News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Utah Land Swap Signed Into Law

President Clinton has signed into law a bill that makes final a swap of federal property for school trust lands in Utah.

Under the law, Utah will turn over 377,000 acres of school trust lands to the federal government for $50 million in cash and some 139,000 acres of federal lands elsewhere in the state.

The $50 million, plus any revenues from coal or development of the other federal lands, will go to a state school trust fund.

Mr. Clinton, in a statement accompanying his Oct. 31 signature of the Utah Schools and Land Exchange Act of 1998, called the swap the "largest such land exchange in the history of the lower 48 states."

The law was the result of an agreement last May between Gov. Michael O. Leavitt and Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt. The law includes the exchange of 177,000 acres of school trust lands in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which the president created by executive authority in 1996 to the dismay of state officials.

Under the agreement, the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Board will drop a lawsuit against the Interior Department over the creation of the national monument.

--Mark Walsh

Court Rejects Alaska District's Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to step into a dispute between an Alaska school district and the federal government over the reimbursement of health-care costs for the district's Alaska Native employees.

The Bering Strait district had asked the high court to reverse a federal appeals court ruling that said the district must reimburse the federal government and a private corporation for health-care services provided to Alaska Natives.

Under the federal Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the federal government provides free health care to Native Americans, but it can seek reimbursement for recipients who are covered by separate insurance plans. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled 2-1 that the district was not exempt from the reimbursements because it is not an arm of the state.

At issue for the district was some $2 million in reimbursements over several years. The appeal was Bering Strait School District v. United States (Case No. 98-172).

--Mark Walsh

Fiscal 1999 Grant Guidelines Published

The Department of Education has released its blueprint of competitive-grant deadlines for fiscal 1999.

In a series of charts in the Nov. 3 Federal Register, the department lists approximate deadlines for a wide range of grant programs, as well as state contact information. The deadlines are subject to change, and the document is not an official application notice.

The advisory notice identifies programs run by different offices within the department, and provides an estimated number of grants and a projected range of the amount of individual awards in many cases.

For more information, see the Federal Register. Copies of the notice are available by calling Arthur Stewart at the Education Department at (202) 708-8263; or on the World Wide Web at:

--Mary-Ellen Phelps Deily

Vol. 18, Issue 11, Page 22

Published in Print: November 11, 1998, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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