Spending Bill Includes Key Industry Priorities on Hours of Service, Resilient Construction
This past Friday, President Trump signed a $1.1 omnibus spending bill, approved by Congress earlier in the week, which included several NRMCA-advocated initiatives advancing the ready mixed concrete industry. The bill, which will fund the federal government through September, adds a number of NRMCA legislative victories, emphasizing the importance of our buildings program and resilient construction. It also increases federal investment in our nation’s highway funding and provides permanent relief to truckers of burdensome Hours of Service regulations.
The bill included many resilient construction provisions designed to mitigate the negative impact brought on by natural disasters and extreme weather events, which can save lives, reduce destruction to property, and enable faster economic recovery – including a definition of resilient construction techniques championed by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). Resilient construction is defined as construction methods that allow a structure to resist the hazards of a major disaster and continue to provide its primary functions once the disaster has occurred. The Department of Housing and Urban Development was also instructed to study ways to make buildings more resilient.
In addition, NRMCA requested a provision to be included for the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) to partner with other research institutions with expertise in disaster mitigation and to recommend best practices for resilient planning and construction. Recognizing that some resilient construction techniques exceed minimal building code standards, the bill also calls for NIST to partner with other research institutions – like the Concrete Sustainability Hub at MIT – and study best practices for resilient planning and construction. The Federal Emergency Management Administration is also asked to adopt uniform national guidelines for the design and construction of safe rooms and to incorporate safe rooms into federal buildings.
In addition to resilient construction provisions, the spending bill will increase federal highway investment to $43.3 billion in FY 2017 – the full amount authorized by 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. It also will provide $12.4 billion for the public transportation program which exceeds the amount called for under the FAST Act, but this amount will help make up for $124 million shortfall between FY 2016 authorized and appropriated levels for the transit Capital Investment Grants Program. NRMCA sent a letter supporting the spending bill and also signed onto a Transportation Construction Coalition support letter.
Included in the spending bill are provisions that provide permanent regulatory relief for truck drivers from two overly burdensome additions to the Hours of Service Restart Rule. This will restore the Hours of Service standards to what they were before the Obama Administration imposed two unjustified restrictions on America’s 3.5 million professional truck drivers – restrictions that were later found to be baseless by a Department of Transportation study. NRMCA supported an Hours of Service coalition led by the hard work of the American Trucking Association (ATA). NRMCA will continue to partner with ATA and the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association on similar trucking and HOS matters.
Both the resilient construction and the transportation provisions are wins for the ready mixed concrete industry in establishing a standard and definition for resilient construction and in relieving the industry of burdensome regulations.
For more information, contact Kerri Leininger at email@example.com.