Editor's note:

Nevadans have become so used to mushy bob-and-weave responses from their politicians that it becomes frontpage news when an elected representative dares to be candid and forthright.

But that's what happened this week when Richard Brengman of Gardnerville received in the mail a response from Nevada's new

Second District congressman, Jim Gibbons, to a letter Brengman had sent him earlier.

Brengman was so surprised at the clarity and force in Gibbons' communication that he began sharing the letter with friends, and ultimately agreed to allow us at Electric Nevada to make it generally available....

 


 

JIM GIBBONS
2nd District, Nevada

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-2802

February 28, 1997

 

Mr. Richard Brengman
P.O. Box 3177
Gardnerville, NV 89410

Dear Mr. Brengman:

Thank you for writing me regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s attempt to increase their law enforcement powers. Their actions have concerned me greatly as well.

The Constitution of the United States guarantees proper notice describing those actions which may subject its citizens to criminal punishment. However, in this case, the BLM has criminalized thousands of minor violations of federal, state and local rules that previously were not criminal, without explaining the specific acts which are now criminal. The proposed regulations’ vague references to "any law or ordinance" are not constitutionally sufficient, thus the proposed regulations are unconstitutional.

For example, proposed regulation 9263.1 makes any citizen a criminal who is on federal lands and who does not comply with all "state and local laws, regulations and ordinances relating to the use, standards, registrations, operation and inspection of motorized vehicles and trailers." The average citizen, and probably many employees of the BLM, are not familiar with the thousands of regulations that have just been elevated to criminal status. Without a specific list of the acts or omissions which are criminal, the BLM’s proposed regulations are again illegal.

The egregiousness of these actions do not stop there. The United States Constitution states that a citizen may not be placed in jeopardy twice for the same offense. These proposed regulations state that an individual who is charged with a violation by the Environmental Protections Agency can also be charged by BLM with a violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. This is clearly an attempt to submit citizens to double jeopardy and thus circumvent the constitution.

The 8th Amendment to the Constitution states that "Excessive bills shall not be required nor excessive fines imposed nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted." The possibility that one may be fined $100,000 for driving one mile an hour over a thirty mile an hour speed limit is certainly an excessive fine. The possibility of spending twelve months in jail for the same offense is also cruel and unusual punishment, and again unconstitutional.

I have written a letter to U.S. Representative Jim Hansen, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands, and have requested that we have extensive hearings on these proposed regulations. As you can see from the attached press release, these hearings will begin shortly after March 7th, which is the date the public comment period ends.

Rest assured that as a sitting member of the National Parks and Public Land Subcommittee, I will do all that I can to ensure the rights of the people of Nevada and this Nation are not unduly taken from them.

Thank you for contacting me regarding this matter. If I can be of any help to you in the future, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Sincerely,

JIM GIBBONS
Member of Congress