federal policies
Federal Legislation Introduced in the 107th Congress Promoting Smart Growth:
Visit www.congress.gov to read the bill's legislative text, check the bill's status, and to see if your congressional representative is a cosponsor.  Click here to find your Representative and here for your Senator. 

Highlight: Smart Growth and the FY 2002 Bush Budget: Highlights of Key Programs (June 6, 2001)

The Bush Administration’s first budget proposal (FY 2002) is a disappointing missed opportunity to promote smart growth activities in America.  Although the budget does contain progress on smart growth in certain areas, it fails to follow through on many of the major proposals of the previous Administration and in some cases actually reduces the leadership role the federal government could play.  In general, this budget reflects Bush’s philosophy of turning over government activities to state and local officials.  In the case of smart growth, however, this approach neglects the partnership role of the federal government and fails to provide supporting resources for local efforts. 

Urban Sprawl and Smart Growth Study Act (H.R.1739)
Legislation has been introduced by Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) that would use the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to give local communities greater power in identifying, reviewing and addressing federal actions or projects that  may have an impact on urban growth and sprawl.  The "Urban Sprawl and Smart Growth Study Act" (H.R. 1739) would require federal agencies to do a more thorough NEPA analysis if a state governor or a lead local or tribal governmental   official requested such review due to the proposed project's impact on sprawl.  In addition, the bill also would direct the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the agency that implements NEPA, to study how well federal agencies evaluate sprawl impacts of federal actions in conducting their environmental reviews.

Bike Commuter Act (H.R. 1265)
The act would allow employees who bike to work the same financial incentives as car-poolers and mass transit users. The bill would change the Transportation Fringe Benefit of the tax code to include bicyclists who chose
to bike to work.  Currently, employers may offer a Transportation Fringe Benefit to their employees for commuting to work.  Employees who take advantage of this program may receive a tax exemption benefit totaling $175 for participating in qualified parking plans or $65 for transit, car-pool, and van-pool expenses. Employees may also opt to take cash compensation instead, which is subject to employment taxes. The Bike Commuter Bill would extend these same Transportation Fringe Benefits to employees who choose to commute by bicycle. 

Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act of 2001 (S. 350)
The Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act of 2001 was voted out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by a 15-3 margin on March 8, 2001.  S. 350, which is identical to S. 2700 that nearly became law in the 106th with 67 cosponsors, enjoys broad bipartisan support along with the endorsement of hundreds of public officials and organizations including the Trust for Public Land, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Association of Realtors.  Please click here for a summary of S. 350. 

Community Character Act of 2001 (H.R. 1433)
The Community Character Act authorizes $50 million annually for FY02 - FY06.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development would administer the program.  Individual grants of up to $1 million would be to states and $200,000 to tribes.  A minimum local match of ten percent would be required.  Grants could be used for developing land use planning legislation, supporting planning in states with updated enabling legislation, and planning efforts by multi-state regions or tribal governments.

Commuter Benefits Equity Act of 2001 (S. 217 & H.R. 318)
Raises the cap on the Federal employer-provided transit/van-pool benefit from $65 per month to $175 per month.  This will give the transit benefit parity with the Federal employer-provided parking benefit.  The bill also makes a minor modification in current law to allow Federal agencies to offer the parking benefit to employees who pay to park at commuter transportation facilities and travel to work via public transportation. 

Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA H.R. 701)
CARA will dedicate over $3 billion annually for various natural resource protection programs through the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) revenue royalty system.  CARA would fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at its fully authorized level of $900 million with a 50/50 split between the federal and state governments.  In addition to its significant support of the LWCF and coastal resources, CARA also funds the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program which supports urban parks and recreation areas.  CARA also provides critical funding for urban forestry, historical preservation, and other wildlife protection programs. 

Cooperative Landscape Conservation Act (H.R. 1381)
The Cooperative Landscape Conservation Act (H.R. 1381) would authorize $100 million a year for fiscal years 2002-2007 for acquiring conservation easements nationwide. The Federal share of the cost of acquiring a conservation easement with a grant under this section may not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of acquiring the easement.

High Speed Rail Investment Act of 2001 (S. 250)
This would enable Amtrak and other passenger rail companies to issue as much as $12 billion in bonds over the next 10 years, with investors receiving tax deductions rather than interest payments.  Nearly identical legislation passed the Senate last year with sixty-seven cosponsors, but was dropped from the final budget package.

Historic Homeownership Assistance Act (H.R. 1172)
This is identical to the previous "Historic Homeownership Act" introduced in the 106th Congress.  Features include a 20% federal income tax credit to homeowners who rehabilitate or buy a qualified historic house, up to a maximum credit of $40,000 for a principal residence.  Qualifying areas include single- and multi-family residences, condos, and co-ops listed on the National Register of Historic Places or on a state or local register.  Visit the National Trust for Historic Preservation to read a summary of the legislation and to see if your representative is a cosponosor.

