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APA From Washington, June 24, 2002


A shadow of my former self
Staff member
From Washington

The American Planning Association's biweekly
update on legislative and public policy issues

June 24, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 10
Register for APA's Audioconference, Defensible
Moratoria: Lessons Learned from Tahoe

Track key legislation in Congress with APA's online
"Capitol Hill at-a-glance":

Save the Date! APA's Legislative and Policy Conference
May 11 - 13, 2003 in Washington, D.C.

In this issue ...

House Committee Votes on Affordable Housing Bill
Land Conservation Tax Incentives Approved by Senate Committee
Amtrak on the Brink
First Hurdle Nears for Interior Spending
Still Time to Register for Tahoe Audioconference
Advocacy Training Coming to a Conference Near You

House Committee Votes on Affordable Housing Bill


Last week the House Financial Services Committee began consideration of H.R. 3995, the Housing Affordability for America Act. The bill, drafted by Rep. Marge Roukema (R-NJ), would overhaul a
variety of housing regulations and authorize money for various programs with the goal of increasing the availability of affordable housing. Among its provisions are a new program providing
homeownership aid for some municipal workers and a voucher program for low-income renters.

Supporters of a national affordable housing trust fund hoped to use the bill as a vehicle for the trust fund. Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) offered the trust fund proposal as an amendment. After a
vigorous and emotional debate, the amendment was adopted 33 to 28. The victory, however, is likely to be short-lived. The mark-up was suspended before action was completed, and Rep. Richard
Baker (R-LA) switched his vote on the amendment from 'no' to 'yes' when it became apparent the amendment would pass. This action allows him to make a motion to reconsider the amendment at a later
date, presumably when more Republicans are present to defeat it. The trust fund would provide funds to build, rehabilitate, and preserve 1.5 million units of affordable housing over the next 10 years.

Supporters are undaunted and plan to offer another amendment designed to attract some Republican support. The amendment would establish an affordable housing trust fund but, unlike the previous
proposal, would not mandate a funding source. This fiscal flexibility may attract some Committee moderates. With all Committee Democrats in support, the amendment would need to pick up at least three
Republicans. APA supports the establishment of an affordable housing trust fund.

Another controversial element of the legislation is its provision for housing impact analysis of federal regulations. This section would require all federal agencies to perform a "housing impact analysis"
prior to promulgating any rule to determine "the extent to which the rule would increase the cost or reduce the supply of housing or land for residential development" available to families below 150% of
an area's median income, which is approximately 70 percent of the population. Although the purpose of this analysis may seem laudable, the effect of this proposal will be to keep fair housing, labor,
environmental regulations and other proposed rules from going forward. A number of organizations, including APA, have opposed this section of the bill. Although the language likely will be approved in
the House bill, Senate aides suggest it will not be included in any companion legislation.

When consideration of H.R. 3995 resumes this week, Rep. Steve Isreal (D-NY) may introduce a planning-related amendment. Rep. Isreal's proposed amendment would provide grant assistance to
communities seeking to re-zone certain districts for mixed-use. The amendment seeks to promote what it refers to as "fast track zoning plans" to "change qualified commercial districts into qualified
mixed-use areas." Activities eligible for include staffing, mapping, and other appropriate planning activities.

The Financial Services Committee hopes to complete work on H.R. 3995 this week.

Land Conservation Tax Incentives Approved by Senate Committee


The Senate Finance Committee gave approval last week to a modified version of the Administration's faith-based initiative. As part of that process, Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) attached
$1.26 billion in new tax incentives for land conservation.

Current tax law offers incentives for landowners who donate acreage to conservation organizations. But there are few incentives for owners who sell their lands, as longtime landowners face
significant capital gains taxes. The Baucus proposal cuts capital gains taxes by 25 percent for landowners selling "qualified conservation property to charitable organizations." Additionally, the measure
would allow conservation easement donors to deduct 50 percent of their income per year. Currently, donors are only allowed to deduct 30 percent of their income per year. Farmers and ranchers,
defined as individuals who earn 51 percent of their income from the two professions, would be allowed all of their income each year.

