The website watchdog GovTrack Insider estimates that nearly 7,000 bills are introduced into Congress each year. Ideas for these legislative actions can come from Congressional members, lobbyists, state legislatures, constituents, legislative counsel, or executive agencies; each bill ranges in scope, focus and applicability. Many are debated, several considered and only a small percentage are passed while others are left by the wayside never to come to fruition. Among these thousands of bills, many will have a direct impact on one or more segments of the composites industry. Here, we have compiled a sampling of bills that when passed or renewed will impact your business:
Transportation Reauthorization Bill
One of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s highest priorities in the current 112th Congress is to enact a fiscally responsible long-term surface transportation law that authorizes funding and sets policy for the federal highway, transit, and highway safety programs. This new bill would also include policy reforms for rail and maritime transportation. If passed, the bill would provide $230 billion over six years from the Highway Trust Fund.
Because Congress will not support a gas tax increase but will run out of funds if it simply extends the expired law, the Committee’s new proposal does not raise taxes. Instead, this proposal reforms surface transportation programs by consolidating or eliminating approximately 70 programs that are duplicative or do not serve a federal purpose. States will be permitted the flexibility to identify and address their most critical infrastructure needs. A multi-year bill that stabilizes the Highway Trust Fund is seen as the responsible approach to investing in the nation’s transportation infrastructure and providing the essential stability for states to plan major projects.
The impact this bill will have on the composite industry depends on whether or not Congress will include Senator David Vitter’s (R-LA) proposed amendment to incorporate life-cycle cost analysis. “The transportation bill amendment is one of the reasons we went to the Hill for the October Fly-In,” says American Composites Manufacturers Association’s (ACMA) Composite Growth Initiative Director John Busel. “We wanted to support Senator Vitter’s proposed amendment and create an equal playing field for composite materials.” Life-cycle cost analysis gives composite materials an advantage by lowering the cost of the installation over its lifetime compared to other materials that are cheaper initial investments but deteriorate overtime. There are still a number of unknown factors that are currently delaying the bill, such as determining the duration of the bill and how it will be funded. The future of the bill relies on Congressional action to create a sustainable funding structure for surface transportation law. For more information, visit http://republicans.transportation.house.gov.