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America's GPA: D+
Estimated Investment Needed by 2020:
$3.6 Trillion

Infrastructure Issues Kick Off 2017 State Legislative Sessions

January 9th, 2017 | By: Maria Matthews

By the end of this week 40 states will have begun their legislative sessions.  With it comes the pomp and circumstance of swearing in ceremonies, gubernatorial inaugurations, committee assignments and, most importantly, settling in to do great work for the people of their state. As we’ve previously looked at states gearing up to make major infrastructure decisions in 2017, we have already seen either discussion or movement in many legislatures.  Whether it’s a gubernatorial proposal or potential bill, here’s a taste of what we’re seeing coast to coast:
  • Indiana’s legislature will again explore the idea of increasing its gas tax this session. Just last week the House Republicans led by Speaker Brian Bosma introduced a long-term funding plan that includes a 10-cent per gallon gas tax increase.
  • New Mexico’s legislature will take up a bill that will give cities and counties the ability to consider gas tax increases to pay for road improvements at the local level. A bill giving cities and counties the option of putting up to a 5 cent per gallon tax increase on their local ballots has been introduced.
  • In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder (R) visited Flint to sign a bill into law that would requires quicker notification about elevated lead levels in the water.
  • Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton (D) has proposed a bonding bill that includes $1.5 billion in public construction projects. Many of these projects include infrastructure items like wastewater infrastructure repairs and road and bridge renovations.  The Governor’s proposal includes many projects that were approved by the legislature
  • Tennessee’s legislature will consider a proposal championed by Governor Bill Haslam (R) and the state’s Transportation Commissioner. The funding proposal includes a 9-cent per gallon gas tax increase and a 12-cent increase on diesel.
The action currently underway in these states trends with much of what we’re hearing from groups like the National Conference of State Legislatures and Council of State Governments. These group pull together both issues- and states-to-watch lists at the beginning of each session and infrastructure frequently sits near the top the list both nationally and individually.  To see the type of bills ASCE is following in your state visit our legislative tracking website and click on your state.

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2015 State Government Relations Year in Review

January 6th, 2016 | By: Maria Matthews

2015 once again proved that states are where the action is! Gavel to gavel, ASCE kept a watchful eye on legislative sessions in all 50 states, worked on ballot initiatives in 4 states, and travelled coast to coast educating members on how to engage elected officials, and reaching out to legislators to spread the message of the critical needs of our infrastructure. Here are just some of the highlights from the past year:
  • ASCE Members at Illinois State Drive-In

    ASCE Members at Illinois State Drive-In (April 2015)

    Tracking 1,300+ Bills: ASCE identified 54 priority bills in 31 states as well as tracked 1,308 bills and 308 regulations during the 2015 session. Login with your ASCE Member credentials to see the bills in your state at www.asce.org/multistate
  • Increasing State Transportation Revenues: ASCE Sections in 8 states (Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington) supported legislative efforts to successfully raise revenue for transportation infrastructure.
  • Protecting Professional Licenses: ASCE opposed bills in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, and Washington that would do away with all professional licenses. ASCE also worked with the Indiana Section to urge their Governor to reject elimination of professional licensure.
  • Holding State Capital Events: Legislative advocacy days were hosted at the capitols of Alaska, California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia.
    Inaugural State Advocacy Captains Training (June 2015)

    State Advocacy Captain Training (June 2015)

  • Training ASCE State Leaders: ASCE State Government Relations Staff held the first State Advocacy Captain training in June with members from 11 states and a second in November bringing members from 10 additional states into the fold.
  • Educating State Legislators: ASCE exhibited with the Washington Section at the National Conference of State Legislature’s Annual Legislative Summit and partnered on the Unmanned Aircraft Systems policy initiative. ASCE also sponsored two Council of State Government Transportation Policy Academies for state legislators and participated in the spring and summer National Lt. Governors Association meetings.
Read the full ASCE 2015 Year in Review here.

