Tag Archive for 'ARTBA'

ARTBA Reports: Voters Approve Nearly 90 Percent of Transportation Investment Ballot Measures

Voters in 19 states Nov. 5 sent a decisive message of support for transportation investment, approving almost 90 percent of 305 state and local transportation ballot measures.
 
In total, the 270 approved initiatives are expected to generate over $9.6 billion in one-time and recurring revenue, according to the analysis conducted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™ (ARTBA-TIAC). Two measures in Texas are still pending.
 
“The ballot results are a great reminder infrastructure investment remains one of the few areas where red states, blue states, Republicans and Democrats can all come together,” ARTBA President Dave Bauer said.  “It should also demonstrate to lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the public will be on board for the passage of a long-term bill that significantly boosts highway and transit investment at the federal level.”
 
A complete report and an all-new interactive dashboard that filters results by state, mode, year and type of initiative are available at the Center’s flagship website: www.transportationinvestment.org.
 
The preliminary results reaffirm a decade-long trend of voters strongly supporting investments to maintain and improve their state or local transportation networks. Voters have approved 81 percent of nearly 2,000 transportation investment ballot measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC since 2010, including this year’s results.
 
“Public support for increasing infrastructure investment continues to help local governments and the transportation construction community improve safety, mobility and overall quality of life for residents as projects get underway,” said Carolyn Kramer, ARTBA-TIAC director. 
 
Voters in Maine overwhelmingly approved, by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin, a $105 million bond measure to support transportation infrastructure projects. The vote was Maine’s seventh successful transportation bond in eight years.
 
While transportation investment fared well nationwide, Washington state voters endorsed by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin a measure that reduces or repeals certain motor vehicle taxes and fees and removes the authority to impose certain new fees without their approval. This decision will cost the state nearly $4.3 billion in state and local transportation revenue over the next six years. 
 
Voters in Colorado rejected by a 55 percent to 45 percent vote a measure that would have permitted the state to retain excess tax collections in order to fund education and transportation.
 
The 305 measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC is the largest number ever for an odd-numbered, off-year election. Although historically most transportation measures are put on the ballot in even-numbered years when congressional or presidential elections drive higher turnout, an increasing number of measures are being considered by voters during odd-numbered years and primary elections.
 
There were 57 measures in 12 states that would raise over $20 million each, compared to 21 measures in 2017.  Of that total, 89 percent were approved.  Of 25 measures that would raise over $100 million, voters approved 92 percent.  This included a bond measure in Harris County, Texas to support transit expansions in Houston under the “Moving Forward Plan.”    
 
Of the local ballot measures, most (302 of 305) were property tax increases, primarily in Ohio (154) and Michigan (15), where many municipalities consistently ask voters to renew such assessments to pay for local roads and infrastructure repairs.
 
Additionally, local bond measures in Texas appeared on 25 ballots and received 96 percent approval, which will generate nearly $6 billion. Most of these measures established municipal utility districts.
 
The approved measures will support $7.7 billion in new transportation investment revenue and $1.9 billion in continued funding through tax extensions, renewals or protections. The timing of the market impact of these actions is difficult to project as revenue approved will last up to 25 years.
 
The Transportation Investment Advocacy Center ™ (TIAC) is a first-of-its kind, dynamic education program and Internet-based information resource designed to help private citizens, legislators, organizations and businesses successfully grow transportation investment at the state and local levels through the legislative and ballot initiative processes.

ARTBA Reports: Senate Passes FY 2020 Transportation Spending Legislation

By Dean Franks, senior vice president, Congressional relations, ARTBA

The Senate Oct. 31 passed a bundle of – FY 2020 spending bills, H.R. 3055 including one funding the U.S. Department of Transportation programs – in a modest sign of progress toward implementing full-year spending levels before the current spending law expires Nov. 21.  The House passed its version of the package June 25.

The Senate-passed legislation contains full-funding at authorized levels for highway and airport construction programs but falls short for public transportation capital grant programs.  Following recent precedent and in accordance with the two-year bipartisan budget agreement reached in July, the legislation also includes additional funding from the General Fund on highway, transit and airport programs beyond the authorized spending levels. A full breakdown of spending and a comparison to the House-passed version of this bill can be found below.

The ARTBA Co-Chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) Oct. 30 wrote to the Senate to weigh in on various amendments to the legislation that were being considered.  The full letter can be found here.  The only amendment that was considered of the five the coalition supported or opposed was the Jones-McSally amendment to prevent a potential cut to core transit programs.  The 82-11 vote in support of the amendment demonstrates overwhelming support for public transportation spending at the federal level, a priority for ARTBA.

The 84-9 sweeping bipartisan vote on the entire bill reflects broad support for agencies funded by this package.  The legislation now heads to what is known as a “conference committee,” where differences between the Senate and House-passed bills will be negotiated.  ARTBA will continue advocating for maximum funding for highway, public transportation and airport construction programs and encourage Congress to enact a final bill before the current spending package expires Nov. 21.

