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This Week in Washington - November 9


ASCE President Greg DiLoreto Congratulates President on Reelection
Legislative Fly-In 2013: Save the Date
Infrastructure Committees to Change In the 113th Congress
State Ballot Initiatives
State Legislative & Electoral Updates

 

ASCE President Greg Diloreto Congratulates President On Reelection

Following the results of Tuesday’s Presidential Election results, ASCE President Greg DiLoreto, P.E., P.L.S, D.WRE, issued a statement offering congratulations to President Barack Obama. The president was elected to a second term with 303 electoral votes to Governor Romney’s 203, along with a persistently high unemployment and sluggish economy figuring prominently throughout the campaign.

In the statement released on Wednesday, President DiLoreto made note of America’s infrastructure challenges and the economy-boosting potential of tackling these problems.

“With the economy slowly recovering, infrastructure investment will help spark growth and continue our path towards prosperity. In 2009, ASCE gave America’s infrastructure a “D-“ grade and called for $2.2 trillion in investment over the coming five years. Obviously, this investment has not been made, and consequently, we have jeopardized our economy, our quality of life, and our very safety. We are pleased, however, that Congress this year passed and the President signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) legislation that reauthorized the nation’s surface transportation funding.”

ASCE members are invited to join next week’s Key Contact briefing call, “2012 Elections: What Next for Civil Engineering?” the next installment of the Key Contact Briefing Conference Call series. We will explore the outcomes of the elections and what they will mean for civil engineers. We will cover the presidential and congressional elections, as well as highlights from states and localities (ballot referenda). In addition, we will touch on anticipated priorities for January 2013, and how ASCE Government Relations will be working to promote civil engineering priorities.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
11am EST

To register for the 2012 Elections briefing call, sign up here.

The call is an exclusive benefit of the ASCE Key Contact Program. Non-Key Contacts are invited to join the program – simply register for the call and you will be added!

You can read ASCE President Greg DiLoreto’s statement here.

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Legislative Fly-In 2013: Save The Date

It’s that time of year again! Mark your calendars for March 19-21, ASCE’s 2013 Legislative Fly-In in Washington, DC. Details, including schedule and application information, are now available on ASCE’s website and the application deadline is December 7th.

The Legislative Fly-In provides ASCE members with the opportunity to learn about public policy issues affecting the civil engineering profession, and to communicate the civil engineer’s perspective on those issues with elected officials on Capitol Hill. Fly-In attendees will be the first to introduce the new and highly anticipated 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure to their elected officials.

View pictures and information from the 2012 Legislative Fly-In.

Help us reach our 2013 goal of having all 50 states represented!

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Infrastructure Committees To Change In The 113th Congress

The 2012 election season has come to an end, meaning there will be some changes to the makeup of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the fast approaching 113th Congress.

Looking first at the House, Chairman John Mica (R-FL) is term limited and therefore is unable to once again hold the gavel for the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. While he may still seek a waiver from House leadership in order to lead the committee again, it looks like that Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) will most likely be the next Chairman. Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV) won his reelection and is expected to stay on in his role. While the primary season saw nine T&I Members defeated or incumbents retiring, just three Members lost on Tuesday. Those included Reps. Leonard Boswell (D-IA), Laura Richardson (D-CA), and Chip Cravaack (R-MN). Louisiana Republican Congressmen Jeff Landry and Charles Boustany are headed to a runoff on Dec. 8 after neither won 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday.

Democrats have increased their majority in the Senate, meaning Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will remain as the Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) is term-limited on EPW, so Senator David Vitter (R-LA) will climb to the Ranking Member role beside Boxer.

ASCE will continue to update all Key Contacts as official committee assignments for the 113th Congress are released. ASCE looks forward to working with all Members of Congress to improve the nation’s infrastructure during the 113th Congress.

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State Ballot Initiatives

This past Tuesday, voters across the country went to the polls and let their voices be heard. Voters in 39 states were asked to decide 188 ballot propositions – the most since 2006.

ASCE members in 5 states -Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Maine and Oklahoma - were sent Key Alerts in regards to state-wide ballot initiatives dealing with infrastructure issues in those states.

If you live in one of those states did you receive the Alert? Did you pass it along to your peers? Word-of-mouth promotion of an issue is often the most persuasive!