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What You Don't Know About Vermont's Dams

April 20th, 2015 | By: Infrastructure Report Card

What you probably don’t know about Vermont’s dams is that no one knows exactly what the condition of these structures is. Just as much as poor condition, it’s the lack of information that poses a risk to Vermont. This is the lesson Jessica Louisos, a civil engineer with the Waterbury firm Milone & MacBroom and a co-author of the Report Card for Vermont’s Infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers, shares in a new PBS interview.

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HBO comedy program, new rail legislation bring hope for infrastructure renewal

March 6th, 2015 | By: Olivia Wolfertz

When our nation’s infrastructure woes become the source of comedic entertainment on a major cable channel—it underscores that the problem must be addressed.  Fortunately, action on Capitol Hill pressing for funding legislation and transportation reform is already underway. It is not news that our nation’s roads, bridges and transit need maintenance, but when popular television shows bring these issues to light, they become harder to ignore. John Oliver’s HBO episode (containing adult content) featuring our nations “roads, bridges, dams … basically anything that can be destroyed in an action movie,” showcases deteriorating infrastructure conditions in a comedic yet effective manner.  He highlights the widespread need for all areas of America’s infrastructure to be addressed, reminding us of daily water main breaks, cracks in bridge support beams and other evidences of needed infrastructure repair. Secretary Foxx took center stage on the issue this week, speaking to the Senate Commerce Committee and promoting the Obama Administration’s funding plan for a six-year, $478 billion surface transportation bill which would be funded through a new tax on overseas corporate earnings. In addition to surface transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta urged lawmakers to create stable, long-term funding and “operational flexibility” in reauthorizing legislation set to be debated in Congress this year. Huerta underscored the Obama Administration’s support for raising passenger facility charges (PFCs) to $8.00 per leg, per flight which is in line with ASCE’s policy recommendation. This funding would go towards airport modernization and traveler experience upgrades. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed by an overwhelming margin (316-101), bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize national passenger rail programs for a four-year period. The bill seeks to reform Amtrak by reducing costs, creating greater accountability and transparency, leveraging private sector resources, and accelerating rail project delivery.  “The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act will vastly improve commuter and passenger rail systems across the country, helping save American families’ time and money in transportation costs,” said Jeff Denham, chairman of the hazardous materials subcommittee of the transportation and infrastructure committee. While funding legislation for aviation and Amtrak is encouraging, it is still critical that Congress work quickly to pass legislation to provide a sustainable, long-term funding solution to #FixTheTrustFund.

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Vermont Section Supporting Transportation Funding Plan

March 15th, 2013 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

ASCE’s Vermont Section has been active over the last week in support of a proposed transportation funding plan that includes an increase in the state’s gas tax.  The Section sent a letter last week to the Governor, legislative leaders and members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees in support.  Additionally, ASCE has issued a key alert on the proposal, asking members to contact legislators in support of the proposal.   The $32 million revenue package was approved this week by the House Transportation Committee by a 10-0 vote.  The bill moves next to the House Ways and Means Committee, which reviews all tax proposals. Read more: Burlington Free Press 3/13/13

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Another Win for ASCE State Legislative Efforts

March 1st, 2013 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

Last week we highlighted a win for ASCE in Wisconsin and brought up the possibility of success in Virginia. Well, last Saturday, February 23, the Virginia General Assembly ended it’s annual session with passage of a sweeping transportation deal.  On the last day of the session, the Senate gave its blessing to a plan that dramatically overhauls the way Virginians will pay for roads, highways and mass transit.  As you know, the Virginia Section sent a letter to the Governor and legislative leaders encouraging them to finish the job and pass a transportation plan for the state before the session ends.  ASCE also issued a Key Alert to members in Virginia urging them to contact state legislators. Read more about the Virginia deal here Let’s take a moment to recognize and congratulate our members for working at the local level!    

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ASCE contributes to legislative success in Wisconsin. Will Virginia be next?

