Recent Baltimore HUD Settlement Confirms Opponents View of RhodeMapRI.
Last week, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino came to North Kingstown to explain that, despite what anyone tells you, HUD will indeed force municipalities to set aside local zoning ordinances. And not only did HUD force the zoning issue, it forced Astorino’s predecessor, as a local elected official, to propose legislation dictated by HUD. What’s more, Westchester is not alone. Last month’s announcement from HUD that Baltimore settled their case confirmed everything that both Mr. Astorino and RhodeMap RI opponents have been saying - when governments accept HUD money, including Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), in accordance with the Affirmatively Furthering Fair House (AFFH) requirement, local zoning laws do not apply!
The HUD press release on the Baltimore settlement itself states that the county had not “developed affordable housing in areas other than those that were concentrated by race and poverty”, requiring the county to build affordable rental housing, regardless of what the zoning laws say, within those areas. You can read the actual 21 page settlement agreement here.
Additionally, the HUD mandate that rental units be built with 3 or more bedrooms did not consider what local zoning laws actually allowed. You should also be aware of another significant item of note. The county was required to “proactively market the rental units to potential tenants who are least likely to apply…”, presumably indicating that the need may not be there in your municipality but you are obligated to go and find the tenants after you have built the units - supply created before there is demand.
And of course, like Westchester, the Baltimore elected official was given a HUD mandate to introduce and vigorously support specified legislation. It may sound extreme to have the federal government dictating the type of legislation that a local elected official must introduce, but that is all part and parcel of the strings attached to any HUD money.
As HUD goes, so goes RI legislators. Representatives Williams, Kazarian, O’Grady, Almeida and Hull have already introduced that same legislation, H 7599, as have Senators Metts, Crowley, Jabour, Ciccone and Pichardo with bill S 2706. Both bills have already been heard.
RhodeMap RI Saga Continues to Your Detriment.
The General Assembly, rather than shelving it, is purposefully and deliberately moving RhodeMapRI forward. That forward movement can be seen, with the HUD legislation, but also, with the refusal to allow a fair debate on the underpinnings of RhodeMap - affordable housing. H 7989 is Representative Maldonado’s bill to create a commission to study the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act. However, this commission will be inclusive of members who fully advocate for affordable housing and HUD's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) with no regard for what taxpayers can afford. There will be no taxpayer, no property owner or good government representation, even after specifically requesting that a member from this group be added. Will RI taxpayers ever be properly and fairly represented? Where is the legislative opposition?
Been There, Done That.
As was done with the process of developing RhodeMap, the process for developing legislation in support of RhodeMap will be touted by officials as open and engaging RI citizens, but will actually be stacked with all supporters and no opponents. This is disingenuous on the part of the General Assembly, House Municipal Government Chairman Craven and Speaker Mattiello. Remember that Speaker Mattiello said that RhodeMap would be shelved. He didn’t mean it then and now he’s making his true intentions official.
OSTPA thanks Representatives Price and Filippi for supporting property owner rights and taxpayers while fighting to amend this piece of legislation. Watch this clip of their remarks.
It is not lost on reasonable people that the argument made during the hearing to shut down the taxpayer friendly amendment to the bill was unbalanced and biased.
Unfortunately, this bill will be voted on the House floor, and in all likelihood pass, on Wednesday (see schedule below), without including a member on the commission to represent the taxpayers and property owners.
Take Action. Now.
Contact Speaker Mattiello and ask him why he said that RhodeMap RI was shelved, yet legislation continues unabated in support of it. Tell him you don’t want H 7989 to pass without a taxpayer/good government/property owner representative. Then contact your local representative and tell him to vote NO on H 7989.
After all, this IS about higher property taxes to subsidize the loss of taxpayer dollars on affordable housing developments and overriding local zoning ordinances, while stripping property owners of their rights. This will end badly. Speak up now.
Regulating Doctors Out Of Business - Is RI’s Pool of Doctor’s At Risk?
While OSTPA generally limits its review of legislation to financial and good government bills, we call your attention to a recent GoLocal article written by Dr. Debbi McInteer. The doctor writes about current legislation (H 7771) and (S 2497) in the General Assembly that she fears will threaten your access to RI doctors. Democratic Chair and Health Chair McNamara sponsored the bill in the House. If after reading the article you are concerned about access to healthcare professionals, contact Representative McNamara and let him know your thoughts on The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.
What Happened Last Week.
The House passed H 7551 last week. This bill removes the requirement for voter approval in cities and towns constructing school buildings, funded through bonds in the state’s School Building Authority Capital Fund, for projects prior to July 1, 2016.
What’s Coming Up In Hearings This Week.
Full Hearing Schedule Below.
On Tuesday, it will be the Senate’s turn to attack the small, but brightly shining star in the public education system, charter schools. Also on Tuesday, House Finance will be hearing bills to help save small businesses as they are passed down to the next generation.
