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The Federal Government has over five million unleased mineral acres beneath private lands in New Mexico, designated as “disposal lands.” Seeing an opportunity to help alleviate the nation’s highest rate of child poverty, Aubrey Dunn, the New Mexico State Land Commissioner, has proposed the Early Childhood Education Land Grant Act (the “Act).

The Act seeks to transfer unleased federal mineral acres beneath private lands to the State of New Mexico. 95% of all revenue generated from the lease of such transferred lands would be placed in the “early childhood education nonsectarian services land grant permanent fund.” Such funds would be used to provide “nonsectarian services for children from birth until the age of kindergarten eligibility that are provided by a school district, pueblo, or tribal entity, the New Mexico school for the blind and visually impaired or the New Mexico school for the deaf…” The remaining 5% of revenue would be used by the State Land Office to cover administrative costs.

The press release, including the draft of the bill can be found HERE.

Political Reality:

The Act faces a steep uphill battle in the New Mexico legislature primarily due to concerns over drilling in urban, or near urban areas, and conservation considerations. Once passed, it must be spearheaded by New Mexico’s congressional delegation, which is 4-1 Democrat-Republican. Republicans dominate the United States Senate (54-44) and the United States House 246-188. Passage, then, looks unlikely based solely on party lines.

Reactions to the Act:

“A crackpot idea…” and just another attempt in an ongoing effort to take over federal lands…

  • Anonymous former New Mexico State Land Commissioner

“I think it would be fantastic….but I don’t think it’s going to happen” (expressing doubt Congress will turn over the mineral rights).

  • Patrick Lyons (R), former New Mexico State Land Commissioner

SOURCE for reaction quotes.