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Business Groups Push Feds on Fuel Tax
Congress returned this week with a long list of issues to address – including infrastructure. While there will be many options on the table for any federal funding package, a user fee approach should be taken.

The US Chamber of Commerce is among many business and industry groups in DC urging Congress to support a federal fuel tax increase. However, they too are facing the same opposition that many states have faced when it comes to anti-tax groups and the lack of political will.

The federal fuel tax has not been adjusted since 1993 and has lost a significant amount of buying power over the years. Sounds familiar, right? The federal government now finds itself in the position that many states are in – the need to increase and diversify funding mechanisms for infrastructure. 

SCFOR spoke with DC-based reporter, David Lightman, last week about the business community's push for a federal fuel tax.  Lightman was curious as to how under Republican control, SC legislators were able to take a bipartisan approach and overwhelmingly pass legislation that included a fuel tax increase.

SCFOR credited success to the support from businesses and industries which supported the increase in SC's fuel tax. We acknowledged that gas and diesel taxes are not going away and an adjustment in the federal fuel tax is something that we would support.  While the article focuses on the national conversation, it is clear that the same issues states have faced to pass legislation will only be amplified at the federal level. 

With the partisan divide in Congress and anti-tax groups like Americans for Prosperity digging in deep, any new infrastructure funding from a fuel tax (or any other user fee for that matter) will be nothing short of an uphill battle. The good news is if there is one issue capable of bringing Congress together, it's infrastructure. 

Read the article here. 
Urge Senators to Advance Reauthorization Bill
The Senate’s highway reauthorization bill, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019was expedited out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in July.  The $287 billion bill would fund the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges over five years and increases spending by 27% over the current authorization.

Many hope the Senate will pass the bill before the end of the year.  However, the bill must go through other committees, including Banking, Commerce, and most importantly, Finance.  

You are encouraged to CONTACT YOUR SENATORS and urge them to advance the bill and act on a permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund.  This solution should maintain the framework that users of the system should pay for the system. 

The time is now to seize the opportunity and make Highway Trust Fund revenue shortfalls a thing of the past and robust infrastructure investment the future.
Take Action!
Click the button above to email your elected officials quickly and easily through ATRBA's grassroots action center.
Upcoming SCDOT Public Information Meetings

Thursday, September 19, 2019
Proposed US 278 Corridor Improvements - Moss Creek Dr to Spanish Wells Rd in Beaufort County 
Click here for details.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
 SC 61 Rural Road Safety Project in Dorchester County
Click here for details
Download Registration
Sponsors as of 9/12/19
Colorado Voters Express Support for Using Surplus Monies on Roads
A recent survey conducted shows that 54 percent of Colorado voters intend to vote yes to allow the state to keep revenue it would otherwise have to refund to taxpayers under the rules of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR).  Thirty percent of voters said they plan to vote no on the measure and 15 percent were undecided.

The question will be on the November 5 ballot and asks voters to allow the state to keep the extra revenue for the identified purposes in specific proportions:
·      One-third of the extra money must be used for public schools.
·      One third must be used for higher education.
·      One third is to be spent on the combined category of roads, bridges, and transit.

The results of the survey varied widely by party affiliation, with 72 percent of Democratic voters surveyed saying that they intend to vote yes compared with only 32 percent of Republicans.  More information on the survey can be found here.
Texas Approves $77 Billion Spending Plan
The Texas Transportation Commission recently approved the $77 billion 2020 Unified Transportation Program (UTP) submitted by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on August 29. The plan will guide the agency’s transportation strategy over the next decade.

The UTP contains more than $4 billion targeted explicitly towards safety improvements, including an extra $600 million for the next two years to help accelerate more safety measures to reduce crashes and eliminate fatalities from Texas roadways by 2050.

TxDOT noted that a wide variety of infrastructure projects are incorporated within the UTP including widening roads; improving median barriers and bridges; upgrading guardrails; providing intersection improvements, such as upgrading traffic signals and signage; and making safety improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Kentucky Considering Mileage-Based Fees
Ahead of next year's legislative session, a special task force is taking a hard look at new ways to generate road money, including charging drivers based on how far they travel, not the amount of gas they pump.

Per-mile funding is in its infancy in the United States. Oregon is the only state where this method is used regularly. They have a voluntary program that lets drivers pay 1.7 cents per mile using GPS tracking or other technology to receive a credit on state gas taxes.

Utah plans to let drivers of alternative-fuel vehicles choose a per-mile payment instead of a flat registration fee starting in 2020.  Hawaii launched a three-year test of mileage fees earlier this year. California, Colorado, Minnesota, and Nevada are among other states that have done trials but stopped short of enacting permanent fees.

Kentucky's interest in a mileage-based program comes after state lawmakers balked at raising the state's gas tax earlier this year.

In May, Republican leaders created the task force. Besides legislators, the group includes representatives from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the state Finance and Administration Cabinet, and the Governor's office.  

The task force must submit "findings and strategies and any proposed legislation" by late November.  Read the full story here. 
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