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Legislative Update for July 7, 2011

Legislative Update for July 7, 2011

This morning, Congressman John Mica, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee presented an outline of the Reauthorization bill he plans to introduce. When the actual legislative language will be unveiled is still uncertain and depends on the legislative agenda of the House Leadership.  The House is now pre-occupied with federal budget matters and the need to increase the federal debt ceiling. The section of the outline dealing with highway and motor carrier safety is attached.

For the first time in Committee history, the Chairman’s bill does not appear to have bi-partisan support. Ranking Member, Congressman Nick Rahall, and other Democrats on the Committee have objected to the overall lower funding level of the bill which is about $60 billion less than SAFETEA-LU authorized.

Chairman Mica did mention the possibility of another Committee hearing next Tuesday, July 12, to have further discussion of the issues presented in the outline.  However, introduction of the actual bill and Committee markup would probably not occur until September. The current extension of SAFETEA-LU expires on September 30 of this year.

The attached outline of the section on highway and motor carrier safety is very general and reveals little if any detail on what the full legislative proposal will look like.  Mr. Mica said that some issues had not been decided such as size and weight and the mandate of Electronic-On-Board Recorders.

Other than proposing programs that can be sustained by the current levels of revenue into the Highway Trust Fund, there was no discussion of specific funding levels for any of the DOT programs. Although Mr. Mica did say the bill would guarantee sufficient levels of funding for highway and motor carrier safety and that the safety programs would be held “somewhat harmless” from funding cuts. Hopefully, this means that at least the current levels of funding will maintained.

Probably the most significant proposal with respect to motor carrier safety is one that would consolidate grant programs and institute new performance measures for the states.  Again, we’ll have to wait for further details.

This morning was a “sneak preview.”  The full length feature is yet to come.