Federal Highway Bill headed to the President's Desk
The U.S. Senate approved the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act by an 83-16 vote within a few hours of the U.S. House voting 359-65 in favor of the highway bill compromise - one day before the current funding extension was set to expire.
It now heads to the President’s desk for signing. Indications are that he will sign it; giving us the first highway bill spanning longer than two years since 2005.
The 5-year bill is a $305 billion dollar fully funded re-authorization of federal highway and transit programs.
Push for Helmet Laws
Right now, the push for motorcycle helmet laws is stronger than ever. Its bigger than a handful of the usual government agencies pushing for mandatory helmet laws, It is that of course too, but there is another factor at work as well. And its a very natural thing to happen, the desire to protect children. Many skate parks, bmx parks, horse rides, go carting, etc all now require helmets for youngsters, and we are ok with that. So long as that the continues the likely hood of keeping states helmet law free gets slimmer.
House Subcommittee Improves Motorcycle Safety with Amendments to Highway Bill
United States House of Representatives Subcommittee Improves Motorcycle Safety with Amendments to Highway Bill, Reports the Motorcycle Riders Foundation.
The Science Committee, Subcommittee on Research and Technology, approved two amendments that both greatly benefit motorcyclists. The first amendment halts the federal funding of motorcycle-only roadside checkpoints and then assigns a study to the National Academy of Sciences to determine the best methods of preventing motorcycle crashes.
The amendment sponsor, Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL) had this to say: “If the federal government is providing grants to improve motorcycle safety, these grants should be focused on ways that actually improve the safety of motorcycle riders.”
Highway Bill Advances in Senate
Wednesday, June 24th the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) passes their version of a long-term highway bill reports the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF). The six-year bill easily passed with bipartisan support. The “Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy” Act or DRIVE Act would increase funding levels from a 2012 transportation law at an average of 3% annually to come up with $260 billion for highway infrastructure programs. The measure was voted out of the committee with a vote of 20-0.
The issue of allowing for more states to the pilot program of new tolling of existing interstate highway was removed from the final version of the bill. The pilot program to test tolling existing interstate roads still exists, keeping the number of states that may participate at three. However, EPW did include a “use it or lose it” clause that would force a state participating in the program to abandon the pilot after a number of years if they are unable to get the program started. This is significant because this pilot program has been in existence for 17 years and none of the states have ever been able to put a tolling pilot program in place due to massive public outcry. In short, it allows the feds to pick an area of the country that may be more friendly to (or just more used to) increased tolling.