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Administration Infrastructure Plan to be Released Soon, Alabama Could Hit a Dead End

With the failure of the Alabama prison construction bill to pass in the 2017 regular legislative session, expect a special session to resume the attempt to forestall federal intervention in Alabama’s overcrowded prisons.

A special session would be the opportune time to resurrect the Alabama infrastructure investment attempt in order to create a pool of money for the Trump Administration’s infrastructure plan to be soon announced.

Without new money, Alabama will be left behind in obtaining federal dollars and will be significantly behind neighboring states of Tennessee and South Carolina, which have increased their fuel taxes this year, in preparing for new commercial and industrial development.

In all, California, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee, and South Carolina have passed road funding measures in 2017, fuel tax increases ranging from 6 cents to 12 cents a gallon. In all, 22 states have increased their fuel taxes since 2012. Alabama last increased its gasoline tax in 1992.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao this week said that the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan will be released in a few weeks. It will call for $200 billion in taxpayer money and generate $1 trillion in private investment.

“These funds will be used to leverage $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years,” Chao told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She said the federal investment in rebuilding America’s roads and bridges, as well as water, pipelines and other projects, will be offset by unspecified savings “in order to avoid saddling future generations with more debt.”

President Donald Trump’s pledge to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure over 10 years was a top campaign promise, but it has received little attention because health care and tax reform have been the big legislative priorities, The Associated Press reported.

Alabama currently is not in position to take advantage of such a plan as there is no state money to match federal spending. An attempt in the 2017 legislative session to raise infrastructure revenue was not successful but infrastructure investment efforts are ongoing.


BCA SUPPORTS CAREER-TECH ACT

The Business Council of Alabama joined hundreds of other similar organizations in asking Congress to support reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act that will help Americans develop the skills they need to compete for high-skill, in-demand jobs. The legislation is a bipartisan effort that would help our nation’s students acquire the skills needed to be successful in today’s work environment.

The legislation had overwhelming support and passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 405-5.

The National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are working with the Perkins CTE Coalition to deliver a joint letter urging members of Congress to support legislation to successfully reauthorize the Perkins program, a letter the BCA signed.

High-quality Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, supported by the Perkins Act, are an effective tool for improving student outcomes and help prepare both secondary and postsecondary students with the necessary academic, technical and employability skills required for successful entry into the workforce. CTE prepares students both for college and careers and is critical to meeting the needs of the 21st century economy.


BUSINESS LEADERS SEEK PERMANENT TAX CUTS

Business leaders testified to Congress on Thursday that it’s “critical” for tax changes to be made permanent.

“Permanence is critical, because I make decisions over three years, five years and 10 years,” Emerson Electric Chairman and CEO David Farr said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing. “I don’t make a decision by a quarter.”

Republican leaders of the committee want to pursue comprehensive tax reform legislation that is permanent and revenue-neutral after accounting for economic growth. The hearing was the first in a series of Ways and Means hearings on tax reform.

Business leaders who testified said that tax change permanency is crucial because it gives their businesses certainty while they consider making long-term investments and reduces risks.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Industry Seeks Speedier Permitting and Simpler Environmental Rules
Reuters (Volcovici, Gardner 05/17) “U.S. industry groups have told President Donald Trump’s administration that they want two main things from his promised regulatory overhaul: a speedier permit process and simpler environmental rules. Associations representing the drilling, refining, mining, and building industries have submitted hundreds of pages of documents to the Commerce Department and Environmental Protection Agency in recent weeks, outlining regulations they want to see eliminated or modified.

“The comments, many targeting the EPA, come in response to a pair of executive orders Trump signed during his first weeks in office, meant to cut the regulatory burden on companies. Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have already moved to rescind a slew of Obama-era environmental protections, including some aimed at combating global climate change.

“The EPA’s regulatory reform office alone has received remarks from more than 65,000 people and groups, many of them criticizing the regulatory rollback plan as a potential threat to public health. But business groups have embraced the plan, calling it the best chance in more than a decade to reshape the regulatory landscape and boost growth, without undermining air and water quality. This time around, industry groups appear focused on easing the permitting process for new facilities and installations, according to a Reuters review of the comments.”

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Dana Beyerle

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