Other provisions allow the federal government to issue $2 billion of tax-exempt revenue bonds to conservation organizations, to use toward the acquisition of forest lands and provide a tax benefit for
individuals and groups involved with the Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners For Fish and Wildlife Program, which works to restore wildlife habitat on private lands.

Similar measures are pending in the House, including H.R. 2290 from Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH) providing a 50 percent capital gains tax break for owners who sell their land or easements for
conservation purposes and H.R. 1309 from Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) allowing land donors to deduct 50 percent of their gross income per year. The House Ways and Means Committee has held
hearings on both measures.

The land conservation tax provisions have bipartisan support, including the backing of the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee Charles Grassley (R-IA). The Administration appears
supportive of at least the capital gains provision of the Baucus package, and supporters believe the incentives are likely to survive a House-Senate conference.

Amtrak on the Brink


This week Amtrak faces the greatest financial crisis in the rail carrier's 30-year existence. Unable to borrow more money from banks, Amtrak is seeking an emergency $200 million loan from the U.S.
Transportation Department's Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program. Without the loan, Amtrak President David Gunn said the carrier would immediately begin shutting down. Federal
Railroad Administration Allan Rutter is scheduled to decide Amtrak's short-term fate later this week.

Although most observers expect the Bush Administration to approve the emergency loan rather than risk a commuter crisis along busy routes, such as the northeast corridor from Washington, D.C. to
Boston. However, the Administration appears to be seeking a dramatic long-term restructuring of Amtrak. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta outlined the Administration's plan in a speech last
week. He called for a policy that would remove Amtrak's monopoly on intercity passenger rail service, halt its federal operating subsidy, shift profit-making routes into a separate company, and providing
for a much greater role for states.

Amtrak has said it needs at least $1.2 billion in federal spending for FY03. The Bush Administration's budget called for $521 million. Amtrak supporters in Congress are pressing a $1.9 billion Amtrak
reauthorization (H.R. 4545, S. 1991). But, so far these initiatives have run into opposition. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Don Young (R-AK) continues to insist that any rail program
include his $59 billion proposal for high- speed rail loans and bonds. Many Amtrak supporters claim that any fix will be temporary absent a dedicated source of funding, such as some set aside of
federal gas tax revenues.

Whatever the final resolution, the crisis for Amtrak is an immediate one. As Amtrak proponent Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) said, "we are literally coming down to a matter of hours."

First Hurdle Nears for Interior Spending


Later this week, a House Appropriations Subcommittee will take action on FY03 spending for Interior Department programs. Early indications are that a number of programs will receive funding boosts
from House appropriators above the amounts requested by the Bush Administration. Programs likely to get increases include the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, USGS water quality
assessments, and conservation programs in the Land Conservation, Preservation and Infrastructure Improvement trust fund, also known as the Title VIII trust.

The Title VIII trust fund was established as part of the FY01 appropriations process as a compromise to enactment of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act. The trust fund covers a broad array of
conservation and recreation programs and was slated to gradually increase from $1.32 billion in FY02 to $2.4 billion in FY06.

One of the key programs funded under the conservation trust fund is the Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery Act (UPARR). The Bush Administration has repeatedly attempted to eliminate set aside
UPARR funding and instead favors including UPARR programs in the competitive stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund grant program. Last year Congress rejected that approach and approved
$30 million in UPARR spending for FY02. APA and other organizations supporting UPARR have urged Congress to provide $35 million for UPARR in FY03. Earlier this spring, Rep. George Miller (D-CA)
and Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) gathered more than 60 signatures from members of Congress onto a letter asking the House Appropriators to keep UPARR funding at a sustainable level.

