Government Affairs

ACPA Participates in AASHTO COMP Meeting

The AASHTO Committee on Materials and Pavements (COMP) presents an opportunity for state highway officials to discuss key issues, and in recent years, the committee has invited industry participation. At the COMP meeting in Baltimore, MD, this week, Leif Wathne presented an update on the concrete pavement industry, starting his presentation with an historical perspective on the Maryland Road Test One-MD, a series of tests performed on concrete pavement sections near La Plata, MD, in 1950.  The tests, which used continuous truck traffic under controlled conditions, helped inform the experimental design for the much better known AASHO Road Test, conducted several years later in Ottawa, IL.

Wathne then transitioned form the past to the present and future, with discussions aimed at leadership, stewardship, and life-cycle thinking. He also presented a bright and healthy outlook for the concrete pavement industry and ACPA, drawing on information about the association’s VISION2040 outlook and plan, as well as ways the Association is planning for the future with our Interns for the Future and Emerging Leaders Group. He also commented on PavementDesigner.org, usage of which continues to grow worldwide, and of course, throughout the four AASHTO regions. He concluded his remarks with discussion about other ACPA resources, including the FHWA-sponsored pavement preservation courses currently in final development.

In other COMP business, the pavement related committees discussed the impact of flooding and inundation on the performance of pavements, critical research to support the growing interest in resilient construction. In the year ahead, the committee also plans revisions on AASHTO’s local calibration guide and pavement friction testing.

Tom Yu of the FHWA provided an update on FHWA’s ongoing pavement policy review, into which ACPA has provided detailed input and comments. Yu reported some of the FHWA’s key pavement-related initiatives, including pavement preservation, cost effectiveness, effective foundation design for concrete pavements, and a design catalog based on AASHTO’s ME Pavement Design program. He also reported on the Concrete Clips series of seven YouTube videos, adding that there are plans to produce ten more videos. ACPA has promoted the series heavily in our news and social media channels.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

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!

  • At the Democratic party’s second Presidential debates on July 31 and August 1, there were some common signs of agreement. The candidates expressed support for bringing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, significant economic changes with measures to help workers transition, and trillions of dollars of federal investment in technology and infrastructure.
  • Following the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Bipartisan Budget Actof 2019 (by a vote of 67 to 28), the bill was signed by President Donald Trump on August 2. The two-year budget deal sets spending levels, prevents $125 billion in automatic funding cuts, and extends the debt ceiling.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to amend requirements for storing and handling coal ash for beneficial reuse. Instead of raising the current 12.4-ton beneficial use storage threshold to address a math error in the current rule (raised by PCA and others in prior comments), EPA is proposing to replace the beneficial use exception with generic, location-based standards and risk-based containment requirements. Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 60-day comment period.
  • President Trump announced on August 1 that he will impose a 10% tariff on some $300 billion worth of Chinese goods starting September 1. This expansion mostly covers consumer goods.
  • The Federal Reserve announced a quarter-point point cut to the federal funds rate on July 31. The rate is what banks and other similar institutions charge one another for short-term borrowing. Central banks in other countries also have cut interest rates, a sign of monetary policy easing.

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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.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

 

ACPA Presents Views on Senate EPW Passage of Transportation Bill

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee on Tuesday unanimously voted to approve the draft transportation reauthorization bill, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA). ATIA provides $287 billion in contract authority over five years beginning at the expiration of the FAST Act on September 30, 2020.

Proposed funding levels for core highway programs are:
• FY 20- $43.373 billion (Fast Act level)
• FY 21 – $47.86 billion
• FY 22 – $48.83 billion
• FY23 – $49.85 billion
• FY24 – $50.91 billion
• FY25 – $51.98 billion

Most of the funds (90%) will be distributed by the FAST Act formula with provisos ensuring each state receives back 95% of the amount of motor fuels and other taxes paid into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Each state is guaranteed a 2% increase over FY 2020 FAST Act levels and at least a 1% increase in each subsequent year.

