S. 975 – the Community Character Act

from Liberty Matters

April 25, 2002 - The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has scheduled S. 975, the “Community Character Act” for a vote in Thursday’s (April 25) committee hearing. 

The bill is a federal land use plan that would require state and local governments to “implement land management plans using model smart growth statutes, outlined in the 2,000 page Legislative Guidebook,” produced by the American Planning Association during the Clinton administration.  S. 975 provides for the following:

*        $50 Million to pay up to 90% of the cost for state and county governments to update their zoning plans, if they follow federal guidelines;

*        Requires local land use plans to "promote social equity."

*        To "conserve historic, scenic, natural and cultural resources."

*        “To guide, regulate, or assist in the planning, regulation, and management of (a) environmental resources; (b) public works infrastructure; (c) regional economic development; (d) current and future development practices; and (e) other activities related to the pattern and scope of future land use.”  In other words, control everything.

*        This bill violates the Tenth Amendment by awarding grant money for state land use planning based on federal requirements.

Please call or fax the Committee members, right away, to voice your opposition!

Chairman, Sen. James Jeffords, I-VT., ph. 202-224-3542 fax., 202 228-0776

Bill Sponsor, Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, D-RI ph. 202 224-2921 fax., 202 228-2853


Sen. Henry Reid, NV ph. 202 224-3542 fax. 202 224-7327

Sen. Max Baucus, MT ph. 202 224-2651 fax 202 228-3687

Sen. Bob Graham, FL ph. 202 224-3041 fax., 202 224-2237

Sen. Joe Lieberman, CT., ph. 202 224-4041 fax., 202 224-9750

Sen. Barbara Boxer, CA., ph. 202 224-3553 fax. 202 228-1338

Sen. Ron Wyden, OR., ph. 202 224-5244 fax., 202 228-2717

Sen. Thomas Carpenter, DE., ph. 202 224-2441 fax., 202 228-2190

Sen. hillary clinton, NY. ph. 202 224-4451 fax., 202 228-0282

Sen. Jon Corzine, NJ., ph.202 224-4744 fax., 202 228-2197


Sen. Bob Smith, NH., ph. 202 224-2841 fax., 202 224-1353

Sen. John Warner, VA., ph., 202 224-2023 fax., 202 224-6295

Sen. James Inhofe, OK., ph., 202 224-4721 fax. 202 228-0380

Sen. Chris Bond, MO., ph., 202 224-5721 fax., 202 224-8149

Sen. George Voinovich, OH., ph. 202 224-3353 fax., 202 228-1382

Sen. Michael Crapo, ID., ph., 202 224-6142 fax 202 228-1375

Sen. Arlen Specter, PA., ph., 202 224-4254 fax., 202 228-1229

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, CO., ph.,202 224-5852 fax., 202 224-1933

Ten Second Response
Fast Facts on the Environment

Bush Administration and House Democrats Oppose Bill to Restrict Federal Land Acquisition

DATE: April 16, 2002
BACKGROUND: H.R. 3962, the "Good Neighbor Act" was the subject of a U.S. House Forests and Forest Health subcommittee hearing held April 10, 2002. Under the bill's provisions, if more than 50 percent of a county's land is owned by the federal government no new acquisitions of land can be made by federal agencies unless the federal government sells some of its existing holdings. The federal agencies affected would be the National Park Service (NPS), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
Both the U.S. Forest Service and Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM) spoke in opposition to the bill at the hearing. Elizabeth Estill, representing the Forest Service, said in some cases, "we would lose the opportunity to obtain the land." Rep. Udall claimed the federal government owns less land than it did in the 1960s and therefore this issue is not a problem.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: Why is the Bush Administration's Forest Service advocating more government land control when it's private property owners who helped elect him?

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: While this bill would affect only 6 percent of all U.S. counties, it would help address problems caused by the loss of tax money to the local economies. The federal government only pays an average of 33 cents per acre in lieu of taxes to the counties while the owners of privately held land pay between $1 and $3 per acre. The federal government hasn't been paying its fair share. This is harming the economies of rural counties.

DISCUSSION: Under H.R. 3962, if the federal government owns between 50 percent and 65 percent of the land in a county, federal agencies are required to get the governor's approval and hold local hearings in the county before acquiring more land. If the federal government owns 66 percent or more of the county, the governor and county elected officials must approve the acquisition of additional land.
Rep. John Peterson (R-PA), sponsor of the bill, has disputed Rep. Udall's figures on federal land ownership, according to Environment and Energy News. Peterson claimed the NPS has increased its holdings 179 percent since 1964 and the FWS's holdings are up 285 percent.
Furthermore, the Bush administration has requested $45 million less than was funded in 2002 for payment-in-lieu of taxes (PILT)- a program that is to offset the loss of tax revenue to counties for the federal land in these counties. Many congressional members complain that this loss of income to counties has led to high unemployment in the rural areas.

by Gretchen Randall, Director
John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
The National Center for Public Policy Research
Contact the author at: 773-857-5086 or GRandall@nationalcenter.org
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 North Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613

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