On Wednesday, House Finance will hear a number of bills proposing to both increase state income taxes for targeted groups and reduce income taxes for targeted groups. Also of interest, recently introduced and quickly scheduled for a hearing in House HEW, bill H 8113 would create an academy for certain Providence and Central Falls students, complete with its own school committee. This bill will also be heard on Wednesday. We question how this will be paid.
On Thursday, Central Falls will again be in the spotlight in House Finance, this time to increase pension benefits. In the face of not one, but two state taxpayer bailouts of the Central Falls pension system, will this mean a third bailout?
Legislative Hearings 5/3/16 - 5/5/16
TUE, MAY 3
Attack on charter schools, requiring approvals from every city or town council of each sending school district, by ordinance or resolution.
Sponsors: Satchell, Gallo, Miller, Lombardi and Pearson
State funding of a district-charter compact between charter schools and traditional public schools.
Attack on charter schools, requiring new or existing charter school to obtain approval from city or town councils from sending districts.
Sponsors: Pearson, Satchell, Picard, Miller and Lombardi
Attack on state taxpayers requiring state to fund local share of charter schools when enrollment is greater than 5% from sending district.
Sponsors: Pearson, Picard, Nesselbush, Lombardi and Miller
Senate Health & Human Services Chairman Miller
Room, Senate Lounge, rise (4:30)
Creates socialized healthcare in the State of RI.
Sponsors: Goldin and Miller
Senate Judiciary Chairman McCaffrey
Room 310, rise (4:30)
Allows classified employee of the personnel appeal board to run for office and a state elective officer to be appointed as a classified employee to the personnel appeal board after resigning elective office.
Sponsors: Jabour, Crowley, Raptakis and Miller
The Land Development and Subdivision Review - Unified Development Review.
House Finance Chairman Gallison
Room 35, rise (4:30)
Increases unemployment benefits, at a time when the Governor is touting the ‘fake’ reduction in unemployment.
Sponsors: McKiernan, O’Brien, Carnevale, Marshall and Bennett
Exempts property of businesses, up to $5 million, from estate tax.
Sponsors: Morgan, Giarrusso, Price, Chippendale and Filippi
Exempts the value of a qualified small business, up to $5 million, from estate tax.
Sponsors: Morgan, Filippi, Giarrusso, Price and Chippendale
WED, MAY 4
Exempts any retirement income from state income tax.
Sponsors: Trillo, Costa, Serpa, O’Brien and McKiernan
Provides for a state income tax cut for retirees across the board in RI - $15,000 for retirement income.
Sponsors: Morgan, Roberts, Reilly, Price and Giarrusso
Bills to exempt military pensions from state income tax are in vogue this year.
Sponsors: McNamara, McEntee, Corvese, Malik and Azzinaro, Lancia, Malik, Azzinaro, Reilly, Costa, Carson, O’Brien, Shekarchi, Winfield, McEntee, Abney, Naughton and Trillo.
Increases state income tax on families left in the state with any kind of good paying jobs, $250,000 and above.
Sponsors: Regunberg, Amore, Maldonado, Handy and Almeida
Exempts from state income tax certain retirement benefits.
Sponsors: Craven, Shekarchi, O’Brien, McEntee and McKiernan.
Exempts teacher retirement from state income tax while residents of the state.
Sponsors: Reilly, Serpa, Naughton, Giarrusso and Shekarchi
Exempts first $25,000 of military pension from state income tax.
Sponsors: Malik, Azzinaro, Messier, McLaughlin and Costa
Increases a tax credit from 10% to 20% for low income wage earners, even when more money will be refunded than paid into the system. This is not a tax credit but rather, welfare and should be part of the budget, not a piece of separate tax legislation.
Sponsors: Slater, Diaz, Williams, Tanzi and Blazejewski
House Health, Education & Welfare Chairman McNamara
Room 101, 3:30 pm
Creates a new pseudo school district, replete with its own school committee, to combine certain Providence and Central Falls pupils. State taxpayers pay 100% of the Central Falls school district now. Will they pay 100% of this combined district?
Sponsors: Barros, Tobon, Almeida, Blazejewski and Maldonado
THU, MAY 5
House Finance Chairman Gallison
Room 35, rise (4:30)
Reverses the Speaker’s legislation that brought fire districts under budget commission oversight in an effort to keep Coventry residents from winning the fire fighter revolt.
Sponsors: Nardolillo, Chippendale, Roberts, Morgan and Nunes
Would ignore the bankruptcy court settlement and provide Central Falls with additional pensions benefits, with no reference to who pays for the increased pension benefits. (Shall we presume it will be the state taxpayer? Remember, state taxpayers have already footed the bill for not one, but two state bailouts)
Sponsors: McLaughlin, Messier, MacBeth, Casey, Amore
Removes the ability of budget commissions to make personnel decisions, defeating the purpose of the budget commission to streamline local government in order to avoid bankruptcy.
Sponsors: Phillips, Morin and Casey