At its annual board retreat last week, APA adopted its 2017 legislative priorities, a document that will guide the advocacy work of the organization both in Washington, D.C., and across the country.
These priorities represent a collaboration between APA staff, who work daily with Congress and understand the current political atmosphere, and APA leadership, who work within their communities and understand the realities on the ground.
The document strives to focus on the most pressing federal issues identified by staff and leadership that planners are likely to face in 2017.
The legislative priorities focus on three key areas:
Investing in the nation’s critical infrastructure
Strong economies and vibrant communities require good infrastructure. Well-planned infrastructure investments are a catalyst for economic growth, long-term prosperity, and access to opportunity for all. Today’s bipartisan support for infrastructure holds the promise of not only new jobs and revenue but also stronger communities providing access to prosperity and opportunity. At the same time, we need not just more investment, but better investment. Any federal infrastructure program should be driven by key principles of good planning.
Advancing policies that promote social equity, inclusive communities, and expanding access to economic and social opportunities for all
The promise of equal opportunity and access to economic and social mobility for all is a fundamental component of the American dream. Inequality, stagnant growth, and systemic barriers to community development have deep costs for individuals, families, and communities. Planning is an essential part of engaging the public and identifying both barriers to and opportunities for shared, inclusive growth. Federal and state policies and programs should directly address social equity challenges and support efforts to create more prosperous and more just communities.
Income inequality, stagnant wages, and discrimination are serious threats to social cohesion and limit access to the opportunities that improve the lives of individuals and entire communities. Deepening divides in the face of technology and workforce changes threaten to worsen community unrest and adversity. As a result, we must take extra steps to build stronger mechanisms that enable people and their communities to realize opportunities and to share in the economic prosperity America has to offer.
Providing high-quality federal data that supports effective local planning and decision making
Good planning is based on sound, comprehensive data, and the federal government is a key provider of this essential information. In an era of frequent distrust of institutions and opinions posing as data, we need reliable and robust data sources to guide sound decision making at the local, state, and federal levels. Good data is necessary for the analysis required to establish priorities for investment and changes in policy, rather than gut feel or cronyism. This supports our other policy priorities.
Throughout the year based on what is happening in Washington, APA will launch grassroots advocacy campaigns based on these priorities, beginning with a focus on a potential infrastructure package.
These priorities were introduced to members of Congress in a letter from APA President Cynthia Bowen, AICP. To communicate the priorities to your own legislators, visit APA’s Legislative Action Center to send a pre-drafted letter based on the letter sent by APA President Bowen to Capitol Hill.
In the coming weeks, APA will explore the priorities in greater depth, opening with a look at a list of principles APA is pushing be considered when the President and Congress consider an infrastructure package to address the dire infrastructure needs of American communities.
Top image: U.S. Capitol dome. Thinkstock photo.
About the Author
Tess Hembree is policy manager at Advocacy Associates.