24 May 2010

Committee action, May 24: SB 762, HB 1284


SB 762 by Sen. Sharon Weston Broome would make as a violation discrimination in land use and permitting decisions against people who want affordable housing built (defined as affordable to people between 60 and 80 percent of median family income for the area). She said not enough affordable housing was being built for people, so therefore some kind of effort had to be made to encourage the building of these kinds of units.

Rep. John LaBruzzo wanted to know how the bill would allow those who wanted to buy housing do that. He wanted to know whether that would mandate such housing and who would block such housing. Apparently the bill would not mandate and local governments would permit. LaBruzzo then asked why developers would not do this on their own. He was concerned whether this would create a mandate.

Rep. John Schroder wondered whether this was enforceable. He didn’t understand that if it was directed at local government, what would happen if violated. Broome said with developers going to local governments for permitting, it would provide an opportunity for additional reminding, and other statutes addressed penalties. She also had an amendment to clarify targets, which actually had the effect of rewriting the bill.

Rep. Nancy Landry thought the bill was protecting an additional class – working people – and she didn’t think there was a compelling interest or past history of discrimination against them to justify the bill. She also noted that the bill as amended no longer would not declare as an automatic violation the desire not to concentrate a lot of such housing, and could not support the bill.

House Civil Law and Procedure Committee Chairman Rep. Tim Burns said because of the newness of the amendments and given the press of time, it might be best to voluntarily defer the bill. Broome said she could live with that and get with some committee members in the meantime. Burns motioned for this and it was approved by acclamation.


HB 1284 by Rep. Girod Jackson would set targets for disadvantaged business enterprises for public entities in the state who bid for any contracts with federal funds. He told the House Appropriations Committee. He said the state did not have to follow any guidelines of the federal government in this regard, and thought it would be a negative in the eyes of the federal government if an audit was done.

Rep. Simone Champagne said in her local government experience federal regulations are being abided by. He said local governments with numerical goals were blaming it on the state for not having to follow them. She said then the Legislative Auditor, not legislation, was the answer.

Rep. James Armes wondered how this would work with matching funds from the state. Jackson said it wouldn’t make a difference since it was goals, not mandates, being worked with. Chairman Rep. Jim Fannin observed he thought a lot of this was being done in following federal law. Jackson insisted the pass-through aspect masked this, which didn’t seem to convince Fannin. Rep. Charmaine Stiaes said that sometimes the procedures aren’t followed, so the state telling it had to be done increased chances of compliance instead of having to go back and clean up. But Fannin saw no enforcement difference with the bill that what currently existed, and suggested adding enforcement would make it different.

Stiaes moved to pass but Champagne offered a substitute to defer. On the motion to defer, it passed 11-3 with only Reps. Patricia Smith, Stiaes, and Patrick Williams voting nay.

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