Legislative information from Jessica Monahan, Associate Legislative Director – Transportation with the National Association of Counties.
For additional information please contact Jessica at 202.942.4217.

Update on FAST Act Implementation

Since the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act passed in December, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken steps to implement the new “law of the land.” Last month, DOT issued the formal apportionment notice and other documents that let states begin using funds allocated to their highway programs under the FAST Act. Additionally, the Department has started to post guidance, fact sheets and other information on its website.

Also of note, the Secretary has announced that the Department will publish a Notice of Funding Opportunity this month requesting applications of the new Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program. The NSFHP program was established under the FAST Act and is authorized a total of $4.5 billion for FYs 2016-2020, including $800 million for FY 2016. Specifically, DOT will be seeking transformative, nationally and regionally specific highway, rail, port and intermodal freight projects that have an estimated total project cost in excess of $100 million. Ten percent of authorized funding for this program will be reserved for small projects. Here you will find DOT’s NSFHP fact sheet.

Additional FAST Act resources can be found below:

Update on FAA Reauthorization

As mentioned in last week’s update, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) released his plan for FAA reauthorization on Feb. 3. The bill, the Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, has received quite a lot of attention on Capitol Hill, particularly due to its proposed privatization of the air traffic control (ATC) system. While the committee has not previously explored a position on privatizing ATC, I wanted to provide you with additional information on that and other topics included in the legislation that extend beyond our current platform but are relevant to the issues we’ll be exploring at the Legislative Conference later this month.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will be marking up the bill on Thursday. I will update the committee on the mark up process later this week.

NACo resources on FAA reauthorization:

Articles and information about the proposed “privatization” of the air traffic control system:

Articles and information about Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones):

Additional Information and Resources

Unused earmark money rescinded: Due to a provision included in the FY 2016 omnibus appropriations bill, $2 billion in unspent Federal Highway Administration earmarks will be sent back to the states to spend on roads and bridges. Earmarks subject to the provision must be more than 10 years old and less than 10 percent of the earmarked money can have been spent. More info: http://www.citylab.com/commute/2016/01/us-state-dot-highway-funding-earmark-fhwa-congress/431568/

FAA provides information for states and local governments considering UAS laws or regulations: The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new fact sheet on state and local regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) provides information for states and municipalities considering laws or regulations addressing UAS use. The document outlines FAA’s safety reasons for federal oversight of aviation and airspace, and explains federal responsibility in this area. The fact sheet provides examples of state and local laws affecting UAS for which consultation with the FAA is recommended, such as restrictions on flight altitude or flight paths, regulation of the navigable airspace, and mandating UAS-specific equipment or training. The fact sheet also gives examples of UAS laws likely to fall within state and local government authority, such as requirements for police to obtain a warrant prior to using UAS for surveillance; prohibitions on the use of UAS for voyeurism; exclusions on using UAS for hunting or fishing, or harassing individuals engaged in those activities; and prohibitions on attaching firearms or other weapons to a UAS. You can at:http://www.faa.gov/uas/regulations_policies/

President rolls out budget, plan likely to include new infrastructure investment proposal: Today, the President releases his budget proposal for FY 2017. Last week, the President and DOT Secretary Foxx previewed an infrastructure investment plan aimed at reducing carbon emissions that would be paired for using a $10 per barrel oil tax, and revenue source previously untapped by the Administration. This proposal is unlikely to advance far beyond the pages of the budget itself, especially considering Congress’ recent passage of a five year surface transportation bill. More information on the investment proposal: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/obama-to-propose-10-a-barrel-oil-tax-to-fund-rail-and-highway-projects/2016/02/04/49b3ec5c-cb7f-11e5-88ff-e2d1b4289c2f_story.html