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E-M:/ UPDATED ALERT: Sen. Comm. Vote on Developers' Sprawl/TakingsBill



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Enviro-Mich message from "DAVID ROSS" <ROSS@nwf.org>
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YOU CAN make a difference!  Calls are needed to Senators DeWine and Abraham.

On Sept. 14th, the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to mark-up (vote on) the companion House passed bill, H.R. 2372 The Private Property Rights Implementation Act, a developer-written "takings/property rights" bill aimed at smart growth and zoning.   

YOUR HELP is needed: Please call Senate Judiciary Committee members 
http://www.senate.gov/~judiciary/members.htm 
Senate Switchboard 202-224-3121 and especially Senators DeWine [R-OH], SPECTER [R-PA], ABRAHAM [R-MI] AND KOHL [D-WI]. 

Also please help generate (and FAX or e-mail me copies of) Editorials, Letters to the Editor, op-eds, and articles, especially in the states of Committee members.

For example, Senator DeWine voted in Committee for the prior version of the bill, but expressed serious concerns:

FROM: Committee Report - Senate Rpt. 105-242 - THE PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS IMPLEMENTATION ACT OF 1998

H.R.1534
MINORITY VIEWS OF SENATORS LEAHY, KENNEDY, BIDEN, KOHL, FEINSTEIN, FEINGOLD, DURBIN, AND TORRICELLI

The Senate Judiciary Committee moved the bill by a 10-to-8 party line vote. However, several Republicans joined all of the Democrats in voicing serious concerns about the legislation's impact on State and local decisionmaking. So far as we are aware, no genuine attempt has been made to address their fundamental concerns. As Senator DeWine stated: 

"This bill will impose tremendous burdens on local communities by providing such a new fast track to Federal court for property owners. I think we need to consider how this will affect local decision making, decisions that will be made by local zoning boards, decisions made by local officials. This bill would, in effect, leave local land use planners with two bad options--acquiesce to developers by making lenient decisions, or do whatever they think necessary to protect the local community and then face multiple suits in Federal court without having much negotiating ability with property owners." 

THANKS!

--Glenn

MORE BACKGROUND AND DETAIL:

NO Senate hearing is planned (see attached WORD letter from State & Local governments), even though AFTER the Senate considered the  prior version of this bill in 1997-98: 

1) The developers' organization that originally wrote the bill finally admitted that:  "This bill will be a hammer to the head of these [state and local] bureaucracies," declared Jerry Howard, the chief lobbyist for the National Association of Home Builders.  National Journal's CongressDailyAM (March 14, 2000).  Big developers would use premature, costly federal litigation as a hammer to coerce local communities into approving projects that will harm nearby homeowners and the environment.

2) The U.S. Supreme Court's 1999 City of Monterey decision made it clear that the bill's attempt to allow takings claims against localities to bypass state courts would ultimately prove to be an unconstitutional,  FUTILE gesture.  The Court ruled that a claimant "suffer[s] no constitutional injury" from local government action unless and until a state court first denies compensation.   Therefore, such claims cannot bypass state courts. See attached WORD tkgpts.

WHAT ELSE IS WRONG WITH H.R. 2372:

This federal bill is aimed at undermining environmental safeguards, zoning and smart-growth, and health, safety and morality safeguards (see WordPerfect attachment).

>> It would allow developers to bypass local zoning procedures and state courts and file premature federal lawsuits which unjustifiably claim that local land use decisions amount to "takings" of private property without just compensation.  To avoid lawsuits, small towns, counties and cities would be forced to design and approve projects for developers that would harm neighbors and the community.

 >>The bill would undermine hundreds of popular local initiatives that protect everyone by limiting and controlling growth, without "taking" any property rights.  For example, state courts have rejected "takings" challenges to smart growth limits and to controls on mining, factories, liquor stores and other harmful activities in residential neighborhoods. (See WORD JB etc. attachment).

For general background info see: http://www.nwf.org/nwf/lands/takings/ 
For information on the 18 cosponsors, text of bills, Floor debate: THOMAS http://thomas.loc.gov/ 

For quotes from opponents of H.R. 2372 (S 1028) see the WORD attachment

National Wildlife Federation's letter on HR 2372
http://www.nwf.org/takings/99hrltr.html 

In the last Congress, it passed the Judiciary Committee before a 52-42 Senate Floor vote fell 8 short of the 60 votes needed to break a bi-partisan filibuster in 1998 (S. 2271). 

This year, H.R. 2372, "The Private Property Rights Implementation Act" passed the House of Representatives (226 to 182). 

Thanks!  

--Glenn

Glenn P. Sugameli
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
www.nwf.org

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