Alexander Cosponsors Bill to Reimburse States for Cost of Reopening Nat’l Parks During 2013 Federal Shutdown

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; January 12, 2015:

Says Legislation Would Reimburse $60,000 To Tennessee For Blount And Sevier Counties

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2015 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today cosponsored legislation with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to reimburse states that provided their own funds to keep the national parks within their state open during the federal government shutdown in October 2013, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s greatest treasures, which was forced to be shut down during its prime tourist season, a time when the park welcomes the most visitors and the surrounding businesses make most of their money,” Alexander said. “This legislation would help relieve the pain caused in these areas and their surrounding communities and ensure Tennessee taxpayers won’t have to pay the price for keeping them open.”

The National Park Access Act would reimburse the six states (Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah) that paid the National Park Service approximately $2 million of state and local money to keep the national parks in their states open during the federal government shutdown. Blount and Sevier Counties in Tennessee spent nearly $60,000 to reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

During the government shutdown, Alexander introduced similar legislation, The Protecting States, Opening National Parks Act,to reimburse states within 90 days for all state funds used to reopen national parks while the federal government was shut down. He also worked with the National Park Service, Gov. Haslam, Blount and Sevier counties, and other members of the Tennessee delegation to reopen the national parks and ensure Tennessee and other states would be reimbursed for opening their national parks during the shutdown. The Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, which ended the shutdown, included $2 million in retroactive funding for the National Park Service to cover the payments made by the states. Today’s legislation gives the National Park Service the congressional authority it needs to refund this money back to the states, including the $60,000 for the state of Tennessee and Blount and Sevier Counties.