Transportation Policy Accord Reached

June 28, 2012 05:39 AM
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via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Ag exemptions part of accord

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Details will be released later today, but Transportation conferees reportedly reached a tentative deal that would keep current funding levels for transportation through the end of Fiscal 2014 (until Sept. 30, 2014), and it would change federal mandates for states to use some of their Highway Trust Fund allocations on roadside enhancements, a major goal of House Republicans.

Republicans gave up their language on the Keystone XL oil pipeline and state regulation of coal ash as a tradeoff to streamline permitting of transportation projects and to strip out a Senate-passed $1.4 billion expansion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Money for the highway trust funds would come from the general treasury fund, which would be replenished by a change to pension interest rates and an increase in Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Premiums.

The transportation bill and student loan measure will be in the same legislation. The legislation will prevent student loan interest rates from doubling. Rates for Stafford loans were due to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent at the end of the month without congressional action.

The package will include flood insurance legislation.

Several ag exemptions in surface transportation bill compromise deal. The compromise includes a provision exempting farm trucks from several trucking regulations, including drug testing, requirements for commercial licenses and limits on hours of service.  The exemption applies to all farm vehicles under 26,000 pounds that are hauling commodities, livestock and equipment operated by farmers, ranchers and employees. Heavier trucks are exempted as well, within 150 miles of the farm or ranch. The bill also includes language requiring the Transp. Dept. to develop regs for improving the visibility of farm equipment, both during the day and night.  

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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