There is one summary for this bill. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (03/12/1997)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Designation and Evaluation of Renewal Communities

Title II: Tax Provisions

Subtitle A: Tax Incentives for Renewal Communities

Subtitle B: Charitable Contribution Credit

Title III: Low-Income Educational Opportunity Scholarship

Program

Title IV: Additional Provisions

American Community Renewal Act of 1997 - Title I: Designation and Evaluation of Renewal Communities - Renewing American Communities Act of 1997 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to create a new subchapter on renewal communities (RCs), authorizing designation of not more than 100 areas (with the first 50 being from areas which are enterprise zones or empowerment communities) as RCs if: (1) the areas have pervasive poverty, unemployment, and general distress and meet other requirements; and (2) State and local governments agree to take actions such as tax reduction, crime reduction strategies, and reducing, repealing, or not enforcing within the area certain governmental requirements such as licensing, zoning, and permits. Provides for: (1) coordination of RCs with empowerment zones and enterprise communities; and (2) interaction of the provisions of this Act with other Federal programs.

Directs the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to report to the Congress concerning such designations.

Title II: Tax Provisions - Subtitle A: Tax Incentives for Renewal Communities - Excludes from gross income the capital gain from an RC stock, business property, or partnership interest held more than five years.

Allows a deduction to any qualified individual or other person for amounts paid in cash to a family development account for the individual's benefit. Allows account use for postsecondary education, first home purchase, business capitalization, medical expenses, and qualified rollovers. Excludes such accounts from taxation. Requires that the individual resided in an RC and was allowed an earned income credit for the preceding taxable year.

Authorizes designation of not more than 25 RCs as account matching demonstration areas. Provides, to the extent provided in appropriations Acts, for matching contributions to accounts.

Sets the commercial revitalization credit (established below) at 20 to 50 percent of the revitalization expenditures regarding a revitalization building.

Increases, for an RC business, the dollar limit on expensing certain depreciable business assets.

Permits a taxpayer to treat any RC environmental remediation cost as an expense which is not chargeable to capital account. Allows any cost so treated as a deduction.

(Sec. 202) Provides a special work opportunity credit rule for RCs.

(Sec. 203) Provides for the commercial revitalization credit.

Subtitle B: Charitable Contributions Credit - Allows an individual a credit for 75 percent of the contributions (of up to $100 annually for a taxpayer) to an organization described in Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) (charitable, etc., organizations) for which the taxpayer has done more than ten hours of volunteer service and which: (1) is primarily assisting poor individuals; (2) spends all of its resources providing services to the poor; and (3) has limited political activity. Terminates such credit after December 31, 1999.

Title III: Low-Income Educational Opportunity Scholarship Program - Low-Income Educational Opportunity Act of 1997 - Requires an RC to establish and operate a Low-Income Educational Opportunity Scholarship program to: (1) provide RC families a choice of schools; and (2) provide assistance for attending public and private elementary and secondary schools, including religious schools.

(Sec. 309) Requires that children attending: (1) private schools receive assistance for tuition, fees, and transportation; and (2) alternative public schools receive assistance for transportation.

(Sec. 310) Sets forth school eligibility requirements.

(Sec. 311) Declares that a scholarship under this title is an award of aid to a family, not to a school.

Prohibits: (1) a Federal, State, or local agency taking into account Federal funds provided to a renewal community, school, or parent in determining whether to provide any other funds; and (2) deeming scholarships as parental income for Federal income tax purposes or for determining eligibility for other Federal programs.

States that nothing in this title shall be construed to supersede any State law prohibiting the expenditure of public funds by sectarian schools, except that no State law may prohibit the expenditure by sectarian schools of Federal funds under this title.

(Sec. 316) Requires that any constitutional challenge to the program be tried in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Permits an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

(Sec. 317) Authorizes appropriations.

Title IV: Additional Provisions - Provides for the transfer of ownership of any qualified Department of Housing and Urban Development property to the unit of local government having jurisdiction, if such unit of local government agrees to dispose such qualified property as specified, including granting to a community development corporation the right of first refusal.

(Sec. 402) Amends the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) to declare that the provisions of this section apply to each program under the PHSA that makes Federal awards to prevent or treat substance abuse.

Allows, notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious organization (RO) to be an award recipient, make subawards, provide services through vouchers, or accept vouchers for providing services. Makes ROs eligible on the same basis as any other nonprofit private organization. Prohibits Federal or State: (1) discrimination against an organization on the basis that the organization has a religious character; and (2) requirements that an RO, in order to be a program participant, remove religious art, icons, scripture, or other symbols.

Requires an RO to arrange for services through an alternative entity if an individual objects to the RO. Allows an RO to require a beneficiary who has elected to receive services from the organization to actively participate in religious practice, worship, and instruction.

Prohibits using funds for sectarian worship or instruction, unless the beneficiary may choose where the assistance is redeemed or allocated.

Declares that assistance to or on behalf of a beneficiary is aid to the beneficiary and not to the organization. Requires, if a State law or constitution would prevent the expenditure of State or local funds by ROs, that the Federal funds shall be segregated from State or other public funds.

Requires, for personnel working in RO drug treatment programs, giving credit for religious education and training equivalent to credit given for secular course work. Mandates waiver of educational requirements if the RO has a record of successful drug treatment and the State or local government fails to demonstrate empirically that the educational qualifications are necessary.

(Sec. 403) Amends the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 to allow the appropriate Federal financial supervisory agency, in assessing the record of a financial institution, to consider the institution's ventures with any community development organization in an RC.