Recently, the National Park Service announced UPARR funding recipients for FY02. Seventy-one communities received approximately $29 million in grants for urban parks. The Park Service touted the
spending as "much-needed funding to renovate local community centers, swimming pools... and other recreational facilities to provide safe, healthy and enjoyable recreation opportunities for
neighborhood residents of all ages." Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a staunch UPARR supporter, wrote to Interior Secretary Gale Norton noting the disconnect between the Park Service's press
release and the Administration's efforts to eliminate the program. Calling the effort "deeply hypocritical" and "a grave disservice" to city dwellers, Senator Boxer urged the Administration to reconsider its

As the appropriations process move forward in the House and Senate, now is an important time to let your Representative and Senators know you support full UPARR funding. Ask them to fully fund
UPARR and Title VIII trust fund programs in FY03. More information and email access to your elected representatives is available via APA's online action center at www.planning.org/legislation
<http://www.planning.org/legislation> (just select "legislative action center").

Still Time to Register for Tahoe Audioconference


On Wednesday, June 26 at 4:00 p.m. (eastern), APA will hold a special audioconference examining the scope and impact of the Supreme Court's recent decision in the case of Tahoe Sierra
Preservation Council v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA).

The program is cosponsored by the International Municipal Lawyers Association, Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, National Association of Towns and Townships, the National League of Cities, the
National Trust for Historic Preservation, and APA's Planning and Law Division. Albany Law School Dean and Chair of APA's Amicus Curiae Patricia Salkin will moderate the program. Speakers for the
special program are Harvard Professor Jerold Kayden, Dwight Merriam, FAICP of Robinson & Cole, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Oregon Robert Liberty, and Vivian Kahn, FAICP of Kahn
Mortimer Associates.

In a 6-3 decision, the Court rejected the notion that a categorical rule with regard to moratoria would be in the best interests of landowners or communities. In a clear endorsement of the planning
process, the Court stated, "To the extent that communities are forced to abandon using moratoria, landowners will have incentives to develop their property quickly before a comprehensive plan can be
enacted, thereby fostering inefficient and ill-conceived growth." The Court affirmed the use of moratoria and planning as "essential tools of the development process."

The audioconference format allows you and others in your location to listen via conference call to a panel of expert speakers. Registration includes a site license (allowing multiple listeners for a single
fee), background information, and other special resources.

To learn more about this program and to register online, go to www.planning.org/audioconference/tahoe.htm <http://www.planning.org/audioconference/tahoe.htm>.

Advocacy Training Coming to a Conference Near You


APA is now offering special advocacy training seminars for planners to be held in conjunction with selected chapter and regional conferences. Stephanie Vance of AdVanced Consulting and former
Capitol Hill staffer is conducting the sessions, which focus on effective communications with elected officials, strategies for grassroots lobbying activities, and tips for cyberadvocacy. Ten seminars are
scheduled for this year. A list of scheduled sessions is provided below. Make plans now to take advantage of this new program. For more information on grassroots training activities, contact APA
government affairs office at govtaffairs@planning.org <mailto:govtaffairs@planning.org> or 202.872.0611. Resources for improving your personal advocacy with elected officials, can be found online
at www.planning.org/advocacy/ <http://www.planning.org/advocacy/>.

Upcoming Advocacy Training Sessions

July 25
Michigan Society of Planning Legislative Conference -- Lansing, Michigan

September 11 - 13
Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana APA Regional Conference -- Covington, Kentucky

September 22 - 24
Washington APA Chapter Conference -- Seattle, Washington
www.washington-apa.org <http://www.washington-apa.org>

October 2 - 5
Texas-New Mexico APA Regional Conference -- El Paso, Texas
www.nmapa.org <http://www.nmapa.org>

October 16 - 18
Tennessee-Mississippi APA Regional Conference -- Memphis, Tennessee

October 24 - 26
Four State APA Conference (AR/KS/MO/OK) -- Fort Smith, Arkansas

November 6 - 8
Upper Midwest Regional APA Conference -- Des Moines, Iowa

December 6
New Jersey APA Chapter Conference -- New Brunswick, New Jersey
www.njapa.org <http://www.njapa.org>

To unsubscribe or change your subscription, send email to
For more information about APA's government affairs
activities, contact Jason Jordan (jjordan@planning.org)
or Devin Cahill (dcahill@planning.org) at 202.872.0611.
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