February 21st, 2013 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

Last week ASCE sent a Key Alert to its members in Wisconsin urging passage of legislation that would allow an amendment to the state constitution to protect transportation funding.  The passed measure, Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 2, allows the citizens of Wisconsin to vote on amending the state constitution to protect transportation funds intended for transportation from being “raided” for other uses by the state government.  AJR 2 passed the Wisconsin Assembly earlier this month and this past week on February 20, 2013 the state Senate voted 25-8 to amend the constitution. , a move that This ensures this issue will be decided by the citizens of Wisconsin by referendum in November 2014.  If passed by the voters voters approve a restriction of such spending, the constitution will be amended, protecting Wisconsin’s transportation funds in that state in the future. Read about the Wisconsin bill here February 22, ASCE sent a Key Alert to its members that live in Virginia asking them to contact their legislators to support the compromise in favor of multi-year transportation bill that was completed agreed to yesterday.  The 100-member House and 40-member Senate have just days to act on the bill. If it fails to garner 51 votes in the House and 21 in the Senate by the time the legislative session ends this Saturday, February 23, one of Virginia’s most pressing problems will again go unaddressed. Read about the Virginia bill here What will happen?  Find out next week!  

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House Guts EPA Spending on Infrastructure to Curtail Regulations

June 22nd, 2012 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

A House subcommittee has approved a spending bill for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fiscal year 2013 that seeks to drastically cut back on new federal environmental rules through the simple expedient of imposing major budget cuts on the agency.  In years past House Republicans used prohibitory language in appropriations acts to bar the EPA from spending money to write or carry out certain rules opposed by business interests.  
Far easier now to simply eliminate funding for large parts of the agency’s programs.  The $28 billion appropriations bill that was marked up in subcommittee on Wednesday provides only $7 billion for the EPA in FY 2013.  This represents a 17 percent cut that would bring environmental funding to a level below the FY 1998 total.  The bill caps the number of agency employees at their lowest level since 1992.
“The bill reins in funding and out-of-control regulation at the EPA and reduces overall spending for the third year in a row,” according to a press release from Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), chair of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill reduces the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund for wastewater infrastructure by $778 million, or more than half from FY 2012, to $689 million, and cuts the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund by $89 million to $829 million. “Despite the hyperbole of some of my Republican friends, EPA programs and regulations did not cause this recession, and tying the hands of this important agency certainly won’t get us out — that idea is as fictional as recent reports of EPA drones,” said Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. The bill adopts a new tack by House Republicans, who added numerous amendments to the FY 2012 act that were designed to roll back or limit EPA regulation.   The Republican leadership had to pull the FY 2012 bill last year amid a surge of amendments.   Republicans were forced to put the EPA spending bill in an omnibus appropriations measure that largely spared the agency from deep cuts.  
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Transportation Appropriations Heading to House Floor

June 20th, 2012 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

The House Appropriations Committee marked up the Transportation and Housing & Urban Development appropriations bill, which passed by voice vote. The bill’s overall total of $51.6 billion in discretionary spending would be $3.9 billion less than fiscal 2012 and $1.9 billion less than the president’s request, however due to the current economic climate the cuts are not too bad. Overall, the House was kind to transportation programs, maintaining investment for highways and making minor increases for the FAA and Amtrak. One of the bigger cuts in the House bill is the zeroing out of the discretionary TIGER program, which provides grants for infrastructure projects that have national or regional significance. The full spending breakdown can be seen here:
  • Highways – Provides $39.1 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent, the same level as last year and $2.7 billion below the President’s request.
  • Air – The FAA would receive $12.6 billion, $91 million above last year’s level. The bill also provides nearly $1 billion for NextGen and rejects the Administration’s proposal for new aviation fees.
  • Rail – The Federal Railroad Administration is funded with $2 billion, which is $384 million above last year’s level and $716 million below the President’s request. This funding includes $1.8 billion for Amtrak, to be primarily used for capital improvements.
  • Transit – The Federal Transit Administration would receive $2 billion, which is $181 million below last year’s level and $546 million below the President’s request. The bill would also provide $1.8 billion for the “New Starts” program.
  • Maritime – The bill includes $338 million for the Maritime Administration, a decline of $12 million from last year and $7 million below the President’s request.
  • Safety – The bill includes $776 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a decrease of $23.8 million from last year; $551 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a decrease of $2.6 million from last year; and $177 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration, an increase of $4 million from last year.
The bill will likely be considered on the House floor next week, but knowing Congress things could change!

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