President Signs Long-Term Transportation Conference Report -- IME Priorities Included
In a surprising act of speed unfamiliar in the slow moving legislative arena, on December 3rd, first the House and then the Senate approved the massive five-year surface transportation conference report with overwhelming support. With a shutdown of the highway program looming due to the expiration of the latest extension, Congress and the Administration exchanged the necessary paperwork in order for President Obama to be able to sign the bill into law on Friday, December 7, 2015. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is now Public Law 114-94. The focus of Congress and the IME will now turn to implementing the law.
IME has expended much energy on this bill and is proud to note the following victories:
- Stops discriminatory user fees for filing special permit or approval applications
- Improves transparency and timely processing of special permits and approvals
- Reforms the dysfunctional Hazardous Materials Safety Permit program by ensuring due process and ending automatic denials.
- Civil penalties are not increased.
- HM registration fees are not used to pay for a new grant program.
- DOT given authority to waive HMR requirements during national emergencies.
- Compliance, Safety & Accountability (CSA) Reform which bars the use of the data to determine motor carrier fitness until studies to address deficiencies or complete and DOT has implemented actions to correct deficiencies.
- Study on the impacts of raising minimum insurance limits before rulemaking to raise limits can proceed.
- New port performance program to assess the productivity of ports to handle freight so that shippers will have more performance certainty about ports they use.
- The Export-Import Bank is reincorporated for four years.
Please contact IME for more information on these points or other provisions of the bill.