Ask and you shall receive...
Last week, the Partnership joined with peer chambers in the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition (GLMCC) in Washington to lobby for passage of a multi-year comprehensive transportation bill. Yesterday, the House Transportation Committee released the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, which incorporates most of the principles that our coalition expressed needed to be part of the legislation, including:
- Authorize approximately $260 billion over five years to fund federal highway, transit and safety programs, consistent with current funding levels
- Provide long-term stability for states to undertake major infrastructure projects
- Allow states to set their own transportation priorities
- Condense deadlines for federal agency project approvals
- Encourage states to partner with the private sector to finance and build projects
- Streamline the project delivery process and reduces regulatory burdens for rail projects
One piece on our advocacy agenda that didn't make it into the legislation (yet!) is inclusion of H.R. 104, which would require that funds collected from fees imposed on shippers through the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) would have to be used for... get this... harbor maintenance. Our intel tells us that there is widespread willingness to see this happen, but procedural issues related may be in the way. This week - and however how long it takes past that - we will be pushing for the transportation bill to be amended to include H.R. 104.
Introduction of the House transportation bill is an important step, as now there's a starting point for the House and Senate to come together. No matter who we talked to in Washington, there was universal belief that a transportation bill was the fastest avenue to job creation, and in our view nowhere would it have greater impact than in the Great Lakes states. This is our coalition's top federal priority.
More to come...