Government Affairs

Pennsylvania Chapter Drives Competition Message

Chuck Niederriter, Golden Triangle Construction (and past-Chairman of both the ACPA Board and the Pennsylvania Chapter Board) presented formal remarks before the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee last week.  The focus of the meeting was a discussion about the usage of concrete and asphalt pavement with PennDOT and Turnpike. 

From the outset of his comments, Chuck emphasized the importance of competition, noting that inter-industry competition saves money for taxpayers and highway users in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania Chapter President John Becker provided supporting remarks during the meeting. 

The full hearing can be viewed at: http://www.pahousegop.com/Video/Transportation.  The concrete pavement portion is in the video link marked ‘September 17th’ and appears between markers 40 to 85.  

In related news, some members of the Transportation Committee were among the industry members and other invited guests to participate in a reception on Monday of this week at the Federal Tap House in Harrisburg.  Chapter members had the opportunity to speak one-on-one about the concrete pavement industry, transportation funding and their individual company’s interests with Commonwealth legislators representing each  side of the aisle from both the House and Senate.  Leif Wathne of ACPA participated in the event on behalf of ACPA.

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NACA to Provide Comments on Climate Crisis

ACPA and other partners of the North American Concrete Alliance* will be providing comments to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.  

This collaborative effort will provide information representing the cement and concrete industry’s perspectives and positions on climate change and related matters. 

The U.S. House created this select committee to “investigate, study, make findings, and develop recommendations on policies, strategies, and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis, which will honor our responsibility to be good stewards of the planet for future generations.”

The committee has received recommendations from young climate leaders, policy specialists, business leaders, and state and local officials at meetings and hearings held in Washington, D.C., and around the country. To supplement its ongoing work, the committee officials sought additional detailed input from a broad range of stakeholders, including the cement and concrete industry.

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The North American Concrete Alliance is a coalition of 12 concrete-related associations formed in 2004 for the purpose of addressing industry-wide concerns & initiatives in the areas of research, safety, education, and government affairs. The coalition is comprised of the American Concrete Pavement Association, American Concrete Pipe Association, American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association, American Concrete Pumping Association, Concrete Foundations Association, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, National Concrete Masonry Association, National Precast Concrete Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Portland Cement Association, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, and Tilt-Up Concrete Association.

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News from Capitol Hill

This is the latest installment of highlights of PCA’s “This Week in Washington” update. Interested in seeing more?  Become an ACPA Advocacy Interest Member.* Advocacy Interest Members are eligible to participate in the Legislative Issues Committee (LIC). Click here to join!

  • Congressional leaders are negotiating to stop a government shutdown before October 1 by passing a continuing resolution (CR). The CR would likely extend current funding levels through mid-November.  The House may vote on a CR as early as this week. 
  • The House Highways and Transit Subcommittee held another hearing on reauthorizing the FAST Act, this time emphasizing congestion pricing. Congestion pricing is a way to raise additional revenue and to address concerns that a vehicle miles traveled fee could unfairly penalize rural residents. Democrats and Republicans raised concerns about this topic. Some Representatives used the hearing to express their support for moving forward with a long-term reauthorization bill. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04) emphasized the need for long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, along with updating underlying policies within the surface transportation program.
  •  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a plan to split $1.3 trillion in discretionary sending for FY20 across 12 appropriations bills. For the bill that funds the Department of Transportation, the committee allocated $74.3 billion, which is $1.5 billion less than the bill passed by the House.

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* Advocacy Interest Membership is a special individual membership category. To be eligible for membership in this category, a member must be a stockholder, owner, director, or employee of a member admitted to any other class of membership (Article IV, Section a-i, and l). In addition, to become and remain eligible, individuals must affirm their Advocacy Interest Membership annually.

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FMCSA Amends HOS Requirements

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) last week formally amended some outdated hours-of-service (HOS) requirements, removing provisions that required 34-hour restart, which included two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The requirement also limited the use of a restart to once every 168 hours.

In a series of appropriations acts, Congress suspended the provisions, pending completion of a naturalistic study.  Completed in 2017, the study found no statistically significant benefits from the restart rule. A 2017 appropriations act voided the restart rules, but the provisions remained in the Code of Federal Regulations until last week. The FMCSA’s action on September 12 was intended to avoid confusion. 

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Road Gang Focuses on Senate Transportation Bill

At the biweekly meeting of The Road Gang* in Washington, DC, last week, members of the group heard from U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staff, who discussed the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 (ATIA).

As proposed, ATIA authorizes $287 billion over five years, including $259 billion for formula programs to maintain and repair America’s roads and bridges. The total represents a substantial  increase over FAST Act levels. The legislation includes provisions to improve road safety, streamline project delivery, protect the environment and grow the economy. 

As we reported previously (ACPA TODAY, July 31), the federal Highway R&D Program, including the Technology and Innovation Deployment program, also gets substantial bumps in the Senate proposal (22.7% and 100%, respectively). With those increases, the ACPA-led AID-PT program** ($12M/year for concrete and asphalt technology implementation and deployment, that helps fund the majority of CP Tech Center’s federal contracts) is included and “enhanced” with some additional reporting requirements.

The funding and financing portions of the bill (not within Senate EPW’s jurisdiction), are also in the process of being developed. Committee staff are hopeful financing can be rolled together into a package that can be introduced and voted on in the next several months. 

It is important to acknowledge that the Senate EPW Committee delivered a surface reauthorization bill more than a year early, and should be commended for their leadership, says Leif Wathne, who adds this is one of several proposals that will be advanced in the normal process of eventually reaching agreement among lawmakers in both Chambers of Congress and the White House.  

ACPA remains fully committed to working with both the Senate and the House to produce and pass a robust, effective final reauthorization before the expiration of the FAST Act next year.

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*  The Road Gang is an informal group of business and government executives, highway engineers and consultants, press and public relations specialists, company representatives, and trade association officials from the highway transportation industry in the Washington, D.C. area. The Road Gang serves the dual purpose of promoting fellowship and providing for the interchange of ideas among “Washington’s Transportation Fraternity.”

** The Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) is a provision first included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP 21).  This ACPA-led initiative created both a mechanism and funding for the delivery of pavement technology.  In 2015, Congress included the program in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which provides funding through 2020.

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