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ATSSA leads effort in filing legal brief supporting reversal of FCC safety spectrum decision

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ATSSA filed a friend of the court brief in support of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN), which are appealing an order by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reallocate a portion of the 5.9 GHz spectrum band to unlicensed uses including WiFi.

The FCC voted unanimously on Nov. 18, 2020 to reallocate more than half of the safety band. The new rules adopted by the FCC make the lower 45 megahertz (MHz) of the spectrum available for unlicensed uses and require Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) licensees to stop using that portion of the spectrum within a year.

The FCC’s action came despite warnings from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), U.S. Department of the Treasury and multiple transportation-safety-focused organizations including ATSSA.

Senate passes bipartisan infrastructure package

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The Senate today passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The $1.2 trillion plan includes the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act (STRA) that passed through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee earlier this year.

“ATSSA applauds the passage of this historic investment in roads, bridges and safety,” ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner said. “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will allow ATSSA members to undertake even more lifesaving work on America’s roadways. We are encouraged by the work done in a bipartisan manner in the Senate and strongly urge the House to follow their lead in implementing a robust, long-term and safety-focused infrastructure plan.”

The House will need to also pass the infrastructure plan for it to go into effect. However, members on both sides of the aisle have expressed a weariness toward the Senate version. It is unclear what the plan forward is on the legislation.

Final action on a Senate infrastructure package could be a week away

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Senate action Wednesday night on a bipartisan infrastructure package starts the clock on the issue but a final vote on the Senate floor could be at least a week away.

The Senate voted 67-32 Wednesday night to proceed to debate on the bipartisan infrastructure package that has been agreed to by a group of 22 Republican and Democrat senators, known as the G-22. Seventeen Republican senators voted to advance the measure. The Biden administration also supported it.

If passed, the legislation would then head to the House, where members of both parties have expressed concerns with the package as constructed.

Senate sets timeframe for infrastructure package

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) indicated that the Senate should expect to vote on a bipartisan infrastructure package later this month.

The framework of the package was agreed to in late June and has the support of the “G-22,” a group of 11 Democrat and 11 Republican senators. The framework’s initial total cost is $1.2 trillion, with $109 billion going to roads and bridges and $11 billion marked for safety.

Senate Democrats intend on pairing the infrastructure package with a companion $3.5 trillion budget resolution made up of priorities kept out of the bipartisan bill, including action on climate change, increases to childcare and a potential increase on taxes for corporations.

Michigan legislative delegation tours roadway work zone with ATSSA members and staff

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A delegation from the Michigan legislature, in partnership with the Michigan ATSSA Chapter (MI-ATSSA) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), toured an active work zone this week in Flint, Mich.

The legislators experienced first-hand how intense a roadway construction rebuild site can be for workers and motorists. 

Reps. Tim Sneller and John Cherry, as well as Montel Menifee from the office of Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, took part in the tour, which focused on safety for both workers and motorists within work zones. 

House passes surface transportation reauthorization

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The House of Representatives passed the INVEST in America Act earlier today by a margin of 221-201. The legislation passed on a mostly party line vote, with two Republicans—Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Rep Chris Smith (R-NJ)—voting in support of the legislation.

The five-year, $715 billion package includes $343 billion for roads, bridges and safety, with $15.9 billion of that dedicated to the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP).

With this legislation passing the full House, attention now turns to the Senate where, earlier this year, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee passed its version of this bill, known as the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act (STRA) of 2021. 

House moves closer to passage of surface transportation reauthorization

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The House Rules Committee will hold its second meeting of the week today on the INVEST in America Act, the surface transportation reauthorization proposal that passed out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last month.

The meetings will determine which amendments that have been filed from members of the full House of Representativea are deemed germane, setting up a final vote on the House floor potentially as early as this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has targeted passage prior to the July 4th recess for months, and the actions by the Rules Committee should keep that timetable in play.

Out of the 261 amendments filed, ATSSA is very supportive of three.

White House unveils bipartisan infrastructure framework

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Earlier this afternoon, President Biden announced that an agreement on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure framework had been made between the White House and members of the Senate from both parties. This bipartisan plan lays out an additional $579 billion in new spending, with $109 billion allocated towards roads, bridges and major projects and another $11 billion marked for safety.

Congressional Road Safety Caucus puts spotlight on safety

Transportation and safety proposals this year offer optimism for roadway safety advocates

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One of the ways members of Congress shine a light on a specific issue is through the formation of congressional caucuses. Reps. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) have done exactly that in creating the bipartisan Congressional Road Safety Caucus this year.

One of the first steps came on April 14, when Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) and Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) introduced the High Risk Rural Roads Safety Grant Program Act in the House. The Act would create a new competitive grant program for local jurisdictions and tribal nations to focus federal funding on rural and tribal road safety projects.

Funded at $600 million annually, this proposal would give a needed boost to targeting safety challenges on these rural and tribal roadways.

Other roadway safety proposals are also being considered on Capitol Hill.

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee passes surface transportation authorization proposal

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Early this morning, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee passed a five-year, $548 billion surface transportation authorization proposal out of committee, mostly on a party-line vote.

Two Republican members of the committee, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico), crossed over and voted with the Democrats. The legislation, named the INVEST in America Act, passed out of the committee after a marathon session that began Wednesday morning and finished around 5 a.m. today. Both Democrats and Republicans offered hundreds of amendments during the process.

This proposal includes funding titles for highways – including roadway safety infrastructure, bridges, transit and passenger and freight rail. By and large, the legislation and the process were derided as partisan by Republican committee members.

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