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BOISE -- A House committee has voted in favor of appointing a panel of lawmakers to explore how the state would acquire and manage millions of acres of public land now overseen by the federal government.

The House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday also passed a resolution demanding that the federal government imminently transfer the ownership of those lands to the state.

Both measures passed along party lines and are headed to the full House.

Midvale Republican Rep. Lawerence Denney -- the chief sponsor of both measures -- argues the state is better equipped to manage public land than federal agencies. Denney also says Idaho would benefit from increased timber cutting and other activity on those lands.

Foes say an ownership shift would potentially be bad for the environment and public access.

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