D.C. Reflections by Bailey deRouen

photo of Nation's Capitol building in Washington D.C.

September, 2014

by Bailey deRouen

Over the last weekend in September I had the opportunity to attend the annual American Planning Association’s Policy and Advocacy Conference, Advance Planning, in Washington, D.C. along with our APA Louisiana Chapter President, Ms. Lydia Jemison and Mr. Steve Villavaso.  This was my first visit to D.C. and the Policy and Advocacy Conference and the trip was an amazing introduction to both.

With all of the policy changes occurring at the federal level and the serious budget constraints at every level of government, the conference provided insight on how these changes affect daily planning activities locally. With the recent expiration of MAP-21 and the future of the Highway Trust Fund in doubt, many of the panel discussions focused on transportation planning. The increasing uncertainty surrounding the availability of federal funds was widely discussed, but also the possible innovations on the local and state levels and the exciting surge in multi-modal projects across the country. 

Other topics discussed throughout the conference that are especially significant to Louisiana were local resiliency, sea level rise, and fracking. Innovative policies for improving local resiliency were discussed, including new federal initiatives to increase data sharing among all levels of government to improve sea level rise mapping capabilities, allowing for more informed planning in coastal communities.

On the last day of the conference, emboldened with a new understanding of major federal issues, we were invited to visit our legislators to discuss these important planning issues. Lydia, Steve, and I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from both Senators Landrieu and Vitter’s office, and Congressman Scalise and Richmond’s office. The major issues discussed on the Hill were the CDBG program, the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and New Market Tax Credits, the TIGER program, and long-term sustainable transportation funding.

Louisiana is fortunate to have a very engaged and proactive congressional delegation that take planning issues seriously.  In addition to having an exciting day visiting Capitol Hill and the US Supreme Court, I left with an optimistic outlook on the future of planning.