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Ports-to-Plains Region

November 7, 2017

Volume Number 15
Issue Number 22

This week’s newsletter turns attention to efforts in Washington to advance transportation and the Ports-to-Plains Corridor.  First off, we are fortunate for the strong support we receive from our Ports-to-Plains Congressional Caucus.  The caucus is bi-partisan, and was established to ensure a voice for rural communities in America's Heartland and to educate other members of congress on the importance of our region in feeding, fueling, and clothing America and the world.  In this newsletter we feature news about the caucus and one of its co-chairs, Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX).  There has also been quite a bit of discussion about a major federal investment in infrastructure.  While investing in infrastructure is overwhelmingly popular, the biggest obstacle has been how to pay for it.  The Trump administration recently floated the idea of increasing the federal motor fuel tax for the first time since 1993.  I am glad that my pay has increased over the last 24 years, because my expenses certainly have gone up.  And highway construction inflation has increased at a higher rate than the consumer price index.  Hopefully this will lead to a long overdue discussion on how we want to pay to build and maintain our nation’s bridges and highways instead of simply kicking the can down the road.

 Michael Reeves, President

We are a voice for our small town, grassroots members who may otherwise not have access to the right audiences, as well as a conduit for industry to come together in support and promotion of transportation improvements.

We are committed to working as an Alliance to improve transportation infrastructure and business networks opportunities, by advocating for appropriate funding levels, so business and industry can thrive.

We are focused on the economic and business interests that are the lifeblood of the region.

Contents


White House eyes 7-cent gas tax hike for infrastructure plan

The White House may back the first hike in the federal gasoline tax in decades in order to pay for President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure package.

Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn told moderate House lawmakers at a private meeting on Wednesday that they'll get a chance to vote on a gas tax hike early next year as part of an infrastructure bill, according to two lawmakers who were present. The discussion over the fuel tax during the meeting was first reported by Politico Playbook.

"Cohn seemed receptive to it," one meeting participant told The Hill.

Separately, an industry source tells The Hill that the White House intends to back a 7-cent gas tax increase to pay for U.S. roads, bridges, highways and other public works, though it’s unclear if the proposal would be included in initial infrastructure legislation or if the administration will push to have it added at the committee level.

Trump signaled some openness to raising the federal gas tax earlier this year, telling Bloomberg News that it’s something he would “certainly consider.” But the idea, a politically fraught issue that lawmakers have avoided for years, quickly ran into fierce opposition from GOP lawmakers and influential conservatives.

However, as the White House scrambles to score a legislative victory on Capitol Hill, the administration may be eager to identify potential funding options for its long-stalled infrastructure plan.

Read on...


GOP chairman: No appetite for gas tax hike now in House

The head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said on Thursday that there is little appetite in the lower chamber right now for a hike in the federal gasoline tax.

The administration is considering a 7-cent gas tax increase to pay for President Trump’s long-stalled infrastructure plan, which would be the first federal hike in the fuel tax in more than two decades.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) reportedly said that though there is little enthusiasm at present, members could get on board with the idea if the White House gets publicly involved on the issue and actively advocates for an increase. He emphasized that the president needs to take the lead on the infrastructure package. 

“There’s no sense in me going out there and putting something out and all of a sudden the president beats it down,” Shuster told reporters, according to CQ Roll Call.

Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, told moderate House lawmakers at a private meeting on Wednesday that they'll get a chance to vote on a gas tax hike early next year as part of an infrastructure bill, according to two lawmakers who were present.

Separately, an industry source tells The Hill that the White House intends to back a 7-cent gas tax increase to pay for U.S. roads, bridges, highways and other public works, though it’s unclear if the proposal would be included in initial infrastructure legislation or if the administration will push to have it added at the committee level.

Read on...


Top GOP Senator won’t rule out gas tax hike for infrastructure upgrades 

The Senate’s No. 3 Republican left the door open on Tuesday to raising the federal gasoline tax to pay for infrastructure improvements — an idea currently being considered by the White House, but one that has repeatedly run into a buzz saw of opposition on Capitol Hill. 

“I’m not ruling out anything at this point,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters. “I think we need to keep our options open in terms of how we get that done.” 

