Category: Congress

Congress moves toward short-term transportation fix

Wyden-FInance-markup
Chairman Wyden helped two committees arrive at a short-term fix.

This week, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees moved toward passing a short-term fix for the transportation funding crisis, with each committee passing a complementary bill designed to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through at least early 2015. If passed into law, the bills would transfer $10.8 billion dollars to the trust fund, keeping federal transportation operations in the black for another few months.

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Congress takes a stand for neighborhoods with transit

Have you ever caught a bus right outside your office? Taken the subway to a ball game? Or ridden the light rail to go to the grocery store?

If you have, you know how convenient and inviting transit-oriented development can be.

This strategy—of building neighborhoods with homes, shops and offices near public transportation—can create significant economic development, generate new tax revenue for towns and cities, and lower housing and transportation costs for families. But these projects come with complex infrastructure challenges, and as a result need more than just bank support.

A new bill introduced today in Congress would help make transit-oriented development projects more financially feasible.

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What the GROW AMERICA Act would mean for smart growth and community development

Yesterday the Obama Administration sent Congress its proposal for a four-year federal transportation bill—the GROW AMERICA Act. The current bill, MAP-21, is set to expire at the end of September, and the new bill has implications for highway and rail construction as well as economic development programs like TIGER grants. How would these proposals impact community development and smart growth?

The good news
The bill includes several promising policies for smart growth advocates.

First and foremost, it would require cities and states to consider all modes of travel when designing federally funded roads, provisions very similar to those proposed in the Safe Streets Act. This strategy gets the most out of federally funded projects, makes sure a given project best meets a community’s needs, and supports neighborhoods with a wide range of transportation choices—all things that Smart Growth America supports.

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BUILD Act moves through committee

This morning, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted unanimously to pass the Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (BUILD) Act of 2013. The bill will go next to the full Senate for a vote.

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Smart Growth America congratulates Senator Carper on his appointment as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has announced the appointment of Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee. Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, issued this statement in response:

“We are pleased to hear of Senator Carper’s appointment as chairman of a key subcommittee helping to write the next version of our nation’s transportation law. Senator Carper brings a pragmatic approach that is coupled with a bold vision for a 21st century transportation system that will benefit communities across the country. Smart Growth America and our alliance of local elected officials, real estate developers and coalition of non-profits look forward to working with him on the upcoming transportation reauthorization, and helping him push for a bill that will allow our communities to make the investments that will improve the nation’s economic competitiveness.”


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Representative Camp releases his proposal for tax reform. What does it mean for smart growth?

Yesterday Representative Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced his proposal for comprehensive tax reform—and it has big implications for real estate and smart growth.

Each year Americans take billions of dollars worth of income tax deductions related to real estate. Things like the mortgage interest deduction and property tax deduction can represent big savings for a household—so big that they can influence taxpayers’ decisions about the type of home they buy. Even more credits are available to real estate developers, who can get tax breaks to help pay for things like redevelopment or the construction of low-income housing.

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House tax reform proposal a mixed bag on urban development issues

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) took the first step toward comprehensive tax reform yesterday and introduced a proposal that would have a mixed impact on communities’ efforts to grow in smart, economically efficient ways. Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, and Chris Leinberger, President of LOCUS, issued this joint statement in response:

“Above all, we’re glad Congress is finally tackling comprehensive tax reform. Hundreds of billions are currently spent through the tax code on housing and community development and much of this could be spent better than it is today. For anyone who wants to see these incentives achieve their maximum effect—helping Americans access good affordable housing choices in safe, stable, thriving communities, tax reform is a must.


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How could the next federal transportation bill better support smart growth real estate development?

Sound Transit in Seattle, WA was made possible in part by federal transportation funding. Photo by Flickr user Sean Marshall.

Real estate developers everywhere are familiar with the federal programs and regulations involved with building transit-oriented development. With the federal surface transportation bill due to expire early this fall, how could these programs and regulations be improved?

We want to hear from you. Join LOCUS for a conference call on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 3:00 PM EST to discuss federal transportation programs as they relate to smart growth development and how these programs can better support walkable, sustainable development.

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