Senate highway bill backs away from tolling

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 5/13/2014

A U.S. Senate committee has tossed its proposed highway bill into the ring for consideration.

Different from the White House’s highway bill draft proposal released in late April, the version offered by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee steers clear of allowing more tolls on existing interstate highways.

Another major difference between the proposals so far is that the Senate EPW version calls for a full six years of funding and programs while the White House version calls for four years.

Senate EPW Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and ranking member David Vitter, R-La., unveiled their 150-page draft on Monday night, May 12, joined by subcommittee leaders Tom Carper, D-Del., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

The “big four” senators have dubbed their draft the “MAP-21 Reauthorization Act,” named after its predecessor, MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, which became law in 2012. MAP-21 is scheduled to expire Sept. 30.

The EPW Committee plans to mark up its bill, S2322, on Thursday. A committee markup is typically where amendments are offered.

At this point, the highway bill is simply a draft – a proposal. The House of Representatives has yet to offer its draft, which will differ again from the Senate version and the White House versions. Other committees will be weighing in as well, including on highly contested issues of funding, public-private partnerships and motor carrier safety programs.

OOIDA supports the concept of a long-term highway bill and applauds the Senate EPW Committee for rejecting the idea of converting interstate highways into toll roads.

Beyond the highlights, OOIDA continues to educate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to get the best highway bill for truckers. The Association urges truckers to stay informed and involved in the process.

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