Alaska
Type: Bonding for Transportation Projects

Voters were asked to give permission to the State to borrow $195.4 million to fund 18 port and port-related transportation projects around the state, and also $254.5 million to finance highway and road projects in different regions.
Result: Passed 57%-43%

Arkansas
Type: Sales Tax for Transportation Projects

Voters were asked to implement a half-percent sales tax in the state. This revenue generated from this ballot initiative, also known as Issue 1, would be used to leverage bonds to pay for creating a statewide four-lane grid and adding capacity to the existing four-lane highways statewide.
Result: Passed 58%-42%

For the remainder of states that voted on ballot initiatives, visit our blog.

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State Legislative & Electoral Updates

State Legislative Elections: The President had Coattails, However Short, in 2012 State Legislative Elections
In 20 of the past 28 presidential-cycle elections, the party winning the White House has gained seats in state legislatures. Thanks in large part to a Democratic gain of more than 100 seats in the New Hampshire House, it will be 21 of 29 winning years for the presidential party. In the first state legislative election since redistricting, voters cast ballots in 44 states for men and women running for 6,034 state legislative seats. Democrats appear to have regained control of seven chambers that they had lost in 2010, but Republicans claimed four chambers previously controlled by the Democrats.
Read more: The Thick at State Legislatures 11/7/12

Gubernatorial Elections: Republicans Win Big in North Carolina But Struggle Elsewhere
Despite heavy spending by outside groups in nearly a dozen races for governor, the partisan mix of Democrats and Republicans leading states appeared to change only slightly as a result of Tuesday’s elections.The biggest shift came as Republicans won the North Carolina governorship, ending a two-decade string of Democratic control of the office. GOP candidate Pat McCrory, a former mayor of Charlotte, easily dispatched Walter Dalton, the Democratic lieutenant governor.But as with the presidential race, North Carolina remained a rare bright spot for Republicans in gubernatorial contests. Democrats, who were defending eight of the 11 governorships in play, either held on to their offices or were leading in preliminary election results as of early Wednesday morning.
Democrats kept seats in Delaware, Missouri, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Vermont. Their candidates led by very slim margins in the two most competitive races of the night, in Montana and Washington state. Republicans, meanwhile, had no trouble holding on to governorships in Indiana, North Dakota and Utah.
Read more: Stateline 7/7/12


Alaska
Alaska voters approve $453M bond package
Alaska voters have approved nearly a half-billion dollars in bonds for transportation projects statewide. With nearly all precincts reporting, 57 percent of voters voted in favor of the $453 million transportation bond package with 43 percent voting against it before outstanding ballots were counted. The troubled Port of Anchorage expansion project is slated to receive $50 million from the bond package. The project has been beleaguered by cost overruns and construction problems. In fact, a report is expected to be released Friday whether the expansion project can be built as designed.
Read More:Fairbanks Daily News 11/7
*Editor’s Note* ASCE members in Alaska were sent a Key Alert urging their support of this measure.


Arizona
Arizona DOT Releases Study on Correlation between Land Use and Congestion
The relationship between traffic congestion and land use is an important one to explore when developing and implementing stronger communities, Arizona Department of Transportation concluded in a report released last week. ADOT's report sought answers on how the relationship between land uses and traffic congestion might help lead the agency to better decisions in the areas of planning, safety, environment, and cost effectiveness. The report, "Land Use and Traffic Congestion," was prepared by J. Richard Kuzmyak, a transportation consultant, for ADOT, which worked in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to complete the report.
Read More: AASHTO Journal 11/2


Arkansas
Arkansas voters approve tax increase for highways
Arkansas voters on Tuesday approved a half-cent sales tax increase that will fund $1.8 billion in highway repairs throughout the state. The proposal, referred by the Legislature in its 2011 session, increases the state's sales tax from 6 percent to 6.5 percent. But voters rejected a separate proposal referred by lawmakers that would allow cities to create development districts backed by expected sales tax revenue.
Read More: San Francisco Gate 11/7
*Editor’s Note* ASCE members in Arkansas were sent a Key Alert urging their support of this measure.


