Congressman Larry Bucshon (IN-08) released the following comment in regards to the Conference Report on the Highway Bill. Congressman Bucshon is the only Hoosier on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a conferee on the Highway Bill Conference Committee.
Congressman Bucshon (IN-08) states:
"I was proud to represent Indiana's transportation needs on this conference committee and while the bill is not perfect, it is much better than existing law and includes major victories for Indiana. Indiana will see an increase in federal transportation funding, supporting projects like I-69, and over 28,000 Hoosier jobs are directly supported by this bill. Additionally, I am proud to have the Bingaman-Durbin provisions removed from the final version of this legislation. These provisions would have taken over $40 million per year from Indiana because of our public-private partnership on the Indiana Toll Road. This bill streamlines the environmental review process, consolidates and eliminates duplicative programs, and provides more flexibility to the states all while not raising taxes or using earmarks. I am proud to have eliminated more government red tape and bureaucracy while protecting thousands of Hoosier jobs."
Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica states:
"I would like to thank Congressman Bucshon for being the lead conferee fighting for a state's right to leverage their resources by pursuing public-private partnerships in transportation projects. States such as Indiana will no longer be punished financially for being creative with their limited resources and pursuing these types of cost-saving partnerships. Indiana's Toll Road lease is a leading example of the type of public-private partnership that states should be pursuing and now they will continue to be able to do so."
The House and Senate conferred on H.R. 4348 and S.B. 1813.
S.B. 1813 included a provision from Senators Bingaman and Durbin that would penalize states from receiving federal funding, if they had a road that had been leased. Governor Mitch Daniels spoke out against this provision in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post (hyperlink). From the beginning of the Conference Committee, Congressman Bucshon was an outspoken critic (hyperlink opening statement at conference) fighting against this punishment to state's pursuing common-sense partnerships that have funded projects such as I-69. Congressman Bucshon personally attended negotiating sessions with Senate Conferees to work out this issue. Congressman Bucshon's speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives can be viewed here.
This legislation will provide over $922 million of dollars in federal funding to Indiana for transportation projects for FY13, the same amount received for FY12. For FY14, every state will receive the same increase, the first time in history that there will be an across the board increase for every state, creating fairness among traditionally politically motivated funding formulas. Indiana's FY14 estimate is over $930 million, an increase in the rate of return to 97%, up from 92%.
This legislation includes hard deadlines for permit approvals for projects, limits the overreach from the federal government in state projects and no longer funds projects that don't move people or products. This legislation will provide the Indiana Department of Transportation, not the federal government, with more decision making power for Indiana transportation projects.
During markup of H.R. 7, Congressman Bucshon offered an amendment on RV benefiting Indiana's RV industry. This amendment was included in the final conference report. Because of new emission standards, RVs are becoming heavier vehicles and they were exceeding the weight limit allowed per axle, many were unable to travel on bridges because they were exceeding the per-axle weight limit. This will allow Indiana companies to continue making RVs at their current standards and allow American families to travel without fear of violating federal law regarding RVs.