[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Urge Spence Abraham to Oppose Takings Bill Today!



-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Enviro-Mich message from "TIM EDER" <EDER@nwf.org>
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

ALERT ! ALERT ! ALERT !

All Michigan readers of Enviro-Mich should call Senator Spence Abraham today to urge him to oppose the Takings bill. 

The phone number for his Washington office is 202-224-4822.

Abraham is a key republican who could help stop this disastrous legislation. Urge him to vote against ending debate and urge him to join Senator John Chafee (R-RI) who is urging the Majority Leader not to bring the bill to the floor.

The bill (HR 1534) is opposed by Mi. Atty General Frank Kelly and 39 of his fellow AG's., the National Governors Assoc., the National Assoc. of Counties, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, virtually every other state and local government organization because it attacks the ability of local units of government to uphold zoning and land use decisions. 
 
The action alert below from Glenn Sugameli of NWF's DC office provides additional detail.

******* 

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO STOP A FEDERAL TAKINGS/ PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS BILL.
Please contact your Senators TODAY (Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121), and ask them to oppose the takings bill, H.R. 1534, which was passed by the House of Representatives and then was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee under its House number as *The Citizens Access to Justice Act of 1998.*  The Senate Judiciary Committee report on the bill has just been filed and staff for Chairman Hatch (R-UT) and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) said that H.R. 1534 will come to the Floor Friday July 10th or next week.  

The National Association of Home Builders, which drafted the bill, has launched a radio ad campaign to back up its massive PAC contributions to federal candidates.  Senators need to hear from you and your local elected officials now.

Strongly urge: (1) that Senators vote against ending a planned filibuster and vote against the pending takings/property rights bill; and (2) especially for Republican members-- urge that they join Sen. Chafee (R-RI) and others in asking Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) not to bring the bill to the Senate Floor. 

	The proposed manager*s amendment to H.R. 1534 does not address the fundamental problems with this unworkable bill, which is the first federal *property rights* bill to target local zoning and planning.  Congress should not be considering a federal bill that would allow developers to bypass state courts, curtail the process for local resolution of land use and zoning disputes, and file premature and expensive cases against towns, counties and cities in federal court.

	H.R. 1534 threatens many current town, city and county land use and zoning processes that safeguard people and property.

Because H.R. 1534 is strongly opposed by virtually all state and local government organizations, every Senator may be receptive to grassroots arguments that the bill should not be brought to the Floor.  Please tell me of any oral or written feedback. 

I am appending a sample letter and the National Wildlife Federation*s latest action alert on the bill for more information. 

Glenn Sugameli
Senior Counsel
National Wildlife Federation
1400 16th Street, N.W., Suite 501
Washington, D.C. 20036-2266
202-797-6865
FAX 202-797-6646
sugameli@nwf.org	
_________________________________________

July 8, 1998

The Honorable 
Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.   20510

Dear Senator :

	We strongly urge: (1) that you oppose the pending takings/property rights bill; and (2) that you join Sen. Chafee (R-RI) and others in asking Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) not to bring the bill to the Senate Floor.  This bill was passed by the House of Representatives over bi-partisan opposition and then was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee under its House number as H.R. 1534 *The Citizens Access to Justice Act of 1998.*  

	The proposed manager*s amendment to H.R. 1534 does not address the fundamental problems with this unworkable bill, which is the first federal *property rights* bill to target local zoning and planning.  Congress should not be considering a federal bill that would allow developers to bypass state courts, curtail the process for local resolution of land use and zoning disputes, and file premature and expensive cases against towns, counties and cities in federal court.

	H.R. 1534 threatens many current town, city and county land use and zoning processes that safeguard people and property.  This bill targets local planning and zoning and is strongly opposed by 40 state Attorneys General, the National Association of Counties, National Governors Association, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, virtually every other state and local government organization, and the state and federal judiciary.  Other opponents include major religious groups, including the United States Catholic Conference and the National Council of Churches, national and local historic preservation, planning, labor, and conservation groups, and newspaper editorial boards throughout the country.

	The New York Times editorialized against Undermining Local Government: *[The bill] is a dangerous piece of work that would threaten local zoning laws, reshape time-honored principles of federalism and make Federal judges the arbiters of land-use decisions everywhere.  It would be a dream come true for developers but a nightmare for rational community planning. . . [T]he threat of an expensive Federal lawsuit by a well-heeled developer could pressure local officials into decisions that help the developer but harm the larger interests of the community.* (October 22, 1997).