“We have members who are open to all ideas about how to pay for [infrastructure],” he added. 

White House officials told a group of moderate House lawmakers last week that they are considering a gas tax hike to help offset President Trump’s infrastructure proposal. 

An industry source told The Hill that the administration is eyeing a 7-cent increase, though it’s unclear if the proposal would be included in the initial infrastructure legislation or if the administration will push to have it added at the committee level. 

It would be the first hike in the federal gasoline tax in over 20 years. The Highway Trust Fund, which provides money for road construction and other transportation projects across the country, is financed by a federal fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. 

“If anything is done on the Highway Trust Fund, it will happen in the context of an infrastructure discussion,” Thune said. “If that’s what we’re going to use to pay for infrastructure in this country, then we’ve got to figure out a way to fund the trust fund.”

Read on...


Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX-19), co-chairs Congressional Ports-to-Plains Caucus

 A bipartisan Congressional Ports-to-Plains Caucus has been formed, and inducted as a Congressional Member Organization for the 115th Congress. This Caucus will serve as an informal group of Members dedicated to issues related to rural transportation and rural economic development in America’s Heartland, with a focus on the corridor running from Texas to North Dakota and Montana, and educating other Members on the importance of this area is feeding, fueling, and clothing America’s cities and urban areas.

Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX-19), co-chair of the Congressional Ports-to-Plains Caucus says,

“Middle America provides the food, fuel, and fiber that strengthens and protects our nation, but that’s only true when we can get the product to market. The Ports-to-Plains corridor is strategically located to facilitate billions of dollars in trade, create jobs, and increase economic efficiency by connecting rural areas to urban America, regional trade centers, and international transportation facilities.

“I’m honored to share the significance of this corridor and its needs by co-chairing the newly created Congressional Ports-to-Plains Caucus, alongside my House Co-Chairs, Representatives Smith, Gonzalez and Cuellar, and our counterparts in the Senate, Senators Heitkamp and Fischer."

Congressman Jodey Arrington is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives serving the Nineteenth Congressional District of Texas. He serves as a member of the House Agriculture Committee, House Budget Committee, and Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. 


Extension of I-27/Ports to Plains Corridor

Texas has no major north-south interstate west of Interstate 35; and the Texas Freight Mobility Plan notes that further investment alone on I-35 will not fix the problem saying,

“The state must focus not only on improving existing facilities, but also on developing future freight corridors to move products to markets and exports".

Has your organization considered the resolution supporting the Extension of Interstate 27?

Have you individually added your name supporting the Resolution?

Please share with your Texas Friends!

Please click here to add your personal name to the Resolution in Support of Expansion on Interstate 27

Please click here to downland a draft organizational resolution for consideration by local governments and non-profit organizations.  (Word Document) 

Upcoming Events

2017-2018 

November 8, 2017 - Rotary Club Presentation, Tulia, Texas

November 14, 2017 - Rotary Club Presentation, Midland, Texas

November 29, 2017 - Lion's Club Presentation, Plainview, Texas

January 23, 2018 - Quarterly Ports-to-Plains Board Meeting, Amarillo, Texas

 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Staff

Michael Reeves
President
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-2338
F: 806-775-3981
michael.reeves@portstoplains.com

Duffy Hinkle
Vice President of Membership & Marketing
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3373
F: 806-775-3981
duffy.hinkle@portstoplains.com

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 9
Limon, CO 80828
P: 719-740-2240
F: 719-775-9073
joe.kiely@portstoplains.com

Jeri Strong
Executive Assistant
Ports-To-Plains Alliance
5401 N. MLK Blvd. Ste. 395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3369
jeri.strong@portstoplains.com

Cal Klewin
Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
PO Box 1306
22 E Broadway
Williston, ND 58802
P: 701-523-6171
cal@trexpressway.com

Deb Cottier
Board of Directors
Heartland Expressway Association
706 West Third St.
Chadron, NE 69337
P: 308-432-4023
dcottier@gpcom.net

Jay Slemp
Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor
212 2nd Ave. W
Box 820
Hanna AB T0J 1P0
P: 403-854-0424
jay.slemp@palliseralberta.com