In broad strokes, ACPA is very supportive of this bill, which increases the Federal-Aid formula-program significantly by an average of 15%, or $6.5B/yr. 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.** ACPA believes these additional reporting requirements under the AID-PT program can be helpful to the concrete pavement industry.

It is important to acknowledge that the Senate EPW Committee delivered a surface reauthorization bill ahead of schedule; the FAST Act expires next year. Although this EPW Committe action is the first of many that will be needed to advance a plan to the President, 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. According to reports by Politico, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has signaled receptiveness to reserving floor time for the ATIA bill this coming fall. ACPA will keep members informed about possible calls to action in this regard.
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* 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. ACPA also advocated for a similar research provision was included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Sec. 744. Research and deployment of certain airfield pavement technologies.

** Additional reporting requirements include: pavement monitoring and data collection; pavement durability and resilience; stormwater management; vehicle efficiency; the energy efficiency of the production of paving materials; evidence of the ability of paving materials to enhance the environment and promote sustainability; and integration of renewable energy in pavement designs

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

ACPA Signs on To Letter Supporting PFC Reform

ACPA has signed on to a letter to Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY-04) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03) expressing “strong support” of H.R. 3791, the Investing in America: Rebuilding America’s Airport Infrastructure Act. Rep. Massie, a member of the of the House T&I Committee, and Rep. Blumenauer, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, introduced the bill in mid-July.

The bill would eliminate the federally imposed cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) and provide airports with the ability to locally determine their own PFC rates based on their unique infrastructure needs.

Sent on behalf of the Beyond the Runway Coalition,* the letter states, “Congress last adjusted the PFC cap to $4.50 in 2000, but with inflation and rising construction costs , the purchasing power of the PFC has significantly eroded to barely $2.25. As a result, many airports have reached their debt capacity and either cannot finance new projects or have had to stretch their projects over a longer time frame, increasing the costs and delaying the benefits for passengers.”

The letter adds that eliminating the anti-competitive federal cap on PFCs would allow airports across the country to become more financially self-sufficient. “It is important to note that PFCs are not taxes, but rather local user fees determined locally and used locally to improve the passenger experience and spur airline competition,” the letter continues. Click here to see the letter.

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* The Airport Council International’s Beyond the Runway Coalition is comprised of a wide range of aviation industry stakeholders seeking to ensure that airports remain strong economic engines and job centers in their local communities.  The 77 member organizations are aligned in support of modernizing airport infrastructure financing to ensure airports in the United States have the resources they need to remain competitive, thriving hubs of economic opportunity.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

 

News from Capitol Hill

This is the latest installment of highlights of PCA’s “This Week in Washington” update by Rachel Derby, PCA Vice President of Legislative Affairs. 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!

  • Topping the legislative news this week is the Senate EPW Committee’s passage of the proposed transportation reauthorization bill.  Click here for details and ACPA’s perspectives.

In other news from Washington, DC …

  • By a vote of 52-40, the U.S. Senate confirmed Steve Dickson to be the next FAA administrator. The FAA has had an acting administrator for the past year.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (BBA, H.R. 3877) in a vote of 284 to 149. The $2.7 trillion bill sets budget levels for two years and prevents $125 billion in automatic cuts that were part of a 2011 budget agreement. It also suspends the debt ceiling for two years. The Transportation Construction Coalition and the Highway Materials Group have expressed support, seeking for the agreement to include a provision to cancel the $7.6 billion highway contract authority rescission scheduled to take effect July 1, 2020.
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced legislation to repeal the rescission of $7.6 billion in federal-aid contract authority that is currently set to take place on July 1, 2020. PCA has weighed in with Congressional leadership in support of a repeal.
  • The House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials held a roundtable with railroad shippers. Mmembers of the subcommittee heard from rail shippers who expressed concerns about demurrage fees and precision-scheduled railroading. Members of the Surface Transportation Board were present to hear the points made by witnesses. Demurrage is costing cement company members money in terms of what railroads charge, and adding to the expense, precision-scheduled railroading is not guaranteeing shipments are shippedat specified times.  

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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.

Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

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