Individual communities should be able to live as they like, but they cannot do so at the indiscriminate expense of another community. Great societies recognize that regions evolve and do not remain the same. The pace of change must be one that is comfortable for families and communities who choose to live in a place not for it to change in a decade, which is less time than it takes raise a family. Rather than create new legislation, it is sufficient to amend existing laws and ensure that they be followed and enforced at all levels. Specifically, The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which was meant as a shield not sword, must be amended. Considering our platform of empowering communities, RLUIPA serves to advance that agenda, but not if it deployed for reasons that do not enrich the community. Further, when it comes to the sanctity of a community, and especially a religious community, it is essential that its leaders be held to a higher account. America is a country built on individual and religious freedom, and that must always be respected. But it is also a country built on mutual respect of neighbors, inclusiveness, and equality before the law. While it might seem counterintuitive, strong communities empower their neighboring communities. It is not a zero-sum game. There are paths where everyone can win. RLUIPA was passed with the noble intent of preventing discrimination based on religion in zoning and other local regulations. However, over time and due to certain language in the law, its original intent to ensure even application of fair local laws has turned into the usual machination of law on the part of highly paid lawyers who encourage the shenanigans. Cynically, there are groups and well-paid attorneys who completely upend the law on phony First Amendment grounds.
- Propose legislation to amend RLUIPA toward its original laudable purpose by fixing up the language that allows lawyerly manipulation
- Propose legislation that limits that density of RLUIPA exempt developments and properties
- Propose legislation that expands that exemptions for the RLUIPA qualifying properties under the amended law. This will empower communities and incentivize their leaders to consider such legislation as worthy
- Propose legislation requiring states to manage Medicaid on a state level. This will lift the burden imposed upon Rockland by the cynical Democratic leaders in Albany who benefit from community strife in Rockland