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Highway Users in Action, Issue 6, 2010

Upcoming Events

Congressional Welcome Reception – Mark Your Calendars Today!  Highway Users members are invited to attend the Welcome Reception for Members of Congress and their transportation staffers – February 15, 2011, 5:00 – 7:00 pm.  Room 2167 – Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Room, Rayburn House Office Building.  Be recognized at the event as a sponsoring organization!  Sponsorships start at $500 for Highway Users’ members.  Please contact info@highways.org for sponsorship information.

Legislation, Regulation & Policy

112th Congress Will Shake Up the Transportation World – The Highway Users is optimistic about the 112th Congress’ ability to enact a highway bill in 2011.  Although we’ve lost a transportation champion in the defeat of Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), we are extremely excited to work with the new leadership of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.  The presumptive incoming Chairman is John Mica (R-Fla.) and the likely Ranking Democrat is Nick Rahall (D-WVa.).  Both have extensive experience on the committee and are seen as strong advocates for highways, streamlining, and other Highway Users priorities.  The Senate EPW committee leadership will remain the same.  Senior White House and Treasury staffers have recently increased their interest in highway investments as a way for the Obama Administration to secure a domestic policy achievement that grows the economy and creates jobs.  The Highway Users has had several meetings with key Obama officials from outside the Department of Transportation and we are seeing signs that the Administration will elevate highways as an essential part of a new economic growth plan.  We have urged Administration officials to re-think the more divisive DOT policies of the past two years – particularly the anti-motorist “livability” agenda.  Bottom line:  we believe that a bipartisan Congress will write a better bill in 2011 with strong White House support and more motorist friendly policies.  We will also work closely to support programmatic reform, streamlining, performance-based policies, and robust funding and financing solutions.

Letter to Deficit Commission – The Highway Users sent a letter to Members of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission on November 2nd and reached-out to individual commission members to ensure that our views are considered.  The letter urged the fiscal commission to consider highway programs as a special issue because the program is substantially trust-funded and it grows the nation’s economy.  The letter calls on the commission to support increased highway funding as part of its overall recommendations.  Co-Chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson have since released draft recommendations that are consistent with our letter and include a 15-cent increase in the gasoline tax for the Highway Trust Fund.  The Highway Users is pleased with the recommendations and particularly gratified that the co-chairs do not support increasing the gasoline tax for non‑transportation purposes such as d eficit reduction.

Upcoming Board Meeting – February 16, 2011 – The next Highway Users Board of Directors meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 in Washington, DC.  Board Members:  Please mark your calendars!  In related news, The Highway Users hosted its 2010 Annual Meeting last month with several notable speakers, including a keynote address by US DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari.  Other speakers included Dr. Jose Holguin-Veras from Rennselaer and Dr. Steven Polzin of the University of South Florida.  Veras examined urban freight demand issues while Polzin spoke about congestion and travel demand.  To read more about their latest research, view their presentations at our web site at www.highways.org.

Grassroots Program Continues to Expand – We have amassed more than 10,500+ fans and counting through The Highway Users Facebook page!  Each week our fan base grows, helping us bolster our grassroots network as we prepare an outside-the-Beltway constituency for the upcoming highway authorization battles and other advocacy efforts.  At our summer Highway Users meeting, Senator Max Baucus commended us for our innovative approach to garnering a new grassroots army.  If you haven’t already done so, please become a fan at www.facebook.com/highwayusers.

Think Snow! – Greg Cohen was a featured speaker at this year’s Road Weather Policy Forum, a unique gathering of DOT staff, National Weather Service staff and private consultants in Washington DC.  The event was designed to help the agencies work together to supply information useful to highway users who face the task of driving in poor weather.  The Highway Users’ presentation can be found here.  Other member organizations represented included the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.  Highway Users staff also attended the kick-off event for the Montgomery County snowfighting team in Rockville, Maryland.  After last winter’s “snowmaggedon”, we issued a report on the economic costs closed roads due to snow storms.  The costs per day reached into the hundreds of millions of dollars per state.  Our economic study, developed by IHS was discussed before Montgomery County’s front line workers to help encourage them of the value of public service they provide to the community.  The Highway Users will be actively reviewing snowfighting successes and challenges for the coming winter.  We are urging State, County, & Municipal governments to aggressively prepare for whatever comes.  Look on the Highway Users Facebook site this winter, for real drivers’ reactions to snowfighting efforts around the country.

Recent Presentations to Highway Users Members – Highway Users President Greg Cohen has given multiple talks to update member companies and associations on Washington politics and policy.  To view the pre-election presentation given at the American Trucking Associations management conference, click here.  For a post-election analysis given at the Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association Annual Meeting, click here.  Depending on your membership level, you may be entitled to in-person or virtual briefings on issues of interest to your company.  Learn more by emailing Cheryl Hollins at cherylhollins@highways.org.

Fighting Fuel Tax Evasion – We all know that money for the Highway Trust Fund is in short supply.  But many of us don’t realize that there is bleeding from fuel tax evasion and fraud.  The Highway Users has been a strong proponent of a strong and technologically-advanced IRS fuel tax fraud enforcement program.  We simply cannot afford to lose billions of dollars to fraud.  Highway Users staff met with the IRS/DOT Joint Taskforce on Fuel Tax fraud to learn more about the latest efforts to crack down on criminal activity.  We were extremely impressed with the recent progress from the team and will be continuing our efforts to help them in reauthorization.  For more information, contact gregcohen@highways.org.

2010 Year in Review – Check out the highlights of The Highway Users advocacy efforts in 2010.  Read it here.

Help Build Our Grassroots Efforts – We sincerely thank our generous grassroots campaign platinum sponsors Chevron; CEMEX; National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association; along with Bronze Sponsor, Associated Asphalt and we ask all members to sponsor a grassroots campaign.  Campaign sponsors have been critical to our funding efforts for grassroots growth and education.  We need to bring together the voices of 25,000 thousand highway users to the halls of Congress and our media outlets this year.  Traditional lobbying efforts, while important, are insufficient to achieve the legislative results we need.  We’re focusing on two groundbreaking outside-the-beltway campaigns to organize motorists, businesses, and professional drivers to become the educated, outspoken supporters of national investment in highway and bridge infrastructure.  First, we’re fighting back against anti-highway, anti-mobility forces.  Second, we’re building an army of highway users willing to pay for the investments needed to keep America’s highways moving.  Please let us know how you are willing to help.

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