Senate Passes Their Version of Temporary Federal Transportation Funding

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The US Senate voted last night to pass their version of a short term extension of MAP-21 and some federal funds to cover the expenses of the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to run out of money within days or weeks. Last week, the House passed a version that would have made the extension through May 2015. However, the Senate yesterday added some pressure by only funding transportation until December 19, 2014. Therefore, creating a greater sense of urgency to come up with a long term plan to fund that nation’s infrastructure. The House now has only two days to accept the changes to continue to try and negotiate before they leave for August recess at the conclusion of session this Thursday, July 31st.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Temporary Fix for Federal Transportation Crisis Passes House

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a temporary spending bill that would fund the Highway Trust Fund and extend MAP-21 until May 2015. The bill, HR 5021, would inject $10.9 Billion into the fund, which was projected to run out of money within weeks. The House’s proposal gets the funding from “pension smoothing,” customs user fees, and an account which was set to be used for leaking underground storage tanks.The bill now heads to the Senate for passage. There are positive indications that the Senate will support the measure, as there are only two weeks left until Congress leaves for their August recess.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

New MEDC Grant – Public Spaces Community Places – Application Process Open

Applications are now live for the new crowdfunding place-based grant program! The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the League have teamed up with Patronicity, a locally-based crowdfunding platform, to develop Public Spaces Community Places, a new matching grant program for place-based initiatives that utilize crowdfnding. Through Patronicity, communities and non-profits can raise donations to revitalize or create public spaces, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will match funds raised dollar for dollar, up to $100,000, if they can reach their goal. Crowdfunding is an easy and innovative way for community projects to gain public interest and raise money by being able to leverage donations of all sizes.

This is the first program of its kind in the country, where local residents can be part of the development of transformational projects in their communities and be backed with matching dollars by the State. The grant program is available to municipalities and non-profits for projects that focus on activation of public spaces such as an outdoor plaza or park enhancements, alley activation, etc.

You can find the application guide on CrowdfundingMI.com. For the online application, click here.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Federal Transportation Department Tells State Transportation Departments Money is Running Out

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has sent a letter to all State Department of Transportation Directors letting them know that because of the funding shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, reduced payments to states will begin starting August 1st absent Congressional action in order to manage cash flow. The letter is attached below.

There is still no solution agreed upon by Congress. However, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees leadership are meeting to focus on a short term fix that will fund transportation through the end of the fiscal year. The Congressional Budget Office has been warning officials that the Trust Fund would be insolvent in August for the past year. We will continue to keep you posted as this issue progresses and as further impacts are known.

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Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Award for Enterprising City/State for Sustainable Transportation Available through MobiPrize Until July 7th!

MobiPrize, an award program through SMART (Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research and Transformation) at the University of Michigan, has added a City/State category to their sustainable transportation awards this year. The deadline for the applications is July 7th. The award is for cities that have demonstrated active efforts to build a culture of innovation and encourage entrepreneurship in sustainable transportation through enabling policy changes, capacity building, data sharing, funding (ppp) and other resource allocation efforts, etc.

To access the flyer with additional details, click here. And, to visit the website, click here.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Federal Transportation Funding Remains in Danger of Becoming Insolvent

Congress is unfortunately not any closer to solving the federal transportation crisis. The Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of funding within weeks, yet Congress can’t agree on either a long term solution or short term fix. Recently, Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn) and Patrick Murphy (D-Conn) proposed legislation to boost the federal gas and diesel taxes by 12 cents per gallon over two years, but there is not much optimism that this solution would be considered in time to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent or before MAP-21 expired at the end of September.

There will be growing pressure on Congress to act soon and most expect a very temporary solution to get Congress through until after the November election, which is not great news for local communities, looking at long term planning for transportation projects.

The League will keep you posted on any updates regarding this issue in the coming weeks.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Federal Workforce Bill

The Senate passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, H.R. 803 by a margin of 95-3, sending the bill back to the House for action as soon as the next week. WIOA reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 by retaining many positive aspects of the program, while updating and streamlining others in a positive way.

The bill maintains and enhances the role of local elected officials in their local workforce development programs and guarantees funding for the program for the next six years. In addition, the new components ensure the effectiveness of local one stop centers, by requiring a full range of partner organizations to locate in the one stop including unemployment insurance, veteran’s employment, adult education, welfare and other services. It also allows for the creation of regional workforce development areas based on labor markets rather than political jurisdictions, but only with the agreement of local elected officials.

Both Senators Stabenow and Levin supported the bill. The League will keep you updated on action on this issue in the House.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

 

 

EPA extends Comment Period for Proposed “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced they are extending the deadline for comments regarding their proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule until October 20th. The proposed rule would change the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” in the Clean Water Act, which determines jurisdiction of water bodies under the CWA, impacting permitting and other CWA requirements.

Under the proposed rule, all tributaries and adjacent waters would  be considered jurisdictional, as well as “other waters” that would have to meet a “significant nexus” threshold in order to fall into that category as well.  There are other changes that you can find by going to the National League of Cities resource page here and scrolling down to the Clean Water Act portion.

Communities can submit comments for this rule, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 online by clicking here or by emailing ow-docket@epa.gov and including EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 in the subject line of the message.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Free Webinar from NLC – What’s Walking Got to do With it?

The National League of Cities is Hosting a Free Webinar on Walkability!

What’s Walking Got to do With it? A Look at the Economic and Social Impact of Walkability

Thursday, June 19 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm EDT

To register click here.

Walking is a critical component of our country’s urban transportation system and a practical transportation choice with powerful benefits for both individuals and their communities.  The potential for increased walking is enormous: one quarter of all trips in the United States are less than one mile in length, but only a quarter of these are made by walking.  Providing more walking facilities helps enhance access to other modes of travel, improves air quality and other environmental benefits, and contributes to health and other quality of life factors.   The National League of Cities will be hosting a webinar with America Walks and Smart Growth America to look at how increasing walkability has had an impact in Columbia, MO and Arlington County, VA.  Current and former local officials will discuss the economic and social benefits their communities have seen and how they have gone about to get public support and the financing in place to build pedestrian facilities.  The speakers will address the role federal dollars have played in their pedestrian-related initiatives and the importance of them in leveraging funding from other sources to build walking projects that are meeting the needs of their communities and  advancing social, economic, and environmental goals.

Speakers

Chris Zimmerman, Vice President for Economic Development, Smart Growth America and former Board Member, Arlington County, Virginia

Council Member Ian Thomas, PhD, City of Columbia, Missouri and Board Member, America Walks

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

New Toolkit Available for Federal Advocacy on Transportation Funding Crisis

Transportation issues at the federal level are nearing a critical phase. The Federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of money some time later this summer. This, while the expiration of MAP-21′s deadline, the federal transportation funding legislation, is nearing at the end of the fiscal year – September 30th. This issue is expected to dominate discussion in DC for the next few months and it is important that local officials reach out to their members of Congress to tell them that the time to act is now! Locals need long term stability when it comes to federal transportation funding and policies. To assist with this effort, the National League of Cities has created a toolkit you can access by clicking here. Congress needs to hear about this important issue!

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.