Rural Rental Housing Act of 2001 (S. 652) 
The bill provides for the construction or rehabilitation of rental housing in rural areas.  It authorizes $250 million annually for a program to be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will fund states by formula based on each state's share of rural substandard units and rural households living in poverty.   States would be required to match the federal funds on a dollar for dollar basis.  Funds under this program would have to be used to serve low income households, those making under 80% of the area median income, with priority for very low income families, making less than 50% of the area median income.   Properties could receive no more than 50% of their funds from this program, and units would be required to remain affordable for 30 years. 

Congressional Caucuses & Task Forces:
Senate Smart Growth Task Force
U.S. Senators James M. Jeffords (R-VT) and Carl Levin (D-MI), on January 13, 1999 established the Senate Smart Growth Task Force, a bipartisan, multi-regional working group dedicated to exploring and promoting community-focused development policies.  To contact the Task Force, call Cameron Taylor at 202/224-0606. 

Livable Communities Task Force
Organized by Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer. This task force of the HouseDemocratic Caucus hopes to promote smart growth policies in an array of federal programs.  Click here to learn more about Rep. Blumenauer's Livability Agenda

House Sustainable Development Caucus
The Sustainable Development Caucus is a bipartisan Congressional caucus in the US House of Representatives formed at the beginning of the 105th Congress. Representatives Marty Meehan (D-MA) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) are co-chairs of the Caucus. Currently, the Caucus has more than 30 Republican and Democratic members.  The goal of the Caucus is to educate Congressional members and staff on what sustainable development is and where it is happening on the local level around the country. Members will then be able to use this knowledge when looking at legislation to ensure that federal policies promote rather than impede sustainability efforts.

Current Federal Law:
The Livable Communities Website contains information about federal agencies' efforts to assist communities to grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth. You will also find information on and links to specific programs, resources, guides, and tools offered by federal agencies to assist your community. 

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) was the first Federal highway bill to integrate smart growth concerns with federal transportation policy.  In 1998, the bill was reauthorized as the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). For more details, link to the Surface Transportation Policy Project's TEA-21 User's Guide.

Brownfields Tax Incentive. The Brownfields Tax Incentive is a provision included in the Taxpayer Relief Act, Pub. L 105-34, to spur the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields in distressed urban and rural areas. Click here for highlights of the tax incentive and EPA's Brownfields Initiative. For comprehensive information about brownfields-related legislative proposals, federal policies and more, link to the Northeast-Midwest Institute website. 

Taxpayer Relief Act. (Section 508. Treatment of Land Subject to a Qualified Conservation Easement.) The Taxpayer Relief Act Pub. L. 105-34 contains provisions that eases the inheritance tax burden on heirs who try to preserve family lands. Read "A Second Chance, New Tax Incentive to Protect Open Space" and view the tax law at the Land Trust Alliance's website.  You can also contact: Russ Shay, director of Public Policy, Land Trust Alliance, 1319 F St., NW, Suite 501, Washington, D.C. 20004; Tel: (202) 638-4725.

Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, Pub. L. 88-578, Sept. 3, 1964, 78 Stat. 897. When it passed in 1964, the Act established a funding source for both Federal acquisition of park and recreation lands and matching grants to state and local governments for recreation planning, acquisition and development. Click here to learn more about the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and here to view the LWCF Act of 1965

Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act, Executive Order 12072 and 13006. Two Executive Orders -- 12072 and 13006 -- require federal agencies to first consider locating in central business areas and in historic buildings and districts that best serve communities. E.O. 12072 was issued in 1976 under the Carter Administration and was affirmed when President Clinton issued E.O. 13006. For a copy of the Executive Orders and for more information about the program itself, click here to visit the Government Services Administration's Good Neighbor Program 

Further resources: In addition to the resources listed here, a number of other organizations are studying the impacts of Federal policies on land use and livable communities. Link to Sprawl Watch's list of National Organizations.


For specific information regarding state laws and policies, visit Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse's In The States page.

State of the State Addresses
January 2000

Following are summaries and links to full texts of each State of the State address that mentions sprawl or smart growth issues.

Governor Jane Dee Hull (R)
"One of the most important issues facing this legislature is growth.  The people want action.  Let's face it, we have fallen behind the public's expectations.  Growing Smarter, passed in 1997, is the vehicle to get us back on track.  Thanks to that land mark legislation, cities and counties are now planning with a more thoughtful eye toward our environment and quality of life."  For the full text, click on Hull.

Governor Gray Davis
"I am focused on traffic congestion in commuter corridors that affect the daily productivity and quality of life of Californians." For the full text, click on Davis.

Governor Bill Owens (R)
"The "Smart Growth: Colorado's Future' initiative recognizes the diversity that makes Colorado unique.  It is a specialized package of incentives -- not mandates -- geared toward saving our natural landscapes, promoting strong neighborhoods, and building our transportation future while providing economic opportunities for the entire state.  I urge the legislature to support and pass bills to promote the preservation of more open spaces and wildlife habitat."  For the full text, click on Owens.

Governor John Rowland
"Let's encourage this urban commitment...by expanding our urban brownfields program.  It's good economics and it's good for the environment." For the full text, click on Rowland.

Governor Thomas Carper
"One area of smart growth where the legislature has already made its mark is investing in open spaces and preserving farmland." For the full text, click on Carper.

