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Congressman Tom O´Halleran

Representing the 1st District of Arizona

O’Halleran Introduces Overhaul of Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committees

June 13, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced the RAC Reform Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation targeting the Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) provision of the Secure Rural Schools Act.

“Rural communities across the country rely on the recommendations of Resource Advisory Committees for the development and implementation of special projects on federal lands,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “I introduced this commonsense legislation to streamline the appointment process for RAC members and eliminate bureaucratic red tape that prevents these committees from doing their essential work.”

Under the Secure Rural Schools Act, RACs are composed of 15 representatives, appointed by the United States Secretary of Agriculture, from three categories of stakeholders: Industry, Environment, and Local Government and Educators. In small communities, it is difficult for RACs to meet quorum and fulfill their duties. Among the RACs impacted by this issue are the Coconino RAC, Yavapai RAC, Eastern Arizona RAC, and Southern Arizona RAC.

The RAC Reform Act of 2017 Will:

  • Reduce committee size from 15 to 9 members, to ensure that a quorum is attainable, especially in rural areas;
  • Localize appointment approvals from the Secretary of Agriculture to the Regional Forester, ensuring that there is not a backlog of nominees waiting for appointment;
  • Eliminate term limits for RACs with a budget under $1,000,000, guaranteeing qualified and experienced community members are available to serve on local RACs.

“The American people deserve a government that works for them and is open to their input in the decision-making process,” continued O’Halleran. “We must guarantee the efficacy of these RACs so we can strengthen the livelihood and economic vitality of communities across rural America.”

The RAC Reform Act of 2017 is endorsed by The Nature Conservancy of Arizona, The National Association of Counties, and The Federal Forest Research Coalition.