	H.R. 1534 would overturn established Supreme Court precedent by literally turning local zoning disputes into federal cases.  Developers could bypass local zoning appeals and state courts by filing premature lawsuits against local governments directly in federal court, alleging that community land use decisions result in a *taking* of private property.  The threat of premature, expensive federal court lawsuits would pressure towns, cities, and counties to abandon fundamental safeguards.  Especially for small towns and counties, this would exert powerful pressure to approve inappropriate projects such as corporate hog farms or toxic waste dumps in residential or floodplain areas.

	This bill would benefit large developers at the expense of average homeowners, and would threaten local zoning, public health and environmental safeguards.  We strongly urge you to do everything that you can to ensure that this radical bill not be brought to the Senate Floor.

							Sincerely,
 

_________________________________________

NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION EMAIL ALERT
A dangerous House-passed bill would grant developers special rights and endanger basic environmental protections for your family and property.  Senate action may take place by the end of July.   Will you contact your Senators and urge them to oppose H.R. 1534 before it reaches final passage?

						  July 7, 1998

Dear Friend:

	Industry forces that wish to pursue profits at the expense of health, the environment, and safety protections, have failed in their attempts over the last few years to overturn our most fundamental environmental laws.  Your protests made that possible.  But backdoor efforts to undermine these laws in the name of  *speed* and *efficiency* pose their own threat to the nation's air, water and wildlife.

	The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a takings bill under its House number, H.R. 1534.  The bill would give developers and industry new avenues to undermine a wide variety of local, state and federal safeguards.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) helped draft the bill to advance its development-at-any-cost agenda. 

Senate bill paves a *by-pass* around local community protections

  	H.R. 1534 would radically alter the procedures for private property-based court challenges to protections for people, property and the environment.  The result would favor developers at the expense of neighboring homeowners' property rights and the well-being of communities.  While the bill targets  *procedure,* the real-world threat posed by these radical changes is very real. 

	H.R. 1534 would give developers powerful legal weapons to challenge local, state and federal environmental laws.  Here*s what would result:

*	Weaker environmental protections -- This bill would radically undermine the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and other basic environmental laws by allowing the Court of Federal Claims to re-open settled issues and to strike down federal statutes and regulations nationwide.  This would create conflicting court rulings and major legal uncertainty, as well as ample opportunities for industry lawyers to create favorable new precedents.  As a result,  neighboring homeowners could no longer rely on the protection of prior court rulings upholding limits on mining damage or pollution.

*	Intimidation of local governments -- The bill would also allow developers to bypass local zoning appeals and state courts by filing takings claims against local governments directly in federal court.  This would undercut public influence in local land use decisions.  And, as Vice President Gore has said, *this bill would give developers a new club to wield in their negotiations with local officials and citizens groups -- the threat of premature and costly litigation in federal court ....*  For small towns and counties especially, this would exert powerful pressure to approve inappropriate proposals such as toxic waste dumps and adult businesses in residential areas.

*	Unnecessary litigation and bad court decisions -- Under the bill, developers could sue in federal court without adequately seeking to resolve their disputes with local officials through local procedures.  The result would be far more litigation and far less incentive for developers to work with local planning officials to achieve workable compromises.  Further, judges would lack sufficient information about acceptable alternative development proposals and would be unable to make informed decisions. 

	For all of these reasons, H.R. 1534 would subvert laws that protect neighbors, the environment and the public.

How you can help

	On February 26, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted for a version of H.R. 1534, which has already been approved by the House of Representatives.  NAHB is pushing hard for a full Senate vote on H.R. 1534, and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) has placed H.R. 1534 on the list of bills the Senate may vote on by the end of June.  Your Senators need to hear from you now, if we are to stop this bad bill. 
	
	Please ask your Senators to oppose any consideration of H.R. 1534 or any similar property rights bills.  Remind them that the bill would benefit large developers at the expense of average property owners, and would threaten local zoning and weaken federal environmental and public health safeguards.

	Here*s where to write:

	The Honorable                                 
	United States Senate 
	Washington, DC   20510

	Or, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

						Thank you for your help,

						Mark Van Putten
						President and CEO

MVP:gs

P.S.  Takings bills like H.R. 1534 attack environmental safeguards and threaten the property rights of all of us.  Please contact your Senators today!


==============================================================
ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
http://www.great-lakes.net/lists/enviro-mich/

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"
==============================================================