Governor Roy Barnes
"We took an important first step toward dealing with Georgia's transportation, pollution, and land use problems by establishing the Georgia Regional Transporation Authority.  This year I hope we will build on that beginning by preserving greenspace in our fastest growing counties." For the full text, click on Barnes.

Governor Paul E. Patton (D)
"And while we're talking about our inner cities, let's talk about our society's policy of the throw-away city.  Just because we have abundant open space in the proximity of our cities that is the backbone of our agriculture economy, and is relatively cheap in one sense of the word, is no reason to ignore the long-term cost of random growth."  For the full text, click on Patton.

Governor Angus King (I)
"But our ace in the hole in terms of long-term economic prospects is the wonderful Maine environment- clean air and clean water, forest trails, mountains, lakes, the ocean, the New England village, viable downtowns; simply a great place to live, work and raise a family.  This is our competitive advantage that we can't let slip through our fingers. 

"But there are signs that we may be squandering this asset- congestion and commercial sprawl at the gateways to our spectacular natural resources; residential development leapfrogging to the headwaters of lakes, slowly turning them algae green..." For the full text, click on King.

Governor Parris Glendening (D)
"Finally, during this session we must continue our work protecting Maryland's environment and quality of life.  We must step up the fight against sprawl and over-development.  Just two years ago, with your help, we took the first courageous steps to protect our environment by stopping sprawl.  Today, Maryland is hailed as a national -- even international -- model in the Smart Growth/Anti-Sprawl movement."  For the full text, click on Glendening.

Governor Paul Celluccii (R)
" I am announcing tonight that I will issue an executive order directing state agencies, whenever they award discretionary grants, to give priority to those communities that are making good faith progress creating new housing.

"And to help cities and towns build more housing, while preserving the character of their communities, the executive order will make $9 million available over the next two years for community planning.  This money will be used to give planning grants to cities and towns to find ways to make more housing available while also preserving open space."  For the full text, click on Celluccii.

Governor John Engler (R)
" Our strategies like the Clean Michigan Initiative are improving our environment.  One successful strategy has been to reuse old industrial sites.  Tonight, I propose we build on our past success and spur even more redevelopment in our core cities.  Let's pass a new Brownfield Redevelopment Act as part of a broader core cities strategy.  This new measure will allow developers to invest in blighted areas and reuse old buildings that are not necessarily contaminated.  Recycling more abandoned urban sites will reduce pressure to develop in rural areas without services." For the full text, click on Engler.

New Hampshire
Governor Jeanne Shaheen
"As we grow, we must preserve whatis special about New hampshire, the traditional character of our communities our forests and farms, and our hitoric buildings and downtowns." "State government should serve as a role model for smart growth." For the full text, click on Shaheen.

New Jersey
Governor Christine T. Whitman
"With help from this adminstration and this Legislature, we have seen New Jersey turn some of these so-called borwnfields into vertiable gold mines.  They've helped city residents gain jobs and enjoy a higher quality of life," "As we save farms, let's also salvage the urban acres that could be fertile ground for new homes or business," For the full text, click on Whitman.

New York
Governor George Pataki (R)
"And we will build upon our historic progress on open space conservation. On Long Island, I am delighted to say that we have nearly reached our goal of protecting three-quarters of the land in the core preservation area of the Pine Barrens.  And right here in the Capital District, we've made outstanding progress in protecting the Albany Pine Bush.  With your support, the Preserve has grown to 2,400 acres.  Over the next two years, we will expand the Preserve to 3,000 acres, bringing greater ecological stability to this unique area." For the full text, click on Pataki.

Governor Bob Taft (R)
"This time last year, I announced the creation of the Urban Revitalization Task Force.  This group held hearings in 16 cities and heard from more than 300 citizens.  Every mayor spoke to the importance of reclaiming abandoned industrial sites.

"Therefore, my first priority will be to dramatically improve the state's role in brownfield redevelopment.  For the full text, click on Taft.

Governor John Kitzhaber (D)
"When we talk about Oregon's greatness, we always talk about our public beaches.  We talk about our land use planning program and our protected farm and forestlands and open spaces.  And that has given this state more options, more choices in how we grow and develop than probably any other state in America."  For the full text, click on Kitzhaber.

Governor Tom Ridge
"We intend to preserve 100 farms in 100 days, from the Farm Show to Earth Day." For the full text, click on Ridge.

Rhode Island
Governor Lincoln Almond
"We know that open space is precious so let's safegaurd it." For the full text, click on Almond.

Governor Michael Leavitt (R)
"There are other ways to extend our vision and extract guarantees from this era of possibility.  Wise growth planning is one way.  That encompasses a new ethic of water conservation, open space preservation and the efforts of Envision Utah to foretell our future needs for housing recreation and livable communities."  For the full text, click on Leavitt.

Governor Howard Dean
"Today 19 percent of our land is conserved with either easements or public ownership; I hope that by 2100 that figure will be 30 percent." For the full text, click on Dean.

Governor James Gilmore III
"Long-term vision means less congestion.  We need to evaluate where we are and where we need to go with transportation in Virginia," For the full text, click on Gilmore.