal Lands.
                                   Nanette Diaz Barragan,
                                           Member of Congress.
                                   Grace F. Napolitano,
                                           Member of Congress.
                                   A. Donald McEachin,
                                           Ranking Member, Subcommittee 
                                               on Oversight and 
                                               Investigations.

                                  [all]