Place, Race, and Equity Legislative Watch: June Edition
Welcome to the Place, Race, and Equity Legislative Watch, which tracks proposed federal legislation by Congress that impact the fight to eliminate place-based inequality.
Between January 3 and May 26th, members of Congress have proposed 5,149 bills and resolutions. Of these, 40 are on the topic of Housing and Community Development. In that time, 16 bills have become law.
Note: Senator Lindsey Graham has stated, “For all practical purposes the political process will be ground to a halt by these allegations,” in reference to the ongoing allegations against President Trump’s alleged interference with the ongoing FBI investigation into Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The House intelligence committee, Senate intelligence committee, House oversight committee and Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism are all currently conducting independent investigations on this issue
In this edition, we are covering:
1. INTRODUCED: H.R.1498 - End Racial Profiling Act of 2017
Representative John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), along with 69 Democratic cosponsors seek to elimination racial profiling by law enforcement. Racial profiling is defined as routine or spontaneous investigatory activities by law enforcement agents, such as traffic stops and frisks, that have a disparate impact on individuals based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion, in addition to gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The bill asks federal, state, and local law enforcement agents to cease existing practices that permit racial profiling, to receive training on racial profiling issues, and to collect data to evaluate compliance. In the case of non-compliance, federal grants will be withheld. In addition, the bill seeks to fund a 2-year data collection demonstration project with five law enforcement agencies. The City of Newark Police Department has already been mandated by a federal judge to collect data on the racial demographics of those stopped by police.
This bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, which has in turn referred it to 2 subcommittees: Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice and Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. Both Subcommittees include no members from the State of New Jersey.
2. INTRODUCED: H.R.1940 - Right to Rent Act of 2017
Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), along with 14 Democratic cosponsors, seeks to allow homeowners of moderate-value homes who are subject to mortgage foreclosure proceedings to remain in their homes as renters. As long as the property is a single-family home and the mortgagor pays the fair market rent for the property to the owner of the foreclosed property, the former owner of the property is allowed to reside in the property on a month-to-month lease until the property is sold. If passed, this bill will help reduce the rate of vacant properties and zombie foreclosures, where banks issue foreclosure notices but never take financial or legal responsibility for the property.
State legislation in New Jersey to watch:
1. S 677 has been passed by the Assembly and is now being read by the Senate. It requires racial and ethnic impact statement for certain bills and regulations affecting sentencing.
2. S3015 was passed, which requires study of program allowing community service in lieu of paying motor vehicle surcharges.
3. A4765 was introduced, which requires DCA to continuously maintain open enrollment period for federal Housing Choice Voucher Program pre-applications.