Your Connection

to the

Ports-to-Plains Region

August 1, 2017

Volume Number 15
Issue Number 15

As we turn the calendar to a new month today, I am reminded that the end of summer is approaching quickly, and the Ports to Plains Annual Conference is just around the corner.  We are working hard over the next six weeks to provide you with another fantastic event as we celebrate our 20th Annual Conference.  We will have a lineup of great speakers that will inform you about the key issues impacting our region.  As this is our 20th Annual Conference, we will celebrate this milestone by reflecting on our beginning with key PTP founders Randy Neugebauer, Robert Duncan and Tommy Gonzalez.  And of course one of the most valuable components of the conference is the opportunity to network with fellow community leaders from throughout the Ports to Plains region.  Full details, including registration, sponsorship and hotel accommodations are included below.  Make plans now to attend and be a part of this great celebration.

 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.


 Extension of I-27/Ports to Plains Corridor

The proposed extension of Interstate 27 will also serve the agriculture industry including many of Texas top counties for the production of cotton, cattle, sheep and goats and other commodities.

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) 


Mark your Calendars to join us for the
20th Anniversary Reunion Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference
September 12-14, 2017 -- Lubbock, TX!

Additional Speaker Confirmations

Drew Darby, TX State Representative, District 72
Dustin Burrows, TX State Representative, District 83
Caroline Mays, Director, Freight & International Trade Section, TxDOT
Dan Pope, Mayor, City of Lubbock
Brenda Gunter, Mayor, City of San Angelo
Larry Mclellan, Mayor, City of Big Spring

 View Working Agenda

Register HERE 

Americans Say They Back Higher Gas Tax to Fix Crumbling Roads Congress hasn’t raised the federal gas tax since 1993 when Bill Clinton was president, but a narrow majority of Americans would support an increase to help fix crumbling roads and bridges in their own states.

Fifty-five percent of Americans in a Bloomberg National Poll say they would back an increase. The concept has bipartisan support, with majorities of Republicans (51 percent) and Democrats (67 percent) backing the idea.

Americans are tired of the condition of their roads and interstate highways and the 56,000 structurally deficient bridges nationwide, said Ray LaHood, a Republican and former U.S. transportation secretary under President Barack Obama who supports raising the gas tax.

“People are fed up,” LaHood said. “They’re ready for politicians to take action.”

President Donald Trump has promised a plan to invest $1 trillion over 10 years upgrading deteriorating roads, bridges, airports and other assets. The White House said that while no decision has been made about raising the federal gas tax to help pay for the improvements, all options are on the table.

Read on...  

Opportunities for Agriculture Presented by NAFTA Renegotiations Highlighted at House Ag Hearing

Today, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing to highlight opportunities for agriculture in the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) and members of the committee heard from various stakeholder groups on opportunities to achieve the best deal possible for American agriculture. Following the hearing, Chairman Conaway made the below remarks:

“Trade is vital to U.S. agriculture and nowhere is it more important than with our neighbors to the north and south. While I recognize there is a level of angst about renegotiating an agreement that has provided so many hard-fought gains, our nation stands to benefit from renegotiating a deal that provides additional market access and tightens trade enforcement. As the administration prepares to renegotiate NAFTA, I will continue working diligently with Amb. Lighthizer and Sec. Perdue to ensure we achieve the best deal possible for American agriculture.”

Import tax officially abandoned in Big 6 tax reform talks

White House and congressional leaders officially acknowledged Thursday that a controversial tax on imports would be dropped from tax reform, but otherwise provided no new details on a broader plan they expect to start moving through Congress in the fall.

The import tax, called border adjustability, was pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan as a way to fund tax cuts, but it prompted a fierce backlash from retailers, other import-dependent industries and conservative activists. With that tax off the table, Congress, the White House and advocacy groups hope to present a more united front on tax reform, though other disagreements will surely flare as lawmakers work on a replacement.

