Friday, March 09, 2007

Laws

What are they good for?

Zoning laws:

In a hurricane-ravaged city desperately lacking health services for the poor, the primary-care clinics that arrived in New Orleans last summer looked to be just what the doctor ordered.

The six double-wide trailers from FEMA, each equipped with eight exam rooms, were supposed to be strategically deployed around the city and provide checkups and other nonemergency health services for the city's poor and uninsured.

But nearly nine months after they were first delivered, the trailers are still in the parking lot of University Hospital waiting to be deployed, and Louisiana State University officials are angrily asking how the seemingly simple process of bringing them into service got delayed by red tape and political foot-dragging.

***

Councilman James Carter, whose district would house five of the clinics, attributed the delay to "a lot of research in dealing with the zoning laws that we have." Since current law does not allow for health clinics to be located on school property, which is zoned residential, Carter at first thought the city might have to change its zoning law, a process that can take up to a year.
The Stafford Act:
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, the state’s senior senator, recently fired off a letter asking President Bush to waive the 10 percent local government match on federal disaster money. The match, which in this case could cost the state up to $1 billion, is required under federal Stafford Act rules.

Such waivers have been granted in 32 disasters since 1985, including the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Andrew and the San Francisco earthquakes.

Powell said the Bush administration fronted Louisiana the money — about $775 million — for the payments as part of the $10.4 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant funds earmarked last year for rebuilding flood-damaged houses.
This law, whatever it’s called (from previous article):
In a separate matter, Landrieu wants to get an increase for the state in CDGB funding. Congress put a 54 percent cap on available CDBG funding going to any one state in the last supplemental bill, a restraint not put on Mississippi. Landrieu contends Louisiana should get $8 billion to $32 billion more.

That is law,’’ Powell said of the cap.
And this interpretation of age discrimination, also tied to the Stafford Act (also from previous article):
On yet another funding issue, the Louisiana Recovery Authority wants to use nearly $1.2 billion in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the “Road Home’’ program. The $7.5 billion program includes $6.3 billion in CDBG funds and the nearly $1.2 billion in hazard-mitigation funds. The latter funds would be used to elevate flood-prone homes or buy them out.

FEMA is refusing to approve the move, saying Louisiana discriminates against younger people.

That allegation is based on the fact that the LRA waived the 40 percent buyout penalty for seniors aged 65 and older. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has told Congress that it has no problem with what the state proposes to do with the $1.1 billion. So the LRA is urging Congress to move the funds to HUD for implementation.

Again, Powell said the issue is one of law.
Emphasises mine.

I have what I think is an uncommon opinion about the worthiness of laws: Any law that needs to be enforced is not a good law.

I prefer universal laws, like gravity. When was the last time someone broke the law of gravity? And we don’t need Gravity Police to enforce the law. That’s a good law.

Laws that make it harder for the Gulf Coast to recover are not good laws.

3 comments:

Clay said...

The refusal to waive the 10% match, even for small projects, is just ridiculous.

That being said, I think it would be a very bad idea to take away from Hazard Mitigation money.

It's my understanding that this money is related to the NFIP and is essential for #1- holding down NFIP rates and #2 reducing future damage from the next Katrina.

http://epw.senate.gov/105th/fem_7-23.htm

For every dollar spent through hazard mitigation, we save $3-$5 in the future.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/storm/interviews/witt.html

da po' boy said...

The LRA wants to use the money for hazard mitigation, the way I understand it. But FEMA won't release the money because the Stafford Act prohibits age discrimination when distributing the money. FEMA says the LRA's policy of waiving the moving penalty is age discrimination.

Leigh C. said...

God almighty, it makes me wanna throttle every legislator and lobbyist I see. Problem is, I don't have that kind of time...