Federal Tax Reform Update – US Senate Proposal

Staff from the National League of Cities shared the following information with MML and other state leagues over the weekend, following the Senate’s release of their proposed version of tax reform…

Late Thursday, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance Orrin Hatch (R-UT) released the Chairman’s Mark of his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  The Senate Committee on Finance is expected to markup this legislation on November 13, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. We urge you to contact your congressional delegation, especially the Senate Finance Committee (www.finance.senate.gov/about/membership).

After 4 days, the House Ways and Means Committee concluded committee markup on Thursday as well.  A floor vote on H.R. 1 is expected next week, most likely on Wednesday or Thursday.     

In the House, there are still nine Republicans who are opposed to the tax bill because of its treatment of SALT: New Jersey Reps. Leonard Lance, Frank A. LoBiondo and Christopher H. Smith; New York Reps. Peter T. King, Lee Zeldin, Elise Stefanik and Dan Donovan; and California Reps. Darrell Issa and Tom McClintock. Please thank those Members of the House who are standing strong with us in writing or via social media.

The House and Senate leadership have both stated that they expect to go to conference to reconcile differences in the bills, but they could bypass going to conference entirely.  Either way, they hope to send a final bill to the President for his signature in December. Below, find quick summary on bill differences.

 

  House Bill – Final As of Mark Up Senate Bill – No Markup
Tax Exempt Municipal Bonds Retained (not included in bill) Retained (not included in bill)
Private Activity Bonds Eliminated Retained
Non-refundable Bonds Eliminated Eliminated
State and local income and sales taxes Eliminated (except for those attributable to business income) Eliminated (except for those attributable to business income)
Property taxes Retained (up to $10,000) Eliminated
Mortgage interest Retained (but only on debt up to $500,000 for new loans; no interest on second home, no interest on new home equity loans) Retained (but no deduction on home equity loans)
Personal casualty losses Eliminated (except for federal declared disaster areas) Eliminated (except for federal declared disaster areas)
Nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements Eliminated Eliminated
Historic Tax Credits Eliminated Retained (but reduces their value)
New Mark Tax Credits Eliminated Retained (until current authorization expires in 2 years)
Work Opportunity Tax Credits Eliminated Eliminated
Low Income Housing Tax Credits Eliminated Retained

Today, the Chairs of House Municipal Finance Caucus released an oped to protect bonds and tax credits. www.washingtonexaminer.com/…

Also, NLC was in US News and World Report on tax reform www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2017-11-10/…

We will continue to challenge any plan that threatens the tax exemptions for bonds used to finance critical infrastructure, eliminates the state and local tax deduction that protects local decision making and erases tax credits that strengthen communities.

 

 

Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and chackbarth@mml.org.

MDOT Seeking Input From Local Agencies on Construction Services by October 20

The League is working with MDOT to get your feedback!  The department would like to engage in a more consistent and aligned approach to satisfying their duty of ensuring local agency program compliance with state and federal requirements.  In order to do so, They need to identify areas of construction oversight inconsistencies and gauge the effectiveness of current activities, guidance, and processes.  Your feedback will help them identify things that work well, and more importantly, areas they need to improve.  Please take a few minutes to complete the survey at https://www.research.net/r/X2766XJ

The survey will be open until October 20, 2017.  Anyone who works on Local Agency Program projects, in particular the construction side of things, is welcome to participate.  Responses are not limited to one per agency. Please also feel free to share this survey with your consultants as well.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

$500 million federal TIGER program accepting grant applications for road projects; due October 16

The federal government has announced it is now accepting applications for the FY 2017 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, with $500 million in available funds for infrastructure projects including roads.

The application deadline for the 2017 TIGER solicitation is October 16.

The Department of Transportation will hold public two webinars:

  • September 13 and 19, 2 – 4 p.m., on “How to Compete for TIGER Grants;” and
  • September 18, 2 – 4 p.m., on “Preparing a Benefit Cost Analysis.”

To register for the free webinars, please visit the TIGER Webinar Series webpage.

Additional information about the TIGER program is available at the TIGER website. Questions may be directed to Ryan Brumfield, 202.366.2639, ryan.brumfield@dot.gov, in the TIGER program office or to FHWA TIGER program staff Sam Snead, 202.366.0857, sam.snead@dot.gov.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

MDOT kicking off 2018 Local Grade Crossing Surface Program; applications due October 27

MDOT provides funding assistance for highway-railroad grade crossing surface improvements on local roads. This annual program offers 60% funding for eligible projects, with railroads responsible for the remaining 40% of costs. Projects are selected in compliance with criteria established by state law.

After a successful launch in 2017, 2018 Local Grade Crossing Surface Program announcement letters are being mailed to all railroads and road agencies with active highway-railroad grade crossings within Michigan.

The 2018 Call for Projects opened in early September, with program letters containing additional details mailed to road authorities and railroads. Application materials for road agencies are now available, with a deadline for submittals of October 27, 2017. Project selections are expected to be confirmed by late November, with authorizations scheduled to be issued in time for the 2018 construction season. The 2017 Program had over 130 applications resulting in more than 70 approved projects to improve local crossing surfaces.

