2009 Legislative Outlook
When the 2009 General Assembly convenes in early January, we will be there to continue our smart growth advocacy efforts. The big issues facing lawmakers this session all related to the downturn in the economy. Lawmakers are looking for ways to invest in programs that will stimulate the economy.
Our main message to lawmakers is simple: smart growth is good economic policy. Sprawl development costs us all, from the family gas budget to the local government services budget to the state infrastructure maintenance costs.
Here are some of the major smart growth-related state policy issues we expect lawmakers to grapple with this coming session:
- Downtown and Village Center Redevelopment Incentives. Current law caps the annual downtown and village center tax credits at $1.6 million, but the demand for those incentives exceeds this cap. These credits are a proven stimulus for economic activity, which is why lawmakers enacted a one-time increase in the credit cap during the 2008 session. We will be urging lawmakers to again make this program a central element of their economic stimulus package.
- Regulation of Costly Strip Development. The 2008 Legislature established a Smart Growth Study Task Force to evaluate a number of state policies and recommend items for action in 2009. One of the key findings of the task force is that local regulation, state policy and Act 250 are not adequately controlling unwanted and costly strip development. Enacting improvements to the regulation of strip development is an important priority for this coming session.
- Growth Center Implementation Oversight and Reform. In 2006, we worked hard to secure passage of the Growth Centers program, which created a process for municipalities to seek state designation for local growth centers that are planned in accordance with smart growth principles. Designated growth centers are then eligible for a range of incentives and benefits. So far, implementation of this law so far is not consistent with the statute. We will be pushing lawmakers to hold oversight hearings and enact reforms to get this important program back on track.