The House and Senate are debating transportation today. What will they decide?

Right now, a small group of House and Senate leaders are negotiating their proposed transportation bills, and plan to bring a final bill before Congress in the coming weeks. Their decisions today have the potential to shape our communities for decades to come.

Can you take a moment to call your Senators and Representative? Let them know you want the conference committee to preserve the strong, bipartisan provisions contained in the Senate’s transportation bill MAP-21.

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As the House transportation bill languishes, there's still time to 'fix it first'

Crossposted from the Huffington Post.

Let’s look on the bright side of life.

By all accounts, you would be hard-pressed today to find anyone who views congressional inaction positively. But with the House of Representatives’ transportation package languishing amid opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, members of Congress at least have added time to address the bill’s severe shortcomings.

Our country’s roads and bridges are in desperate need of repair, so crafting economically beneficial legislation with bipartisan support should be lawmakers’ top priority. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica has already shown us what’s possible when business development and other interests meet, including language in the House bill that would spur development around transit stations and jumpstart real estate investment. With that kind of cooperative leadership as a model, the House would be wise to make the following revisions, showing voters that it’s the congressional branch with the capacity to get things done in an election year.

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Take action: Partnership for Sustainable Communities in Real Danger

The U.S. House of Representatives just stripped funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The Senate will consider funding for the Partnership next Thursday. NOW is the time to tell your Senators to maintain funding for this important program.

These are tough economic times, which makes it even more important to keep the innovative programs that put federal dollars to good use rebuilding our local economies, strengthening our communities, and creating necessary jobs.

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Blumenauer criticizes cuts to smart growth program

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) yesterday took aim at language in the U.S. EPA spending bill that would eliminate an agency program that helps communities develop with an eye toward environmental and economic sustainability.

The Smart Growth program would see its entire budget slashed in the Interior-EPA 2012 spending bill currently being debated on the House floor. The program offers technical and financial assistance to cities and towns looking to expand their infrastructure to emphasize livability and downplay driving and sprawl.

“Eliminating funding for Smart Growth programs would be devastating for communities across the country,” Blumenauer said in a statement. “Even more important in today’s tight budget environment, they leverage additional funding through public-private partnerships to help revitalize communities, grow businesses and create jobs.”

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House prepares to vote on bill that would eliminate funding for EPA Office of Smart Growth

Members of the House of Representatives are debating the Interior-Environment appropriations bill this week, legislation that would significantly cut funding the the U.S. Environmental Protection agency and completely eliminate funding for the Agency’s Office of Smart Growth. Smart Growth America strongly opposes these proposed budget cuts, and encourages Members of the House to vote “NO” on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill this week.

Tell your Representative to oppose these cuts: click here to send a letter now.

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EPA's Office of Smart Growth receives zero funding in 2012 budget proposal


On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee reported out the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012. The bill included severe cuts to programs administrated by the Environmental Protection Agency: the legislation proposes reducing the Agency’s budget for FY2012 by 18% – that in addition a 16% cut in 2011.

Help defend funding for the EPA’s Office of Smart Growth: click here to send a letter to your Representative.

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Help protect the EPA's Office of Smart Growth

The House Appropriations Committee just passed legislation that would eliminate funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Smart Growth. We need your help to tell your Representative to reject this proposed cut when the legislation is considered by the full House of Representatives.

Send a letter to your Representative: Don’t cut funds to the EPA’s Office of Smart Growth.

Towns across the country are making better economic and environmental outcomes through their work with the EPA’s Office of Smart Growth.

When Lincoln, Nebraska, needed a hand figuring how its zoning codes were impacting redevelopment efforts in the small city, it asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Smart Growth for guidance.

And when Bluffton, South Carolina, wanted help mapping future growth to make sure it would benefit the town’s economy for years to come, it asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Smart Growth for advice.

The Office of Smart Growth helps communities across the country: Help protect funding for this important program.

Smart growth strategies create the housing, transportation and business resources necessary to keep America competitive in a global, 21st century economy, and the EPA’s Office of Smart Growth is a crucial part of implementing these strategies. We need your help to make sure the Office of Smart Growth receives funding next year: send a letter to your Representative today.

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Smart growth news – July 6, 2011

Grant promotes Somerville smart growth
Boston Globe, July 5, 2011
Community Corridor Planning, a coalition of Somerville community organizations, has received approximately $220,000 over two years from the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance to promote strong neighborhoods around mass transit expansion. The alliance announced the award at a June 23 conference.

House GOP expected to ax transportation funds
The Washington Post, July 5, 2011
The next flash point in the debate over the nation’s will to live within its means may emerge this week as House Republicans present a long-term transportation bill expected to cut funding for highways and mass transit by almost one third.

Tide will guide Norfolk’s growth
The Virginian-Pilot (Va.), July 6, 2011
The trains have begun rolling through downtown Norfolk. The Tide, finally, is coming in. If all goes according to plan, light rail will begin transporting people next month on a route from Newtown Road to Norfolk’s medical complex.

Newburgh organizing land bank to take over empty buildings
Times Herald-Record (N.Y.), July 5, 2011
Newburgh is far from the only city trying to reclaim neighborhoods of empty buildings. Upstate legislators have pushed a bill to create land banks modeled after the planning tool used in famously empty cities, such as Flint, Mich. The bill cites the vacant neighborhoods of Buffalo as its justification but could just as easily list former industrial cities throughout the state. Newburgh has already begun to organize its own version of a land bank.

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Tell Congress: Don't balance the budget at the cost of our communities!

Leaders in the House of Representatives declared their plans this week to cut funds to many key programs that create jobs, strengthen communities and lay the groundwork to keep America competitive in the 21st century.

Tell the House of Representatives: Don’t balance the budget at the cost of our communities!

In a time of financial straits, Congress does need to cut wasteful and outdated programs – but it is unacceptable that effective programs that help rebuild our economy are being considered for elimination.

Among the cuts on the butcher’s block are funds that help our rural, suburban and urban communities create more housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools, support our local economies and protect the environment.

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Misguided Budget Cuts Proposed by House Leadership Take Aim at Programs Driving Economic Growth

Washington, DC – Leaders of the House of Representatives submitted their recommendations this week for the 2011 federal budget, including cuts to several programs that create jobs and drive economic growth. Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, issued the following statement in response:

“The budget proposed by the Republican House leadership takes aim at America’s middle class and attempts to balance the federal books on their backs. Many programs on the chopping block are meant to help this country’s economic recovery and cutting these programs is short-sighted and counterproductive. What’s worse, many of these cuts will take their highest toll on families and communities – precisely the people Congress should be working to help right now.

Leaders of the House of Representatives submitted their recommendations this week for the 2011 federal budget, including cuts to several programs that create jobs and drive economic growth. Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, issued the following statement in response:

“The budget proposed by the Republican House leadership takes aim at America’s middle class and attempts to balance the federal books on their backs. Many programs on the chopping block are meant to help this country’s economic recovery and cutting these programs is short-sighted and counterproductive. What’s worse, many of these cuts will take their highest toll on families and communities – precisely the people Congress should be working to help right now.

“Our leaders in Congress need to take a close look at the federal budget and cut programs that are wasteful, outdated and no longer effective in the 21st century economy. At the same time, however, Congress should protect and promote programs that help jumpstart the private sector, allow local leaders to respond to local economic needs and provide clear and effective outcomes.

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