California
Measure J, L.A. County transportation tax extension, fails
Measure J, the proposed 30-year extension of a half-cent transportation sales tax in Los Angeles County, failed to receive the two-thirds majority needed to pass during Tuesday's election, falling short by about 2 percentage points. With 100% of precincts reporting, support for Measure J reached 64.72% while those opposed tallied 35.28%, according to the county's registrar-recorder. Four years ago, county voters narrowly approved Measure R by a two-thirds majority, the original half-cent sales tax for transportation efforts that is projected to generate between $36 and $40 billion over 30 years. Measure J would have extended that tax another 30 years, until 2069, and advocates said it would have allowed transportation officials to accelerate several transit projects by borrowing against future tax revenues.
Read More: LA Times 11/7


Colorado
PPRTA tax extension passed
A tax extension used to improve area roadways and bridges was approved Tuesday night. Early polling results hinted at a huge victory for the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. About 73-percent of early returns favored extending 55-percent of the one penny per dollar sales tax to help fund transportation projects through PPRTA. Money was earmarked for this purpose back in 2004 and was set to expire in 2014. The 10-year tax will now be renewed in 2015 and last through 2024.
Read More: KOAA 11/7
*Editor’s Note* ASCE members in El Paso County, Colorado were sent a Key Alert urging their support of this measure.


Maine
Maine voters approve 3 bond issues in $76M package
Maine voters have approved three bond issues. The largest of the bond issues on Tuesday's statewide ballot was $51.5 million for transportation projects. It got the strongest support, 73 percent voting yes with about half the precincts counted. The bulk of the money in Question 4 is for improvements to the state's highways and bridges. Voters also approved Question 3, seeking $5 million for land and conservation easements for outdoor recreation. And they approved Question 5, seeking $7.9 million for public drinking water systems and wastewater treatment facilities.
Read More: San Francisco Gate 11/7
*Editor’s Note* ASCE members in Maine were sent a Key Alert urging their support of Questions 4 and 5.


Mississippi
Bryant worries $500 million for Port in danger
Governor Phil Bryant said Wednesday he wants quicker action on issues stalling development at the Port of Gulfport so the project moves forward and produces 1,200 new jobs in order for officials to avoid the chance of losing $500 million in federal money. The governor is worried the $570 million project's unused funds, which aren't being spent quickly as plans for the site have bogged down, could be taken back by Congress. The money comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and it has to be used to create some 1,200s job, 50 percent of which must go to people of low and moderate income, as part of the state's agreement with the feds.
Read More: Sun Herald 11/7


New Mexico
High court sides with state engineer on water rules
The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday reversed lower courts in a decision that reaffirms the water-rights authority of the Office of the State Engineer. The case originated in 2007, when Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association — a wholesale electric-power supplier owned by 44 electric cooperatives in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and New Mexico — sued John D’Antonio Jr., then state engineer. It concerns D’Antonio’s 2004 Active Water Resource Management regulations, written to address the concerns of the Legislature that water-rights adjudication in New Mexico was moving too slowly and that the state engineer needed more authority to administer water allocations. The rules allowed the state engineer to identify water districts in need of management, to appoint a water master to manage those districts and to carry out interim priority management while waiting for courts to adjudicate those water rights.
Read More: Santa Fe New Mexican 7/1


Oklahoma
Oklahoma Transportation Commission approves county road and bridge funding program
Oklahoma transportation officials Monday approved a road and bridge improvement program for the next five years that will clear the way for more than $903 million of new construction on county roads and bridges in each of the state's 77 counties. The state Transportation Commission accepted the report, which calls for the money, which will be increased as a result of legislation passed this year, to be distributed equally by the state Transportation Department's eight transportation commissions.
Read more: The Oklahoman 11/6

Oklahoma state ballot questions 758, 759, 762, 764, 765 and 766 passed
Oklahoma voters approved all six state questions Tuesday at the polls. State Questions 758, 759, 762, 765 and 766 ranged from the merits of affirmative action to corporate tax exemptions. ASCE sent out a Key Alert to it’s members in Oklahoma supporting State Question 764. State Question 764 would create a $300 million bonding authority for the Oklahoma Water Resource Board (OWRB) in the case of water and sewage treatment loan defaults.
Read more: KJRH 1/6


Virginia
For flood-prone Fairfax neighborhood, levee bond’s win is ‘a lifesaver’
For the flood-prone, working-class neighborhood of Huntington, in eastern Fairfax County, Tuesday’s election delivered an especially important win: Voters overwhelmingly approved a$30 million bond measure to pay for a levee that many consider the neighborhood’s last hope. Although bond referendums generally pass by big margins in Fairfax, one of the wealthiest counties in the country, county officials and Huntington residents were dubious that taxpayers would support an expensive project to protect fewer than 200 homes. Had they not, the only option left might have been to tear down the houses, replace them with a park and allow redevelopment nearby.
Read More: Washington Post 11/7

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