Tag Archive for 'Transportation Bill'

As Summer fades

By Greg Sitek

It’s hard to believe that Summer 2019 is fading into history. We are one step closer to a new transportation bill as theSenate’s America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA) Committee on July 30 unanimously approved the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), legislation introduced July 29 by EPW Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md).  If enacted, the measure would significantly increase funds for highway and bridge improvements from FY 2021 through FY 2025.

According to reports from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, ARTBA, “The Senate proposal represents the first program reauthorization bill in nearly 15 years that would significantly increase federal investment in highway safety and mobility improvements.

“The committee’s early action is a critical first step in the lengthy legislative process.  It’s also a welcome departure from the series of extensions and years of delay that have plagued the last few surface transportation bills.

“We urge the Senate Commerce, Banking and Finance Committees to take timely action early this fall on their respective policy and financing components of the measure.  Final passage of a bill this year provides a meaningful opportunity for members of Congress and the Trump administration to deliver on the infrastructure investment promise they have been making since the 2016 elections.”

The current FAST Act highway and transit investment law expire Sept. 30, 2020.

There have been reports from Washington that Senate is anxious to have the ATIA passed this year. In some of the articles, I’ve read a target date as early as this September has been suggested. Hopefully, it will get through Congress faster than the FAST Act.

In addition to transportation infrastructure getting attention, the Trump administration recently  announced three regulatory measures with significant impact for highway and heavy construction:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a request for information asking the regulated community to help clarify various aspects of the crystalline silica rule.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released proposed changes to the federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules, which govern the amount of time truck drivers can spend on the road.
  • An overhaul of the Endangered Species Act includes new limits to where the government can block development by declaring land as “critical habitat.”

“These three developments highlight the administration’s continued focus on removing unnecessary regulatory burdens from the project delivery process,” said ARTBA Vice President of Regulatory & Legal Issues Nick Goldstein. “ARTBA will continue to work with federal agencies to keep advancing beneficial regulatory reforms.”

ARTBA also expects in the coming weeks to hear from the U.S. Department of Transportation about the potential repeal of a federal regulation that prohibits state and local governments from using patented or proprietary products on highway and bridge projects that receive federal funding unless those products qualify for limited exceptions. The rule was adopted in 1916 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which then managed the emerging federal-aid highway program.

To address the transportation problems on the local level, there will be higher taxes in some states: The fuel price news will be compounded in a handful of states where excise taxes where hiked just as folks were finalizing their July 4th travel plans.

Drivers in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and along one major highway in Virginia will pay more for fuel, primarily gasoline, due to tax increases that took effect on July 1, 2019the start of their fiscal years.

Some were already in the works as phased-in incremental fuel tax hikes. Others are new, large bumps in the fuels’ prices. And a few apply to vehicles that run on diesel instead of gasoline. (Dontmesswithtaxes.com)

This fall could prove to be “legislatively interesting.” You will want to keep informed.

A Summer Rerun, Kinda… Comments on the Infrastructure, Highway Bill and More

Site-K Editorial Staff

The following is scheduled to appear in the July issues of the ACP magazines but a blog in “The Hill” made me decide to run it now along with a link to that blog.  Basically, the blame game… well, you can read it yourself …

July editorial starts:

By the time you read this it will bee too late to make a difference, Congress will have been on its summer recess and back to work. We’ll know what they did with the highway bill that’s been hanging in suspension since September 2009 and has suffered through 9 or maybe 10 extensions.

Not long ago this came to me on the Internet from Reuter’s news services:

China is set to speed up spending on roads, railways and utilities to boost economic growth, the official China Securities Journal said recently, citing government economists.

“The increased fiscal spending on infrastructure, which has already started, will fall within Beijing’s framework of policy “fine-tuning” instead of another massive stimulus like the one Beijing launched at the end of 2008.

“Zhang Hanya, the head of China’s investment association, a think tank affiliated with China’s economic planning agency, was quoted as saying that boosting investment is the only choice for Beijing to bolster growth since consumption is always stable and exports are meeting overseas demands.

“Spending on roads, bridges, subways and airports will boom as investments in industrial facilities will worsen overcapacity and more property investments are discouraged by Beijing, Zhang said.

“’China has to rely on infrastructure investment to manage economic slowdown,” Zhang was quoted as saying.

“China’s economy grew at its weakest pace in nearly three years in the first quarter of 2012, with the annual rate of expansion slowing to 8.1 percent from 8.9 percent in the last quarter of 2011.”

The just the other day this came in from ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers):

“AN OFFER THAT CONGRESS CANNOT REFUSE?

“Surface transportation conference committee talks were very fluid this past week. On Tuesday, conference committee Chairman Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) hand delivered a draft conference report offer to conference leaders in the House of Representatives. The offer included the titles pertaining to transportation policy reform, but did not include any of the major sticking points, such as how to fund the transportation package or the Keystone Pipeline. House Republicans are now working on a counteroffer, which will hopefully be completed before the House leaves for recess next week.

“Boxer said that she and Senator Inhofe were well-received by conference committee Vice-Chairman John Mica (R-FL), however many House Republicans have since been quick to complain about how similar the offer is to the Senate passed MAP-21 legislation. House Democrats on the other hand have complained about not being included in the preparation of a counteroffer to the Senate.