In a statement that was otherwise largely symbolic, the "Big Six" tax reform negotiators vowed to reduce tax rates, simplify the tax code and improve U.S. economic growth by changing tax laws.

The declaration — from Ryan, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn — on border adjustability confirmed what was widely anticipated for months.

Read on...


Lawmakers Keep Promise to Fund Texas Highways

In the final week of the 2017 regular session of the Texas Legislature lawmakers approved a budget that keeps the highway funding promises made to voters in recent years.

The result is that funds dedicated by voters in the passage of Proposition 1 in 2014 and Proposition 7 in 2015 will be available to pay for new highway construction and to pay down highway construction debt previously authorized by voters. Additionally, lawmakers continued the decision made in 2015 to end diversions from the State Highway Fund which previously went to pay for operations of the Department of Public Safety.

During the next two years (FY 2018 and FY 2019) TxDOT is projecting that it will be able to invest approximately $2.5 billion a year in highway projects aimed at system upgrades, congestion relief, rural connectivity and safety.

Based on current estimates, Proposition 1 will generate $739 million in FY 2018 and $563 million in FY 2019 for the State Highway Fund. From Proposition 7 lawmakers allocated $2.2 billion in FY 2018 and $2.5 billion in FY 2019 with $306 million a year going to pay off voter-approved general obligation debt issued in the past to build highway projects (Prop 12).

Read on...

More States Raising Gasoline & Diesel Taxes

Texas is one of only seven states that have not increased gasoline and diesel tax levels in the past 25 years. The state’s 20 cent tax per gallon on gasoline and diesel has remained the same since 1991.

With highway construction cost rising every year and greater vehicle fuel efficiency depressing fuel tax revenues, states from coast to coast have reluctantly taken steps to deal with transportation funding shortfalls. In the past year Indiana, Montana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and California have all approved rate increases.

For more than a decade Rep. Joe Pickett, past chairman and dean of the Texas House Transportation Committee, has been making the point that Texas needs to deal with the long decline in the buying power of the fuels tax.

Chairman Pickett and others including members of the Texas Transportation Commission have continued to make the point that even with dedicated funding from Proposition 1 and Proposition 7 more money is needed to keep up with growth and to address the state's biggest highway and bridge projects.

Pickett has encouraged the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to create a series of Texas “Gas Tax Facts” sheets which Pickett promotes in an effort to help more people understand this important source of funding for highway maintenance and improvement. [Download the 2016 Gas Tax Facts]

Read on...

COGA 29th Annual Energy Summit 

The Energy Summit proudly enters its 29th year with a focus on “Cleaner, Better, Further, Safer”. Over three days, our speakers will explore the industry’s commitment to a cleaner energy future, strategies employed to position companies for better success, technological advances that take us further to energy security, and continuing implementation of practices that keep our industry safer than ever before. Register HERE

Heartland Expressway Annual Meeting 2017

You’re invited to attend the Heartland Expressway Association’s Annual Meeting in Alliance, NE Friday, August 18, 2017 at Noon. We’re excited to have Nebraska US Senator Deb Fischer on hand to deliver the keynote address. Senator Fischer serves as the chairman of Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and has been a champion of innovative, long-term solutions for highway infrastructure funding.

Please RSVP by August 11th to Daniel Bennett at or 308-436-6584 and feel free to forward the invitation to others. Thank you for your time and we hope to see you in Alliance on August 18th!

Upcoming Events


August 18 - Heartland Expressway Annual Meeting, Alliance, NE

August 22-24 - COGA 29th Annual Energy Summit

September 12 - Quarterly Ports-to-Plains Board Meeting, Lubbock, TX

September 12-14 - 20th Annual Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference, Lubbock, TX

 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Staff

Michael Reeves
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-2338
F: 806-775-3981

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

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 9
Limon, CO 80828
P: 719-740-2240
F: 719-775-9073

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

Richard "Buzz" David
Economic and Business Development
5629 NE Foster Rd.
Bainbridge Island, WA  09110
P: 806-678-3160

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

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

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