Senators in Hiding, Approve Federal Zoning!!!
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
HEROES AND ZEROES
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
202-228-0380 fax (See email link below)
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).
fax202-224-1273 (see email links below)
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 (see email links below)
Senator Lincoln Chaffee (Republican of Rhode Island).
fax 202-228-2853 (see email links below)
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:
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.
THANK YOU SENATOR INHOFE!!!
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.
Please share this information with everyone you know. Thank you.
American Land Rights Association - Land Rights Network
PO Box 400 - Battle Ground WA 98604
Fax: 360-687-2973 (see email and website below)
508 First St SE - Washington DC 20003
Fax: 202-543-7126 (see email below)
American Land Rights Association - Land Rights Network
Email American Land Rights Association
Email American Land Rights Association - Legislative Office
Email Senator James Inhofe
Email Ken Conally at Senator Jim Jeffords
Email Sean Donohue at Senator Jim Jeffords
Email Susan McCue at Senator Harry Reid
Email Nathan Taylor at Senator Harry Reid
Email David McCallum at Senator Harry Reid
Email David Griswold at Senator Lincoln Chaffee
Email Jeff Neal at Senator Lincoln Chaffee
Email Deborah Brayton at Senator Lincoln Chaffee