H.R. 312 would ratify and reaffirm the status of land taken into trust in 2015 by the Department of the Interior (DOI) for the benefit of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts. The act also would prohibit any lawsuits, including pending lawsuits, related to that land.
DOI is currently holding the land in trust pending ongoing legal review of the acquisition. Using information from DOI, CBO estimates that implementing the act would have no significant effect on the costs of managing the land.
By prohibiting pending and future lawsuits, H.R. 312 would end rights of action related to the land held in trust for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts that are available to public and private entities under current law. That prohibition imposes both an intergovernmental and private-sector mandate as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). The cost of the mandates would be the forgone value of compensation and settlements associated with such legal actions if they would have been successful under current law. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Taunton, and the Town of Mashpee have each entered into agreements with the tribe related to the use of the land. In light of those agreements as well as the land’s reported value, CBO expects that under current law it is unlikely that any entity would bring an action resulting in compensation that would exceed the annual thresholds established in UMRA. In 2019 those thresholds totaled $82 million for intergovernmental mandates and $164 million for private-sector mandates, adjusted annually for inflation.