2018 Application
Sample Surface Program Railroad Authority Letter
Sample Surface Program Road Authority Letter

Questions about the program should be directed to Kristian Foondle, MDOT Local Grade Crossing Program Manager, at foondlek@michigan.gov. Click here for a list of railroad contacts

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

 

Draft Michigan Freight Plan Comment Period/Webinar Opportunity on September 12th

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is pleased to release for public review and comment the draft Michigan Freight Plan, a supplement to the 2040 MI Transportation Plan. MDOT is seeking comments on the plan through Sep. 29 and has scheduled a Sep. 12 Webinar to discuss it in detail. The plan is available for viewing online at www.michigan.gov/freightplan or at MDOT’s region offices and Transportation Service Centers. Comments can be made electronically at the above link, or by writing Geralyn Ayers, Public Involvement and Hearings Officer, Bureau of Highway Development, Michigan Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 30050, Lansing, MI 48909.

The Michigan Freight Plan provides a comprehensive overview of the state’s freight transportation system, including existing assets, system performance and the investments required to ensure long-term success. Freight is defined as any good, product or raw material carried by commercial transportation, including air, highway, rail, water and pipeline.

A multi-modal and intermodal resource, the plan provides an overall framework for freight system improvements and priorities. It is an element of the 2040 MI Transportation Plan and integrates its overall vision, goals, objectives, strategies and decision-making principles.

The public Webinar is scheduled for 9 to 10 a.m., Sep. 12. To participate, please register at the Freight Plan website at www.michigan.gov/freightplan or by calling (517) 373-2227. Details, including Web address and audio connection information will be sent with E-mail confirmation. Copies of the plan also may be obtained by calling Geralyn Ayers at (517) 373-2227.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

2017 Edition of Local Agency Programs Guidelines for Geometrics On Local Agency Projects

The MDOT Local Agency Program (LAP) has posted the 2017 Edition of the Guidelines for Geometrics on Local Agency Projects, as approved by FHWA and replacing the 2014 Edition. A summary of major changes is posted on page A-3 of the 2017 Edition for a quick reference. Designers are encouraged to become familiar with the new Guidelines as they will apply to all Local Agency Projects submitted for funding, beginning with Fiscal Year 2018 funds

The MDOT 2017 LAP Guidelines for Geometrics is posted on the LAP website and can be found by clicking here.

Please feel free to contact Mark Harbison, PE, Urban Program Manager, at 517-335-2744 or by email at harbisonm@michigan.gov with additional questions.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

 

Save the Date: Transportation Asset Management Council’s Fall Conference

Michigan’s Transportation Asset Management Council will be having their annual fall conference in Marquette on October 5th.This conference presents critical information for League members and we encourage all of those that are able to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.

A full agenda and registration information will be be coming soon. For additional information about hotel reservations, contacts and presentations, please click here for the Save the Date flyer.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

President Trump’s Plan to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure

Last week President Trump hosted a “White House Infrastructure Summit” It was a gathering of the Administration and local leaders from across the country. At this summit the President laid out his vision for future investment in infrastructure. You can view the President’s official plan for infrastructure by clicking here.

The White House rolled out ideas on how to fix our nation’s ailing roads, bridges, schools and water systems in their version of “Infrastructure Week.” Building off the $200 billion in federal investment included in President Donald Trump’s FY2018 budget, ideas such as privatizing air traffic control, streamlining the permitting process, and improving inland waterways were all  highlighted by the president.

While proponents argue the infrastructure proposal would deliver greater control to states and local governments, the proposal appears to back down on a direct investment in infrastructure that cities and the nation desperately need. The result is a mixed bag for cities — some crucial programs shored up, major changes to regulations, and a great deal of funding uncertainty for the future.

The League will continue to stress the following points in our advocacy efforts for increases investment in infrastructure at the federal level.

  • Protect the tax exemption for municipal bonds
  • The need for direct funding to cities and villages
  • Ensure that federally funded programs that communities use to leverage additional investments continue
  • Any infrastructure package needs to include roads, bridges, transit, water, electric and broadband

Please consider reaching out and expressing the importance of investing in infrastructure and the need for that investment at the local level.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

2019 Federal Local Safety Program Solicits Applications

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is pleased to announce the solicitation of new applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 general Local (HSIP) Safety Program. The FY 2019 federal budget for this program is estimated at $9,000,000. This amount may be subject to revisions. Unselected FY 2019 High Risk Rural Road (HRRR) projects will automatically be included in this Call.

Local Agencies may submit more than one project application for consideration. Federal safety funds shall not exceed $600,000 per project or a maximum amount of $2,000,000 per Local Agency, HSIP, and HRRR combined, for the fiscal year. Selected projects are to be obligated in FY 2019.

Application are to be electronically submitted or postmarked by Monday, August 7, 2017. Please click here for additional information.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pamela Blazo, Local Agency Programs Safety Engineer, at 517-335-2224 or at blazop@michigan.gov.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

2019 Federal High Risk Rural Road Program Call for Application

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is pleased to announce the solicitation of applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 High Risk Rural Road (HRRR) program. Federal funds for the HRRR program are apportioned from the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and derived from the HRRR Special Rule under 23 USC 148(g)(l), The FY 2019 federal appropriation for this program is estimated to be $6,000,000. This amount may be subject to revisions.

Local agencies are allowed to submit more than one project for consideration. Federal safety funds shall not exceed $600,000 per project or a maximum amount of $2,000,000 per Local Agency for the fiscal year, including any select FY 2019 HSIP projects. Any non-selected projects submitted under this HRRR call for projects will automatically rolled over to the general FY 2019 HSIP safety call for projects. Selected HRRR projects are to be obligated in FY 2019; the Local Agency will not be allowed to delay a selected HRRR to a different year.

Applications are to be electronically submitted or postmarked by Monday, August 7, 2017. Please click here for additional information.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pamela Blazo, Local Agency Programs Safety Engineer, at 517-335-2224 or at blazop@michigan.gov.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.