Senate Considers FY2020 Transportation Appropriations

By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA

The Senate the week of Oct. 21 began debating the Fiscal Year 2020 Transportation Appropriations bill that, if enacted, would provide over $65 billion for highway, transit, and airport capital spending. The legislation would fully fund highway programs at FAST Act authorized levels, though fall short on transit spending.

In addition to the spending authorized as part of surface transportation and aviation bills, legislators include $4.7 billion in additional funding for highway, transit and airport programs, due to a bipartisan budget agreement earlier in the year. Here’s the complete spending breakdown on these programs:

The Senate is expected to conclude debate and pass the legislation the week of Oct. 28. The House and Senate bills would then enter a process known as a “conference”, where the two chambers negotiate the differences and agree on final legislative text for each to vote on again before heading to the president for his signature.

All federal government programs subject to the annual appropriations process are currently running at FY 2019 levels via a temporary extension of spending authority through Nov. 21.  While the differences in the House and Senate transportation spending bills are relatively minor, macro issues related to overall funding levels and controversial policies in other spending bills may prevent the sides from reaching an agreement on the transportation bill before another extension is needed.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said it would be “optimistic” to expect any of the annual spending bills to become law before the current stopgap expires Nov. 21 and another temporary spending extension may delay the final measure into early spring.

Federal Highway Administration Repeals Proprietary Products Rule

How ARTBA Helped Make It Happen  

By Dave Bauer

Change is hard.  Change in the federal legislative and regulatory policy arena can be even harder. 

Dave Bauer

But as the famed 20th century American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead once observed: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Such a sentiment rings true as it relates to ARTBA’s volunteer leaders in the wake of a September 26 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announcement.  The agency said it was repealing the 1916 procurement rule prohibiting state and local governments from using patented or proprietary products on highway and bridge projects that receive federal funding —unless those products qualified for limited exceptions.

FHWA’s action was a direct response to ARTBA’s March 2018 petition, and it highlights once again a hallmark of the association’s value as a regulatory reform champion.

“Highway administration eliminates a pesky rule for states,” was the headline over a CQ News story, which recognized ARTBA’s lead role in “a concentrated campaign” to repeal the rule.

For those not well versed—which is most—on this archaic rule, it has obstructed state transportation agencies from utilizing patented or proprietary materials, specifications or processes on federal-aid highway projects.  It’s had the practical effect of hindering innovation and development of potentially life-saving technologies for use throughout the nation’s highway and bridge system. 

The repeal gives states the option to use patented and proprietary products on federal-aid projects if they choose to do so.  While the original rule was intended to preserve fair competition, a level playing field must not be confused with celebrating the status quo.  States now have the freedom to use federal funds on the full range of transportation products and solutions that best meet their needs.

A major regulatory achievement like this doesn’t just happen on its own.  For many years and during several editions of ARTBA’s Dr. J. Don Brock TransOvation™ Workshop, ARTBA members continually cited the rule as a barrier to innovation, in part because of inconsistent implementation of the waiver process among the states. 

Extraordinary leadership from ARTBA’s volunteer leaders also played a major role.  Hats off to Kevin Groeneweg (Mobile Barriers, LLC), who relentlessly pursued this reform for many years, and John Hillman (Parsons Corporation), a leading voice among industry innovators. Long-time industry leaders Trinity Highway Products, CRH Americas Materials, 3M and Transpo Industries also supported ARTBA’s legal efforts.

Another hallmark of a successful advocacy organization is the realization that the job is never truly done.

That’s why ARTBA is launching a working group from its eight membership divisions to share information and strategies to integrate proprietary products throughout the states.  We also will continue to spotlight the proprietary products issue as FHWA reexamines the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) later this year.  As Mead reminds us, it takes that “small group of thoughtful, committee citizens” to bring about real change.

ARTBA Reports: FY 2020 Spending Bills Move Toward November Passage

By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA

The House and Senate are moving forward with important spending legislation to avoid a government shutdown.

The House, by a 301-123 vote, Sept. 19 passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) – a temporary spending bill that would extend FY 2019 funding levels for all appropriations bills until Nov. 21. The stopgap spending measure now moves to the Senate, which is expected to pass it for President Donald Trump’s signature before the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.

This process was expected. In early August, after enacting a two-year budget deal that set a path for future bipartisan agreements on most spending decisions, congressional leaders in both parties acknowledged that a funding patch like the CR passed this week would still be necessary..

On the other side of the capitol, the Senate Appropriations Committee Sept. 19 passed its version of an FY 2020 transportation spending bill, including full-funding for Highway Trust Fund (HTF)-supported programs at FAST Act-authorized levels.

Guided by the August budget agreement, Senate appropriators continued the recent precedent of adding supplementary highway, transit, and airport funding beyond authorized levels. The chart below shows the last two years of federal spending on these programs and compares the details of the Senate bill to the June 25 House-passed legislation.

The Senate may consider their version of the bill as soon as the week of Sept. 23. Once the Senate passes its legislation, lawmakers from both parties and both chambers will meet to work through the few differences that exist between the bills.  Final passage of the FY 2020 legislation and the president’s signature are expected before the CR expires Nov. 21.

ARTBA will continue working to ensure the final bill contains as much additional investment as possible in highway, public transportation and airport construction programs.