On Monday night, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed, with the support of U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull), the Metropolitan Areas Protection and Standardization (MAPS) Act, which would prevent the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from automatically redefining Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) as Micropolitan Statistical Areas following the completion of the decennial U.S. Census.
This legislation would also require the OMB to ensure that any changes made to MSA classifications be accompanied by a report containing the scientific basis and methodology used to make the change and demonstrate that the decision was not influenced by any non-statistical considerations. Additionally, the OMB must complete a report on how many domestic assistance programs receive federal funding due to the classification of the statistical areas where they serve.
“Statistical area classifications – both metro- and micropolitan – are critical to the vitality of our main street businesses, diversified economy, and vibrant communities in the 4th District,” said Rep. Feenstra. “From economic development to transportation infrastructure, cities and towns across Iowa rely on consistent statistical area definitions to plan major projects, attract new residents, and develop a strong workforce. I am proud to support the MAPS Act to ensure that our communities – particularly Council Bluffs and Ames which were at risk of losing their MSA status – receive their fair share of federal dollars without indiscriminate bureaucratic interference.”
In March of 2021, Feenstra helped send a letter to the OMB in response to a proposed rule in January of the same year that would change the definition of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, putting the City of Ames at risk of losing its status as an MSA. More specifically, this proposal would have reduced critical federal funding used for transportation, infrastructure, housing assistance, and economic development.
Feenstra also spoke directly with the Director of the OMB, Shalanda Young, during a House Budget Committee hearing in June of 2021, where she recognized, at Feenstra’s urging, how this proposed rule change would negatively impact local communities and the economy. Thankfully, the OMB did not move forward with the proposed rule change in July.