Natural Resource and Law Faculty Provide Expertise to Idaho Legislature

Friday, September 23 2011

Jay O’Laughlin, professor and director of the College of Natural Resources Policy Analysis Group, and College of Law Professor Emeritus Dennis Colson, author of “Idaho's Constitution: The Tie That Binds,” provided background information on Idaho’s endowment lands to the Idaho Legislature’s Interim Committee on Natural Resources during its recent two-day hearings. The hearings focused on the 2.5 million acres of lands managed by the state as a trust to provide financial benefits for public schools and other public institutions, including the University. O’Laughlin summarized “Idaho’s Endowment Lands: A Matter of Sacred Trust,” a new report issued by the Policy Analysis Group. Colson summarized the debate about these lands that took place during the constitutional convention in 1889. Today, the original grants totaling 3.6 million acres have been reduced by about one third. O’Laughlin says current issues to be addressed during the 2012 legislature include whether the State Board of Land Commissioners is generating “maximum long term financial return” to support the schools, as the Idaho Constitution requires; and a legislative proposal tabled in 2011 concerning the purchase and management of commercial real estate.