05.17.2016 0

‘Obamazoning’ can be stopped in Senate this week

By Rick Manning

As originally published at http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/280079-obamazoning-can-be-stopped-in-senate-this-week

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is leading an effort this week in the Senate to protect local zoning authority from one of President Obama’s most ambitious power grabs (which comes under the guise of fair housing).

The Lee amendment to the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (HUD) appropriations bill before the Senate would defund Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation, which allows federal bureaucrats simply relying upon Census maps to impose zoning decisions on local governments.

The usurpation of local urban planners and elected officials who have spent years — and in some cases, lifetimes — working to create town, city and county plans that make sense, balancing infrastructure needs (schools, water, sewer, roads etc.) and growth concerns along with commercial and green space priorities, is outrageous. Unfortunately, the idea that someone armed with a racial and income data map in Washington can helicopter in and disrupt this planning and dictate where Section 8 housing should be located is already taking root in places like Westchester County, N.Y.; Baltimore County, Md.; and Dubuque, Iowa.No one is for housing discrimination, and the goal of equalizing opportunity through this federal government overreach sounds high-minded. However, as former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and I wrote in a FoxNews.com opinion piece:

The irony is that the purported value of helping the disadvantaged by exposing them to better services in other communities was shown to be a dismal failure in a 2011 HUD study that is characterized as, “the most ambitious randomized social experiment ever conducted by HUD.”

At the conclusion of the fifteen year study, more of those who HUD hoped to helped were on food stamps than before, their kids did the same in school, and the numbers on welfare did not change. To quote the study, there were “no better educational, employment or income outcomes.”

Let me repeat that last line quoting the HUD study: There were “no better educational, employment or income outcomes.” I’ll leave it to readers to surmise why the Obama administration chose to push ahead on this ill-conceived regulation in the face of this devastating result.

Supporting the Lee amendment is supporting common sense and standing up for local control over zoning. Obama’s position is that the federal government can make outcome-based decisions from afar, based on maps showing where people have chosen to live. And their proposed solution fails to make the lives of the people it was supposedly helping better.

The House of Representatives has already voted in favor of the exact language now offered by Lee in the Senate. This may be one of the few opportunities in this election year for Congress to vote to restore its Article 1 rights, and few issues represent as broad of an executive branch overreach than this HUD regulation that has the potential to impact virtually every household in America.

Americans for Limited Government strongly urges the Senate to pass Sen. Lee’s amendment to stop the funding of this ill-conceived regulation.

Manning is president of Americans for Limited Government.

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