March 11, 2019
AWB
   
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Federal Issues

Signs point to improving climate for federal infrastructure package

Last week, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee held its first hearing on measures to fund a federal infrastructure package. Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said he's had positive interactions with the administration, and said, “I think we have a real opportunity to work together and do something big here.”

Indeed, both congressional Democrats and the White House agree on the need for infrastructure action. In a new policy brief, K&L Gates examines the landscape and the chances for action, sharing this assessment:

The Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives represents the biggest recent change in the landscape, with a new suite of leaders poised to make their mark on infrastructure policy. For the most part, many Democratic lawmakers share the president’s view, also held by many congressional Republicans, that significant investment is urgently needed to maintain and improve the country’s infrastructure.

The White House drove the infrastructure debate during the last Congress, with the administration releasing a comprehensive infrastructure plan in February 2018.

Now, the center of gravity has shifted to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue – to the House in particular. House Democrats are expected to initiate action on a major infrastructure funding package this year. The Republican-controlled Senate will then be in the driver’s seat to consider the proposal, with input from the White House; Senate Democrats will also have a major role to play given the 60-vote threshold requirement in that chamber.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on Feb. 7 where Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) declared, “We are starting off by sounding the alarm bells – investing in America’s infrastructure cannot wait.”

A key challenge for previous infrastructure investment proposals has been the difficulty of moving a significant package when there are so many other “must-pass” pieces of legislation competing for congressional attention, according to K&L Gates.

However, with authorization for surface transportation programs scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2020, there is already a “must-pass” infrastructure item on the agenda of the 116th Congress. The surface transportation reauthorization could provide a vehicle for a broader infrastructure package or a fallback option if efforts to advance a separate package fall short.

The central question of the infrastructure debate remains how to pay for a package costing potentially a trillion dollars or more. The gas tax has not been increased since 1993, underscoring the political difficulty of raising new revenue from existing sources. That may lead policymakers to consider other options, such as a carbon or a financial transactions tax.

As with the tax reform effort that concluded in 2017, major action on infrastructure may be a multi-year effort that spans multiple Congresses. However, as with tax reform, engagement in the early stages of the policy process is essential to shaping the final outcome.

“If you haven’t yet considered the potential opportunities of infrastructure – including the opportunities that could be created by congressional Democrats’ broader view of the issue – now is the time,” K&L Gates writes.

Their full policy brief is worth a read.

The National Association of Manufacturers is also shining a spotlight on the need for infrastructure investment. A new report, "Building to Win," highlights the important fact that great nations build and invest in great infrastructure.

"Now in an alarming state of disrepair and in urgent need of new funding, America’s infrastructure can no longer wait. Families, communities and manufacturers need modern transportation, energy, broadband and water infrastructure to meet the demands of today’s economy. The modern manufacturing economy we are building does not have the kind of infrastructure we need to support our vision for an exceptional America," the report says. A new video also highlights the need and opportunities.

For more on federal issues, contact AWB's Amy Anderson. For more on AWB's engagement on infrastructure at the statewide level, contact Mike Ennis.



« Back to Main
Workforce Summit
Inspiring Action


Hair stylists embody democracy in action

By AWB President Kris Johnson

It was an impressive display of grassroots organizing. Arranged solely through a quick online effort, the state Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hearing was jam-packed with hair stylists, salon owners and cosmetologists on Jan. 28.

Thousands of people signed in to testify and a line of professionals stretched from the Senate hearing room outside to the domed building on the Capitol campus nearly a football field away.

Those small-business owners and independent contractors converged on Olympia on short notice from every part of the state to testify against bills that would severely restrict who can and cannot be classified as an "independent contractor" in Washington state.

It was a powerful sight and an inspiring illustration of democracy in action.

That bill, and others like it introduced this session, would severely hamper those entrepreneurs' ability to continue to operate as their own boss...

Read the full column in South Sound Business
Carbon Costs


Time to stall climate bills that would raise gas prices

By Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial Board

Recycling is all well and good, but not when it comes to the Legislature's latest attempt to combat climate change by proposing solutions that result in higher gas prices, thus putting the pocketbook hurt on all Washingtonians, especially those in the Yakima Valley.

Didn't voters just reject a plan, Initiative 1631, that would place a fee on carbon polluters (that's you, large, multi-national oil companies) while virtually assuring that residents would see a significant price rise at the pump and higher electricity bills?

... Washington's regressive tax system already disproportionately affects those with the least wiggle room in their household budgets. Lower-income residents seemingly are just as concerned with combating climate change as those of more means, but they will be unfairly called upon to bear the bulk of the burden.

Read the full editorial in The Yakima Herald-Republic
Upcoming Events
«

Dec

»
SMTWTFS
123457
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930311234

«

Jan

»
SMTWTFS
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
26272930311