At the current pace of economic growth, the “jobs gap” won’t close until 2018. This gap includes both jobs lost during the recession as well as new ones needed to keep pace with population increases. For working Americans, particularly in rural counties like Mono, that wait is far too long.
Last year, I introduced, H.R. 1241, a vital local jobs bill for Mono County. This legislation facilitates a land exchange that would allow the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to obtain the 21 acres surrounding the Mammoth Mountain Inn. This land is currently leased from the National Forest Service. In exchange, the National Forest Service would receive from the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area over 1,500 acres of valuable wilderness along with a monetary offset.
This bill has two primary goals. First and foremost, this is a jobs bill. After more than 50 years of use, the Mammoth Mountain Inn building itself requires significant improvements and rehabilitation. This land exchange will allow Mammoth Mountain to start construction, creating jobs to rebuild the Inn. Mammoth Mountain’s employment fluctuates between a high of 2,500 employees during the winter to a low of approximately 650 employees in the summer, making Mammoth Mountain the largest employer in the county. The new construction on the Inn will help facilitate not only new construction jobs during renovation but will allow the ski area to expand, creating more permanent jobs.
Second, this is an environmental bill. The 1,500 acres involved in this land exchange have long been desired for protection by local conservationists and the Forest Service. Protection of these lands is imperative to the scenic basin, and this bill protects them. I say that if we can protect public land and create jobs at the same time, we should do it as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, we face a major roadblock. For the past six years, the growth of the federal government and federal deficit has far outpaced the growth of our California and local economies. We can’t afford to wait for solutions from others; that’s why it’s time for bills like H.R. 1241 to help us grow the economy from the ground up. My bill passed out of the House of Representatives with wide bipartisan support last December but has been stuck in the Senate ever since. In a partisan Senate more concerned with protecting its own majority than helping working Americans, this vital jobs bill has languished alongside over 250 other bills with strong bipartisan support. Senate leadership has indicated H.R. 1241 won’t receive any action until after the election at the very earliest. This is unacceptable, and I call on the Senate to take up this bipartisan bill and pass it immediately. American families want to get back to work, and they’ve waited long enough. I ask that you join me in telling the Senate to wake up and listen to the voices of rural residents.