2015-16 POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
The SASHTO Board of Directors met on August 4, 2015 and approved resolutions summarized in this Policy and Legislation Agenda. The full text of the resolutions is at Resolutions2015.pdf.
MAP-21 Reauthorization — the current program structure and performance-based approach to transportation decision-making must be given sufficient time for an effective implementation. Congress should reauthorize MAP-21 for at least four years with increased funding and maximum flexibility for states to address their unique mobility and access needs.
Transportation Funding — because the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is experiencing a deficit between receipts and outlays averaging $17 billion per year and in light of concerns over HTF sustainability, SASHTO urges Congress to consider an investment level to equal and maintain the 1993 revenue levels (adjusted for inflation) from federal motor fuel taxes and other HTF revenue sources.
Toll Interoperability — with growing interest among states to explore toll financing as a method to address current and future transportation improvement needs, SASHTO states should promote electronic toll collection interoperability among the toll agencies of their respective states and others. The development of enforceable reciprocity rules through state laws and/or regulations is also recommended.
National Highway System — MAP-21 added functionally local routes that do not meet the system intent of the NHS nor provide any significant regional, state or national purpose. This imposes undue additional requirements on states including data collection, outdoor advertisement and junkyard control regulations and more stringent design standards. Congress should revise the present system modification process to allow States, in consultation with local officials, to selectively remove and add mileage from the NHS in line with the appropriate system criteria.
Wetland Preservation — under present regulations minimal credit is given to preservation of wetlands associated with infrastructure projects. SASHTO urges an approach with greater recognition for the value of wetland preservation, and seeks to amend the Clean Water Act with greater consideration of the preservation of existing natural wetland areas as a suitable means of mitigating infrastructure projects.
Transportation Alternatives Program Projects — the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) prohibits state sponsorship of projects (a prohibition that did not exist for predecessor programs). SASHTO urges elimination of the unnecessary prohibition and recommends that states be allowed to use up to 50% of the TAP apportionment for eligible activities at the State DOT’s discretion. Congress should also allow TAP funds to be used for administrative costs as allowed in similar programs.
Transportation and the Economy — SASHTO recommends an expanded federal, state and private sector collaboration to reinvest in transportation infrastructure at levels that would steadily reduce the backlog of needs, reduce the cost of congestion, and spur economic growth. Congress should advance legislation that promotes and incentivizes varied public-private partnerships and private investments to expand transportation revenue.
Accelerated Project Delivery and Environmental Streamlining — SASHTO urges the federal government to continue efforts to accelerate project delivery and environmental streamlining, and to continue to direct, influence, and manage initiatives and improvements to further expedite environmental evaluations and decision-making and reduce unproductive regulatory burdens.
Tax Exempt Transportation Financing — the current financing of the federal surface transportation program is not sustainable and won’t address current and future transportation needs. SASHTO supports providing access to tax-exempt transportation financing, by increasing the federal volume cap on Private Activity Bonds. This will bring much needed private investment in transportation infrastructure.
Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (TIFIA) — TIFIA credit assistance for major transportation investments provides enhanced access to capital markets, flexible repayment terms, and favorable interest rates. (SASHTO) believes that the TIFIA program is an essential element in meeting the nation’s transportation needs and urges that it be sustained at current levels.
National Performance Measures — SASHTO states are committed to performance management and performance measurement, but strongly oppose using performance measures to apportion federal funds among the states. SASHTO urges Congress to require that three state performance reporting cycles be completed before considering further changes to performance measures. States and MPOs should also have maximum flexibility in setting performance targets.
Leading Transportation Change and Innovation — States are laboratories for innovation. SASHTO states will continue to be innovation leaders creating, implementing and sharing solutions to meet the transportation challenges of today and the future. SASHTO will partner with all levels of government and other stakeholders to foster an innovative and collaborative problem solving climate.
New Partnerships — SASHTO states commit to greater collaboration with the Southern Governors Association, the Southern Legislative Conference, the private sector and others to advocate common transportation policies, strategies, and solutions to meet our transportation needs.
Truck Size and Weight Laws — SASHTO opposes any legislation that would result in greater damage to the nation’s highways. A study of truck size and weight impacts mandated by MAP-21 was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014. The study, when completed, will be reviewed by the SASHTO Strategic Transportation Issues Committee.