The Idaho Association of Soil Conservation District’s Board of Directors held a conference call on May 16th and voted to support the Government Litigation Savings Act. This bill is authored by Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Senator John Barrasso (R-WY). IASCD sent a letter to our two US Senators and two Congressmen asking they become original co-sponsors of this legislation. Because of this effort, Congressman Mike Simpson (ID-02) and Senator James Risch (R-ID) added their names as original co-sponsors to this legislation.
**June 1st, 2011 update: Congressman Labrador has agreed to become a co-sponsor of this legislation. Senator Crapo has also added his name as a co-sponsor to the Senate version of the bill.**
If passed, this legislation would require tracking and reporting of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) and Judgment Fund payments. This bill would bring transparency and accountability to a flawed system that has led to the abuse of taxpayer dollars. Currently, EAJA allows small businesses, individuals and public interest groups to be reimbursed for legal fees they are the prevailing party during litigation against the federal government. These fees come out of the federal agency’s budget.
The Government Litigation Savings Act would prevent organizations whose net worth exceeds $7 million from filing for EAJA payments, require that EAJA filers show a “direct and personal monetary interest” in the action to be eligible for payments and limit the number of annual reimbursements and amount a filer may receive. This bill would also cap total EAJA reimbursements to $200,000 for any single action and allows no more than three EAJA awards in one calendar year. Additionally, this legislation would establish an online database of those that have received payment from EAJA and require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an audit of payments made over the last 15 years.