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Pushing Bipartisan Surface Transportation Modernization, Balderson Offers Commonsense Solutions

Washington, June 19, 2020
WASHINGTON – Congressman Troy Balderson (R-OH) was in Washington, D.C. this week to offer multiple amendments to a partisan surface transportation bill produced by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Democrats. During yesterday’s markup of the INVEST in America Act, Balderson proposed four amendments that would enact commonsense solutions and reforms to improve the nation’s surface transportation and joined several fellow committee members in introducing alternative legislation, the STARTER Act, that includes bipartisan initiatives.

“Transportation issues universally affect Ohioans’ everyday lives,” said Balderson. “When constructing much-needed reforms to surface transportation, it’s critical my colleagues and I set aside politics and instead prioritize the needs of all of our constituents through commonsense solutions that rebuild our roads and create jobs. We’re a nation founded on bipartisanship and compromise. Those values have shaped and improved our country over the past two centuries. That’s no different today—we must work together to achieve positive change for all Americans—which is why I’m a proud co-author of the STARTER Act. Together, I believe our parties can find common ground not only on surface transportation reforms, but also a larger infrastructure package.”


The Surface Transportation Advanced through Reform, Technology, & Efficient Review (STARTER) Act was introduced today by Balderson, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-SC), and 20 fellow committee members as an alternative to the INVEST in America Act. The legislation offers several pragmatic solutions including nationally significant freight and highway projects, a national highway freight program, truck parking safety improvement, environmental reviews for major projects, formula grants for rural areas, grants for bus and bus facilities, technical assistance and workforce development, national priority safety programs, and more.

Balderson’s amendments to the hyper-partisan INVEST in America Act include the following initiatives covering a variety of surface transportation industries:

TRUCKING

  • Establishing an apprenticeship program to train qualified 18 to 20-year-old CDL holders to safely operate in interstate commerce.
    • Currently, 18-year-olds are able to obtain CDLs in 49 states but prohibited from driving commercial vehicles across state lines.
    • The program would require these drivers to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver and a vigorous set of benchmarks and performance standards the drivers must pass before they are able to cross state lines.

“The DRIVE-Safe Act was inspired right here in the Crossroads of America, where logistics and transportation play crucial roles in our economy and connect us to every corner of the country, including just across our eastern state border to Ohio,” said Congressman Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), author of the DRIVE-Safe Act, from which Balderson’s amendment was adapted. “Including the DRIVE-Safe Act in any surface transportation reform legislation passed by Congress would increase trucking career opportunities, help all sectors of our country’s economy keep up with shipping demand, and help regrow our economy post-coronavirus.”

RAIL

  • Striking the arbitrary time limit established by the INVEST in America Act that would impose a 10-minute time limit for trains, locomotives, railroad cars, or other rail equipment blocking public grade crossings and a $25,000 fine for violators.
    • The underlying bill already requires the DOT to submit a report to Congress containing a national strategy to address blocked crossings.

MOTORCYCLISTS

  • Including motorcyclists in a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) study created by the INVEST in America Act on safe interactions between automated vehicles and road users
    • With more than 400,000 motorcyclists on the road in Ohio, it is vital they have a seat at the table to ensure their concerns are voiced regarding the deployment of new technology.
    • Specifying motorcyclists as a unique category, similar to the designation of bicyclists.
    • Adding a representative of motorcyclist interests to the working group enlisted to assist DOT in this study.
  • Preventing the profiling of motorcyclists through the use of motorcycle-specific checkpoints.

Balderson, an avid motorcyclist and member of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus, was pleased his motorcycle amendments passed the committee for inclusion in the final bill reported out of the committee.

“The American Motorcyclist Association thanks Congressman Balderson for his work supporting motorcyclists while Congress considers the next highway funding bill,” said Michael Sayre, Director of Government Relations for the American Motorcyclist Association, based in Central Ohio. “From working to ensure motorcyclists are including in a proposed study on the interaction between automated vehicles and other road users to continuing the important work of the Motorcyclist Advisory Council, Congressman Balderson—a lifelong motorcyclist and longtime AMA member himself—is ensuring motorcyclists have a voice during the legislative process.”

“The Motorcycle Riders Foundation is thankful that lawmakers like Congressman Balderson have taken the time to consider the priorities of the over 8.6 motorcyclists on our nations roadways,” said Kirk Willard, President of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. “As a motorcyclist himself, Congressman Balderson understands that motorcyclists represent every facet of our nation. As Congress considers this massive piece of legislation, it is reassuring that legislators like Congressman Balderson have the interests of all roadway users at heart.”

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