ACPA participated in a two recent meet & greet events with Members of Congress who were recently appointed to the House T&I Committee.
Leif Wathne participate in an event last week with Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS-03). The event was hosted by the American Highway Users Alliance and gave Policy and Government Affairs Committee members an opportunity to participate in the informal, virtual event with Rep. Guest, a second term US representative and, as mentioned, a new member of the House T&I Committee.
Leif reported that Rep. Guest noted his father is a civil engineer. He told the participants he is advocating for rural states in the Highway Bill reauthorization process and also has an interest in advancing broadband internet technology in rural areas. In his home state of Mississippi, he said some lottery proceeds are being used for highways, adding that the state is increasingly recognizing the importance of investing in infrastructure.
He expressed his hope that members of both parties will work together to get a robust legislative package passed. He added that he hopes the bill will allow flexibility for states and local agencies to spend money on their priorities, adding that he does not want the federal government to dictate spending.
He also stated he would be willing to consider raising the federal gas tax as long as the money is spent on roads and bridges. Taxes on electric vehicle charging stations along public highways and even a VAT tax are also options, “since everything we eat and use has been transported along our roadwork at some point.” He expressed a genuine desire to find a long-term funding solution to the HTF.
Leif also participated in a similar event for Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) yesterday. Rep. Johnson began his second term in the 117th Congress and is also a new appointee to the House T&I Committee.
“Infrastructure is near and dear to my heart,” he explained, adding that as chief of staff for former Governor Daugaard (R-SD), he was involved in advancing a state gas tax. “Those who have served in state legislatures know it is not that tough of a vote. People like their highways!”
“I’m excited about the challenges to come,” he said. “I also serve on the infrastructure group of the Problem Solvers Caucus [a bipartisan group whose goal is to find common ground on key issues in Congress]. There is a tremendous appetite for infrastructure.”
Rep. Johnson is optimistic about surface transportation as long as a bipartisan process is allowed to succeed. The next few weeks and months will be telling in this regard.
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