Place, Race, and Equity Legislative Watch

Place, Race, and Equity Legislative Watch

February 2, 2017

Welcome to the Place, Race, and Equity Legislative Watch. We will be tracking proposed federal legislation by Congress that impact the fight to eliminate place-based inequality. 

Before proposed legislation becomes law, it is reviewed by an internal committee, then must pass a House vote, Senate vote, and finally be approved by the President. Through at least 2018, the Senate and House Majority are Republican. For context, according to the Library of Congress, the 114th Congress proposed 18,747 bills, resulting in 113 laws in the 2015-2016 session.

In this edition, we are covering:

  1. H.R. 482 Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017 (R-Gosar)
  2. S. 107 Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017 (R-Lee)
  3. H.R. 149 Housing Fairness Act of 2017 (D-Green)
  4. H.R. 202 Landlord Accountability Act of 2017 (D-Velasquez)

In addition to the inauguration of our country's 45th President, January also saw the swearing-in of the 115th Congress on January 3, 2017. Between January 3 and February 1, members of Congress have already proposed 1,536 bills. Of these, 16 are on the topic of Housing and Community Development. 

1. INTRODUCED: H.R. 482 Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017 (R-Gosar)

Arizona Representative Paul Gosar (R), along with 22 other Republican co-sponsors, seeks to invalidate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed by the Obama Administration to enable enforcement of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. In addition, Republicans want to defund and prevent public access to HUD's online data portal which provides information on racial disparities and disparities in access to affordable housing. This would make it more difficult to collect evidence of discrimination. Lastly, the sponsors of this bill want communities to self-regulate on the local level to enforce the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. Pushing enforcement to the local level will protect the status quo. This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. Its members include New Jersey Representative Thomas MacArthur (R) and Representative Josh Gottheimer (D).

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2. INTRODUCED: S. 107 Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017 (R-Lee)

Utah Senator Mike Lee (R), co-sponsored by Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R), has introduced an identical bill to H.R. 482. This bill has been referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Among its members is New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez (D). 

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3. INTRODUCED: H.R. 149 Housing Fairness Act of 2017 (D-Green)

Texas Representative Al Green (D), along with 5 other Democrat co-sponsors, wants HUD to measure discrimination in the housing market and to increase funding for enforcement and education at the local level. In addition, Democrats want the Secretary of HUD Ben Carson to affirm his obligations to uphold existing law and regulations related to fair housing. Lastly, the sponsors of this bill want to create a competitive grant program to support public and private nonprofit organizations to study the causes, effects, and prevalence of housing discrimination and segregation, as well as test solutions that would prevent or alleviate housing discrimination and segregation. As you can see, this bill is proposed as a point-for-point alternative to H.R. 482. This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. Its members include New Jersey Representative Thomas MacArthur (R) and Representative Josh Gottheimer (D).

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4. INTRODUCED: H.R. 202 Landlord Accountability Act of 2017 (D-Velasquez)

New York Representative Nydia Velasquez (D), along with 5 other Democrat co-sponsors, seeks to amend the Fair Housing Act to make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against current or potential tenants based on their use of a Section 8 housing voucher to pay rent. This would mitigate some of the reported causes of why housing vouchers go unused, primarily owner refusal to rent to voucher holders (Sard 2001). Recent reports of unusable housing vouchers come from across the country, including Dallas, Los Angeles, and Sioux Falls. This bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Its members do not include any New Jersey Representatives.

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