Senators in Hiding, Approve Federal Zoning!!!

from American Land Rights Association - Land Rights Network
PO Box 400 - Battle Ground WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 - Fax: 360-687-2973 - Email:

Washington, D. C. - March 26, 2002 - The United States Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW Committee) yesterday, April 25, met  IN  SECRET  and voted to approve S.  975, the Federal Zoning Act!!!

 Because of growing public opposition to S.975, the committee leadership  decided to  HIDE  from the public and meet in a closed session!!!!!!

 This is the  SAME  committee that hid from the public last December and approved S. 990, the "Son of CARA" land acquisition bill.  When the  public doesn't like what they are doing, the EPW Committee shuts out the public and votes in secret!

 HOWEVER, this time around, information has leaked out about how it happened.  Here is the story of this disgraceful episode, along with  ACTION  ITEMS  below:
 8:00am, Thursday, April 25:

 The general public and lobbyists start lining up outside the door of Room 406 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  This is where the EPW  Committee gave public notice several days ago that the "markup"-the final debate and committee vote-on S. 975 would be held, at 9:30am that morning.

 For controversial bills like S. 975, it is usually a good idea to get in line early, because there is sure to be a big crowd and there is limited seating. 9:15am:

 A committee staff person announces to the people in line that the  committee "markup," due to start at 9:30, has been moved.  He was asked  WHERE and said, "I don't have room number."  He was asked  WHEN  and said, "I don't know, sometime after 10 o'clock."  He was asked  WHY  and said, "The Senators are busy."

 He finally admitted that the meeting was being moved to a small office in a part of the Capitol Building that was  CLOSED  to the general public!!!   But he still insisted that it was a public meeting, just being held in a room that was closed to the public.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, this kind of doubletalk does go on in Washington, DC on a daily basis!

 The EPW Committee, at about 10:30am, met  IN  SECRET  and voted to approve
 S. 975, the Federal Zoning Act.  The vote was twelve in favor to seven against.  We were able to get ahold of the roll call vote, even though the committee leadership wanted to keep it secret and hide their actions from the public.  Here it is:

 TWELVE  IN  FAVOR  of  S. 975:

 Senator Jim Jeffords, Vermont
 Senator Harry Reid, Nevada
 Senator Max Baucus, Montana
 Senator Bob Graham, Florida
 Senator Joe Lieberman, Connecticut
 Senator Barbara Boxer, California
 Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon
 Senator Tom Carper, Delaware
 Senator Hillary Clinton, New York
 Senator Jon Corzine, New Jersey
 Senator Lincoln Caffee, Rhode Island
 Senator Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania

 SEVEN  OPPOSED  to S. 975:

 Senator Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma
 Senator Bob Smith, New Hampshire
 Senator John Warner, Virginia
 Senator Kit Bond, Missouri
 Senator George Voinovich, Ohio
 Senator Mike Crapo, Idaho
 Senator Pete Domenici, New Mexico


 FORTUNATELY,  there are some  HEROES  who tried to stop this sham and defend local government and private property rights.

 NUMBER  ONE  HERO:  Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma.  Inhofe objected to
 the last minute switch from open to the public to a secret session, but  was overruled.  He was also the only Senator who filed a written statement objecting to S. 975.

 ACTION  ITEM:  Please  THANK  Senator James Inhofe!!!  See his excellent
 statement below.  Here is his contact information:

 Senator James Inhofe
 453 Russell Senate Office Building
 Washington, DC 20510
 202-224-4721 phone
 202-228-0380 fax


 Here are the three Senators who conspired to jam S. 975 through the Environment and Public Works Committee in secret and attempted to avoid having a roll call vote in order to hide their actions.  Their top level staff people who are responsible for this sham are listed here.

 ACTION  ITEM:  Tell these three Senators and their top staff what you think about the federal government mandating local zoning codes, and what you think about them canceling the public meeting at the last minute and holding the votes in secret!!!

 Senator Jim Jeffords (Independent of Vermont).
 Phone 202-224-5141, fax 202-224-1273,

 Senator Harry Reid (Democrat of Nevada). Reid is  THE  WORST  of them.  Reid led the charge to sneak the "Son of CARA" Land Grab bill out of the EPW committee in secret last December, and he is primarily responsible for arranging this secret meeting as well.
 Phone 202-224-3542, fax 202-224-7327,,

 Senator Lincoln Chaffee (Republican of Rhode Island).
 Phone 202-224-2921, fax 202-228-2853,,

 You may call any Senator at the Capitol Switchboard -- (202) 224-3121 or
 the temporary FREE NUMBER  (800) 648-3516.

 Statement of Senator James Inhofe on S. 975, Federal Zoning Act:

 INHOFE:  I would like to express my strong opposition to S. 975. I believe this bill raises potential constitutional questions under the Tenth Amendment, where powers not expressly granted to the federal government in the Constitution, like zoning and land-use decisions, are reserved to the local and state governments.  This legislation threatens to usurp
local jurisdictions ability to make their own decision on economic development, housing and transportation - all of these being unique to different localities.

 By voting this legislation out of committee we are saying it is "OK" for  the federal government to get involved in state, local and tribal land  use planning and further more local land use planning is not important. This sets a dangerous precedent.

 I have grave concerns with the notion of the Secretary of Commerce evaluating a state's need for federal funds and then prescribing the criteria for the content of the state plan, an area where the Secretary of Commerce can claim no particular expertise or authority.

 In the "findings" section of this bill it states that "comprehensive land use planning and community development should be supported by the Federal, State, and tribal governments." There is no mention of support by local governments.  For those of us who were local elected officials we must recognize that successful community development and comprehensive planning needs to be supported and driven by the local government. As a former  Mayor this type of statement concerns me deeply.

 The federal government should respect the authority and expertise of  these  localities to make land-use decisions without dangling a "carrot" so  that  they adopt planning legislation acceptable to the federal government.


 Current situation:

 S. 975 is now ready to go to the Senate floor, to be voted on by the entire Senate.  It is unclear when that may happen.  It will be at least a few weeks, and may be put off for several months, depending on how strong support and opposition becomes.


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