Utility Contractor

SEP-OCT 2018

As the official magazine of NUCA, Utility Contractor presents the latest information affecting every aspect of the utility construction industry, including technological advancements, safety issues, legislative developments and instructional advice.

Issue link: http://digital.utilitycontractoronline.com/i/1031723

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Page 33 of 43

34 Utility Contractor | September/October 2018 A s part of his campaign, Presi- dent Trump promised to re- build America's infrastructure. Both Republicans and Demo- crats have expressed support for this goal, and in the months immediately following the president's inauguration, it seemed as if infrastructure might be the one issue that members from both par- ties could agree on. Almost two years out from the 2016 elections, it is now clear that a compre- hensive infrastructure plan will not be enacted before the end of this Congress. Instead of moving infrastructure in the opening days of this administration, Congress and the White House instead focused on healthcare and tax reform. Although President Trump issued his "Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America," in Febru- ary 2018, his plan did not specify how his proposals would be paid for. While his plan did put forward interesting ideas to spur investment in infrastruc- ture, discussions on the proposal have stalled. This has left infrastructure in- vestment and reform as an often dis- cussed, but unfortunately ignored, leg- islative priority. In an effort to continue the conversa- tion on infrastructure, on July 23, 2018, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster re- leased a draft infrastructure plan. While this legislation most likely won't be considered by Congress before the end of the year, it represents an important starting point on infrastructure discus- sions and will help to keep the issue on Congress' agenda. In releasing the leg- islation, Chairman Shuster said, "This discussion draft does not represent a complete and final infrastructure bill. It is meant to reignite discussions amongst my colleagues, and I urge all Members to be open-minded and willing to work together in considering real solutions that will give America the modern-day infrastructure it needs." Of particular interest to our indus- try, Chairman Shuster's proposal in- cludes much-needed investments and improvements to water infrastructure. Additionally, the bill addresses fund- ing for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), promotes innovative mechanisms to fa- cilitate private investment in infrastruc- ture, and reduces regulatory burdens. It is very encouraging that these propos- als were included in this draft, and as conversations with lawmakers continue about infrastructure, it will be necessary to highlight their inclusion and dem- onstrate the importance of addressing these issues in any final bill. For water infrastructure, this legis- lative proposal would reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program. The CWSRF is one of the most important and effective programs that protects clean water and public health. Originally enacted by the Water Quality Act of 1987, the CWSRF program has continued to receive fund- ing even though its authorization ex- pired in 1994. Most recently, for Fiscal Year 2018, Congress provided $1.694 billion for the program. Chairman Shus- ter's proposal would authorize $3 billion for this program from Fiscal Year 2019 through 2023. Additionally, the bill would simplify the process for states and communities seeking assistance through this program and make additional assis- tance available to communities of fewer than 10,000 people. Reauthorization of the CWSRF has been a long-time goal for NUCA. While the Chairman's proposal doesn't address some issues that have stymied reautho- rization in the past, such as reforming the program's allocation formula, the inclusion of the reauthorization recog- nizes the importance of this program and gives us a foothold in negotiations. In addition to reauthorizing the CWS- INSIDE WASHINGTON House Introduces Draft Infrastructure Plan While this legislation most likely won't be considered by Congress before the end of the year, it represents an important starting point on infrastructure discussions.

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