|Last week, the ASLA government affairs team swung into action, activating the ASLA Advocacy Network to help defeat an amendment to eliminate funding for green infrastructure projects for highways and other rights-of-way, which are part of the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The amendment, offered by Representative Vicky Hartzler (MO) during floor consideration of the House Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill failed by a vote of 188 to 237 due to ASLA efforts.
Through the Advocacy Network, 285 members contacted their House Representative to urge their legislator to oppose the Hartzler amendment, outlining the enormous impact it will have on vegetation management practices on highway practices and the landscape architecture profession.
The ASLA Government Affairs team also coordinated its efforts with other organizations within the green infrastructure community (Water Environment Federation, National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), and American Rivers) to put pressure on legislators to oppose the Hartzler amendment. A special thank you to advocates who used the Advocacy Network to contact their legislator to oppose the Hartzler amendment!
Shortly after the defeat, the House finalized the fiscal year 2015 THUD funding bill, which passed by a 229 to 192, mostly party-line vote. The $52 billion House majority bill offers an increase of $1.2 billion above fiscal year 2014 enacted levels. The bill include:
- $17.1 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation, a $727.3 million decrease from fiscal year 2014 enacted levels.
- $40.3 billion from the Highway Trust Fund, equal to the fiscal year 2014 enacted funding level and is contingent on the enactment of the MAP-21 reauthorization legislation.
- $100 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, $500 million below fiscal year 2014 level. The House majority bill only allows TIGER funds for projects that address critical transportation needs such as road, highway, bridge, port and railroad construction and improvement. ASLA is working with other advocacy organizations and the U.S. Senate to ensure TIGER funds will be allowed for all multimodal uses in the final enacted bill.
- $3 billion for Community Planning and Development Program, effectively equal to fiscal year 2014 funding level.
This week, the Senate is scheduled to consider its fiscal year 2015 THUD spending legislation. The bi-partisan effort provides $54.4 billion for transportation, housing, and urban development programs for the upcoming fiscal year. The Senate bill includes:
- $18.1 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation, a $536 million increase from fiscal year 2014 enacted levels.
- $40.3 billion for the Highway Trust Fund, equal to the level enacted for fiscal year 2014 and is contingent on the enactment of the MAP-21 reauthorization legislation.
- $550 million for the TIGER grant program, $50 million below fiscal year 2014 enacted level.
- $3.02 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, which provides grants to states and local governments to support housing and economic development projects in urban and rural communities across the country. These funds are used to address an array of needs, such as revitalizing distressed areas by improving streetscapes and sidewalks and other related projects.
ASLA Government Affairs team will continue to monitor the federal appropriations provisions important to landscape architecture and will provide timely updates through the ASLA Advocacy Network.
Are you an ASLA advocate? If not, please visit the ASLA Advocacy Network to register. If you have any questions regarding the Hartzler amendment, THUD appropriations bill, or the Advocacy Network, please contact the ASLA Government Affairs team at firstname.lastname@example.org.