In a spirit of bipartisanship, U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) has teamed with Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) to introduce the ‘Lodging Options Developed for Government Employess (LODGE) Act’.
WASHINGTON. D.C. – Congressmen Blake Moore (R-UT) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) have introduced the Lodging Options Developed for Government Employees (LODGE) Act.
“Utah is known for our incredible national parks that attract millions of visitors each year,” said Moore. “As visitation levels continue to skyrocket, we must pursue creative solutions to add efficiency to our system, lower costs and serve the needs of our communities.”
The LODGE Act will cut red tape and provide the National Park Service (NPS) with new authority to enter into innovative housing partnerships with the private sector.
The legislation will also reduced costs to the taxpayer by providing modern housing for the NPS employees to rent; increase the ability of that agency to hire and retain staff; and improve NPS employees’ morale.
Moore has an unusual reputation for bipartisanship, often reaching across the political aisle to enlist the assistance of Democrats to get things done.
His partner in this case is U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, a three-term congressman from California and the son of Leon Panetta, who served in numerous official posts in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
“Many of our national parks and surrounding areas lack the infrastructure to affordably house our park service employees,” Panetta explained. “My LODGE Act would help alleviate the lack of housing by allowing public-private partnerships to provide much-needed supply of housing in these high demand regions.”
While the late Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) earned high praise from the media for similar alliances with late Sen. Teddy Kennedy (D-MA) in the 1980s and 1990s, the times have seemingly changed.
After a poor showing at the GOP state convention on April 23, Moore is fighting for his political life.
After three rounds of balloting, former civilian intelligence officer Andrew Badger narrowly missed capturing the party’s nomination with 59.2 percent of the ballots cast as opposed to Moore’s 40.7 percent.
In contrast to Moore’s bipartisanship, the GOP delegates seemed to reward Badger’s fiery rhetoric promising no compromise with Democrats.
Moore’s staff reports that 44 units of the National Park Service set a record for recreational visits in 2021.
Utah’s national parks were particularly busy, with visitation rates up by nearly 80 percent.
While a surge in tourism is beneficial to local economies, they say, it poses major challenges for housing options in national park communities and surrounding areas, known as gateway communities.
Additionally, local property owners are compounding the problem by using short-term rental services to rent their homes to vacationers rather than leasing them to NPS and private sector service employees.
As a result, housing costs in many gateway communities have skyrocketed.
“The LODGE Act (will address these problems) by providing the NPS with the tools they need to staff and manage these lands by improving access to housing,” Moore explained.
It remains to be seen how continued bipartisanship by Moore will play well with Utah voters.
Moore will now face off against Badger and former Morgan County commissioner Tina Cannon in the June 28 Republican primary voting.
Cannon had already secured a spot on the primary ballot by collecting signatures.