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Meet the Legislative Committee!

Legislative Committee
Chair: J. Barry Barker, executive director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY; chair since 2014
APTA Staff Advisors: James LaRusch, Rob Healy, Art Guzzetti
481 members | Find details here.

What is your committee’s role for APTA and the industry as a whole?

The Legislative Committee works to develop consensus on legislative and regulatory issues impacting our industry—whether it’s bus, rail, paratransit or private businesses providing services to public transportation.

Working with APTA staff, we track the legislative and regulatory environment and help members understand what is happening with federal funding and regulation. We provide members with opportunities for input, and we advocate on behalf of the industry to Congress and the administration.

We have seven subcommittees covering specific focus areas to help identify issues: Business Member Government Affairs; Commuter Rail and Intercity; Federal Procedures and Regulations; Funding, Finance and Tax Policy; Intergovernmental Issues; Small Operations; and Transit Board Members. Legislative policies are developed from the ­subcommittees and the full committee before being recommended to the APTA Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

What are the committee’s top priorities for the year?

With the passage last year of a five-year, fully-funded federal transportation bill, the FAST Act, a huge goal was accomplished. Now the priority shifts to maximizing the benefits of the legislation for the public transportation community as the annual appropriation bills begin to play out. We will make sure APTA is heard during the decision-making process.

We’ll also be taking a look at how we can be even more effective. We’ve assembled an Advocacy Guidelines Task Force to examine how we define and present our legislative agenda to Congress and the administration. This task force will meet at upcoming APTA conferences and we invite everyone to be engaged in this important work.

How does the committee engage members in those priorities?

The committee has a variety of ways to engage ­members—information exchanges, networking, sharing of best practices and through APTA’s conferences and communications channels. We provide updates and information and encourage members to be knowledgeable and advocate in their communities and with their elected leadership at all levels.

APTA’s committees play an important role in fulfilling the association’s commitment to developing industry leaders, especially young professionals. Please share how your committee encourages young professionals to participate in its work. We encourage everyone to get involved and are open to new people and fresh ideas. If you are attending an APTA conference, try to show up for the committee meetings, which are typically held Saturday or Sunday at the start of a conference.

Those meetings are the lifeblood behind the scenes. Get to know committee members, understand the process and learn about the issues and how they impact your organization and the services provided. It’s easy to learn about legislative issues, and opportunities are there for all voices to be heard. The door is open.

Please share how an individual’s service on this committee can add value to his or her career.

Being part of the Legislative Committee can open doors to career advancement because of the knowledge you will gain and the people you will meet. You can become knowledgeable in the workings of the federal funding process, gaining invaluable information for maximizing the return on investment to your transit authority.

You can learn from your peers and establish a network of resources, a sounding board for best practices and lessons learned as you pursue your career goals. You are exposed to a variety of challenges, opportunities, practices and people with new ideas and a variety of perspectives. It’s a great learning experience.

Please describe the committee’s work to advance the goals in APTA’s strategic plan (safety and security first, resource advocacy, workforce development, demographic shifts and technological innovation).

The goals in APTA’s strategic plan are linked to the legislative and regulatory process. Everything we do reinforces APTA’s strategic plan initiatives. For example, our work on the long-term federal transportation legislation resulted in a win to advance APTA goals and a brighter future for public transportation in communities throughout the country.

There is much more to the story, and important elements are often in the fine print. Research funding (for example, the Transportation Cooperative Research Program) was increased but not fully restored. APTA members on a variety of committees are examining the details and we look ahead to continued work and advocacy.
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