“The House this week also voted on a series of non-binding motions to instruct conferees. The first motion, which passed, asked conferees to support a piece of the Senate bill that would guarantee each state receive at least 95% of combined Highway Trust Fund apportionments. The next motion, which failed, asked conferees to support a piece of the Senate bill intended to curb tax haven abuse. The final motion was the Broun (R-GA) language intended to tie Highway Trust Fund expenditures to revenues next year, in effect decimating surface transportation programs in FY13. ASCE has come out in strong opposition of the amendment, as has the Transportation Construction Coalition, and the US Chamber-lead American’s for Transportation Mobility, which are both coalitions ASCE is a member of. The motion will be voted on today.

“Finally, Chairman Boxer also expressed concern recently over comments that have come from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Cantor was accused of making statements that there will be no more substantial legislative work in the House before the elections and that surface transportation programs should be extended. Speaker John Boehner reasserted his desire to complete a bill before June 30th after the news broke. However, later in the week Boehner said that if a deal is not completed by June 30th that the next extension should go until the end of the calendar year.”

And then I received this:

Pelosi: Republicans stalling on highway bill to kill jobs, hurt President Obama

By Mike Lillis

“The Democratic leader suggested the GOP is trying to delay transportation funding so it won’t stimulate the economy before November. House GOP leaders are stalling on the highway bill in order to eliminate jobs and damage President Obama’s reelection chances, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) charged on Thursday.

“The Senate in March easily passed bipartisan legislation reauthorizing transportation spending for two years, but conservatives objected to the size of package, leading House GOP leaders to champion a short-term extension instead.

“Pelosi, the Democratic leader, suggested Thursday that the smaller proposal is part of a broader GOP strategy to delay the transportation funding so it won’t stimulate the economy before November.

“’Why would they not bring it up?” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol. “Because I think that the Republicans in the House want to do nothing more than having extensions. Maybe they’ll do something right before the election, but it’ll be too late to create jobs.

“’If they do the extensions,” she added, “they’re using up the trust fund, the highway trust fund, they are hurting job creation — in fact people will lose jobs — and it’s just the wrong thing to do.”

What’s the point? The point is that we have had the tools to make our economy work; we are just lacking the serious desire to do so. It’s obvious that an investment in something like the highway bill would increase employment and stimulate spending for domestically produced goods used in domestic applications. There are hundreds of miles of roads in every state that need attention, the lack of which exacerbates the already bad situation making only worse.

Consider some of the comments quoted above. The problem is hard to ignore. You have to ask yourself, why has something that is so essential to our country, its infrastructure, become fair game for political rivalry. You really have to ask why the term bipartisan has been removed from our vocabulary.

Maybe I’m off base but I’ll bet we don’t get a highway bill of any value by the time you read this.

More on the Infrastructure:

On U.S. infrastructure, spend now, gain later

When the American Society of Civil Engineers issued a report card giving D and F grades for major infrastructure assets in the United States, the group estimated that it would cost $2.2 trillion to rehabilitate them. Even though these public sector assets support the private sector of the economy, and despite the availability of cheap money, Congress has no current plans to remedy this situation.

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/on-us-infrastructure-spend-now-gain-later/1234943

More on the Congressional buck-passing over the transportation bill

http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/highways-bridges-and-roads/232607-highway-conference-leaders-trade-blame-for-negotiation-breakdown

Change of pace and direction:

Last month we did the “flasher routine” and exposed ourselves to you so you could see where we are going and why. Some of the changes have been implemented, others are being developed and still others need you or rather need your input.

Say buddy, can you lend us a hand?

What do we need? A picture of a job demonstrating the work being done; a few words describing the job; the location; your company name and your name. Keep the write-ups short because we’d like to run all the jobs that we get.  We’re going to call this ACP WorkZone USA. Send your job information to: Greg Sitek at workzone@acppubs.com

ACP WorkZone USA is YOUR section. It’s all about you and “your work zone,”what you’re doing. Big job, little job, it doesn’t matter, even if it’s your neighbor’s sewerline we want to know about it.

As for your thoughts, in every issue we will run a section, which we’ve named ACP OpinioNation. We’ll give you a couple topics and we’d like you to give us your opinion, an old fashion man-in-the-street type of survey. When you respond, please include a picture – mug shot type would be fine – your name and location. We started OpinioNation with these two topics:

Would a new multiyear Highway Trust Fund bill be beneficial to the industry, your local economy and the nation’s economy?

What kind of projects would be beneficial to the construction industry and local economy in your geographic area?

We’d like to add these two for this month:

Is social media – FaceBook, Twitter, Linkked In, etc. – useful and/or helpful in your business? If yes why and how?

What is the prinmary thing for which you most use the Internet – research, news, industry activities – in you business or profession?

Feel free to respond to any or all of the above topics. Don’t worry, if you don’t want us to include your name and/or photo we won’t but we would like to include your initials like, JR, Dallas, TX. Go ahead and stuff my mailbox and send your comments to:  Greg Sitek  at OpinioNation@acppubs.com