Voices in Washington, DC: 2019 Legislative Summit Recap
Monday was the start of the 2019 Legislative Summit, a two-day event on Capitol Hill. Forty attendees learned about TDM policy and ACT’s efforts to raise the profile of TDM at the federal level, met key staff working on TDM policy issues, networked with other professionals in the field, and met with their own representatives in Congress to discuss the value of their programs and why TDM matters.
Day 1 kicked off with a special keynote address from former Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Bill Shuster. Recognizing the rapid advancement of new technologies in transportation, Chairman Shuster shared his thoughts on the needs of the next transportation authorization and the role TDM can play to support mobility for all.
The first panel of the morning focused on prioritizing TDM within federal transportation authorization, and featured Rebecca Higgins, Senior Policy Advisor for the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, who expressed support for greater support for TDM. Alex Beckmann, Legislative Assistant for Congressman Lipinski, the sponsor for ACT’s MORE Through TDM legislation, emphasized the need for communities, urban and rural, to prioritize TDM before looking to build new roadway infrastructure.
This was followed by a discussion addressing the impacts of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act on transportation fringe benefits. ACT is committed to repealing language in the bill requiring exempt organizations to pay unrelated business income tax on transit benefits and we were honored to have Andrew Grossman, Chief Tax Counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee share his thoughts on the path forward for Congress.
Alison Cassady, Deputy Staff Director for the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, provided an update to attendees on the role of the committee and its desire to identify recommendations to address transportation’s contributions to climate change. Aspects of ACT’s TDM legislation could be incorporated within these recommendations and ACT members are encouraged to voice their support of TDM through the committee’s website.
In the afternoon, panelists discussed commuter benefits and how they could be expanded to incorporate new modes and be supported through technologies not available when federal transit benefits were first adopted over 30 years ago. The panel included Jon Bosworth, Senior Legislative Assistant for Congressman Blumenauer, who is leading efforts to reinstate the bicycle benefit and expand commuter benefits.
The final panel of the day focused on supporting innovation and technology through federal policy and featured a range of transportation providers that are utilizing new technologies and developing innovative solutions to encourage mode shift. ACT is encouraging Congress to support policies and programs within the next authorization bill that encourage investments in new technologies and remove hurdles preventing new practices and business models.
ACT was honored to present Commuter Champion Awards to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) for his efforts to repeal UBIT on transit benefits through the Economic Mobility Act recently passed by the committee and to Congressman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) for his sponsorship of ACT's MORE Through TDM legislation, aimed at raising the role of TDM within federal transportation policy.
Many attendees stayed for the second day of the event, which was dedicated to Hill meetings with Congressional offices. Participants met with over 30 offices and used the opportunity to inform their local representatives and their staff about the TDM programs they work on and how they add value to their communities, the need to repeal UBIT on transit benefits, and to encourage support for ACT’s MORE Through TDM legislation.
We are grateful for the participation from all of our panelists and moderators, Chairman Shuster, and Representatives Neal and Lipinski for helping to amplify the voices of ACT members in Washington and for their support of TDM.