Category: Congress

A new push to make brownfield cleanup more affordable

esty-brownfields-bill-2015Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Mayor Patricia Murphy of New Milford, CT visit New Milford’s Century Brass mill, a brownfield site, in 2014. Photos via The News-Times.

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT-5) is fighting hard to reinstate a tax incentive to help cleaning up contaminated land more affordable and more feasible.

Late last month, Esty introduced the Brownfields Redevelopment Tax Incentive Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2002), a bill to re-establish the Brownfields Tax Incentive which ended in 2011.

Originally signed into law in 1997 and codified through Section 198(h) of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax code, the Incentive allowed taxpayers to fully deduct the costs of brownfield sites’ environmental cleanup the year the costs were incurred—making the arduous process more affordable for those who take it on.

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Bipartisan coalition introduces the Safe Streets Act of 2015

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A new bill in the House of Representatives would help communities across the country make streets safer and more convenient for everyone who uses them.

Late yesterday, Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) introduced the Safe Streets Act of 2015 (HR 2071), a bill which would require all new federally-funded transportation projects to use a Complete Streets approach to planning, designing, and building roads.

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Senators Schatz, Markey, and Merkley introduce Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act

A new bill introduced today in the Senate would help local communities better capitalize on development opportunities near public transportation by providing financing support in the form of loans or loan guarantees under the highly successful the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act, a bill which would add a new provision to TIFIA to include financing for transit-oriented development projects. In response, Christopher Coes, Director of LOCUS, released the following statement.

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A new bill in Congress would create new financing option for transit-oriented development

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Transit-oriented development (TOD) can make it easier for people to live and work near public transportation. These places are in high demand and real estate developers are eager to build them, but because they’re often complicated TOD projects can be difficult to secure financing for.

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Transportation and infrastructure take center stage in President Obama’s 2016 budget proposal

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President Obama released his proposal for the fiscal year (FY) 2016 federal budget yesterday, and if passed, it would be an enormous help to communities looking to grow in better, more economically vibrant ways.

Most notably the proposal includes significant investment in transportation and infrastructure programs (there’s even a photo of a bridge on the cover). Building on the Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act, the budget proposes $94.7 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for the Department of Transportation and sweeping improvements to its programs as part of a six-year, $478 billion surface transportation reauthorization. That would be a $176 billion increase over the last authorization, and $76 billion more than the four-years of funding proposed in the GROW AMERICA Act last spring.

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U.S. Transportation Anthony Foxx voices support for transit-oriented development before Senate EPW Committee

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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works this morning on a number of issues related to the next transportation bill. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) asked the Secretary what role, if any, transit-oriented development should play.

“When you build a transit station, it captures the imagination of real estate developers,” Secretary Foxx replied, “and they start to build dense developments and bring amenities to communities. I would urge that we do more to partner with local communities, and to help them develop the tools to utilize land use opportunities.”

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What the ‘cromnibus’ would mean for federal community development programs

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On Tuesday, the House released its plan to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year. The bill is part omnibus, part continuing resolution—hence the nickname “cromnibus”—and sets discretionary federal spending at close to $1.01 trillion for the rest of fiscal year 2015. The House is expected to take up passage of the bill by tomorrow and the Senate is expected to follow soon after, in hopes of avoiding a potential federal shutdown when the current funding bill expires this week.

The good news is that nearly all federal community development programs would be funded as part of this bill. The bad news is that the majority of those programs would face cuts of some kind.

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Senate, House tangle over highway funding cliff

In the past week, with just days left before the Highway Trust Fund runs dry, both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed short-term measures that would keep the fund solvent through the end of this year.

While both plans are essentially short-term patches for a long-term problem—meeting America’s growing infrastructure needs with funding from a gas tax that hasn’t risen since 1993—the Senate version, passed Tuesday, is a big step in the right direction.

Gone are the pension-smoothing and accounting gimmicks, included in the House’s earlier version of the bill, that Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) called “generational theft.” Furthermore, rather than delay the Trust Fund’s insolvency to May of 2015, the new proposal only runs through the end of this year, forcing Congress to confront a long-term solution sooner.

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