Susie Lee’s bill to make it easier to get new housing built in land-strapped states passes

Susie Lee’s bill to make it easier to get new housing built in land-strapped states passes

Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., waves on stage with Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., before President Joe Biden speaks about the economy, Tuesday March 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By Casey Harrison

July 9, 2024

The bill would permit the Department of Interior to use any appraiser certified in at least one state, which could alleviate bottlenecks that undermine conservation, housing and infrastructure projects on public lands. 

The US House on Monday passed bipartisan legislation that, if passed, could help Nevada receive land from the federal government for residential and commercial use. 

Dubbed the Accelerating Appraisals and Conservation Efforts (AACE) Act, the proposal would ease requirements for the US Department of the Interior relating to real property appraisals for transactions the agency has jurisdiction over. The bill was introduced by Nevada Democratic US Rep. Susie Lee as a way to speed up land sales for housing developments amid shortening supply.

“We can’t let red tape get in the way of key land transactions that will support conservation, build critical infrastructure, and help cut housing costs,” Lee said in a statement. “The AACE Act cuts through red tape by giving the Department of the Interior a much-needed tool to more quickly get land deals done at no additional cost to the American taxpayer. I’m proud that my bipartisan bill is one step closer to being signed into law.” 

DOI oversees hundreds of millions of acres of public lands nationwide, but before it can complete any land transaction, it must first guarantee that these transactions are done at fair market value, according to Lee’s office. 

With growing demand for federal land — especially out west to address housing needs — the agency has had to rely increasingly on private appraisers who can only work in the specific states where they are credentialed — unlike federal appraisers, which can work across state lines. 

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Lee’s bill would change that requirement, permitting DOI officials to use any appraiser certified in at least one state, which her office said would alleviate bottlenecks that undermine conservation, housing and infrastructure projects on public lands.  

Along with Lee, the bill was co-sponsored by Republican David Joyce, as well as each of Nevada’s representatives — and was even endorsed by GOP Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo. The bill now moves to the US Senate, where Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto will introduce it for further consideration, Lee’s office said. 

“As land-related activities continue to skyrocket nationwide, so does the need for accurate and timely appraisals,” Joyce said in a news release. “The bipartisan AACE Act will help to alleviate the appraisal backlog by expanding the Department of the Interior’s ability to work with credentialed private appraisers. I am proud to see this legislation pass the House so that we can help support preservation efforts and spur economic growth in Ohio and across the country.” 

In addition to politicians, the bill has also been endorsed by the nonprofit Nevada Conservation League as well as the US Chamber of Commerce and others. 

Kristee Watson, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League, celebrated the House’s passage of the bill and called on the Senate to do the same. 

“This legislation is an important step forward for streamlining conservation efforts and facilitating critical infrastructure projects our communities rely on,” told The Nevadan in a statement. “By making more land appraisers available to the Department of the Interior, the AACE Act cuts through bureaucratic red tape and improves the efficiency of land appraisal. The AACE Act will enable timely conservation actions, all while saving taxpayer dollars. NCL commends Congresswoman Susie Lee for proposing a solution prioritizing conservation and sustainable growth and development.” 

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.

CATEGORIES: NATIONAL POLITICS
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