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April 27, 2012
Senate and House Announce Transportation Authorization Conferees
The U.S. Senate appointed conferees on April 24 who will be charged with negotiating the House-Senate conference on the surface transportation authorization bill. Democratic conferees named by the Senate were: Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Max Baucus (D-MT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Republican conferees included: Jim Inhofe (R-OK), David Vitter (R-LA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and John Hoeven (R-ND).
On April 25, the House appointed their conferees consisting of Republicans: John Mica (R-FL), Don Young (R-AK), John Duncan (R-TN), Bill Shuster (R-PA), Shelley Capito (R-WV), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Jaime Beutler (R-WA), Larry Buschon (R-IN), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Steve Southerland (R-FL), James Lankford (R-OK), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Fred Upton (R-MI), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Doc Hastings (R-WA), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Ralph Hall (R-TX), Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Dave Camp (R-MI), and Patrick Tiberi (R-OH). Democratic conferees included:  Nick Rahall (D-WV), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Jerrold Nadler (D- NY), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Leonard Boswell (D-IA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D- DC). 
APTA urges members from the states and districts listed above to reach out to the conferees from their state and insist on a bill that supports public transportation and a long-term stable funding source. The first meeting is scheduled for May 8.
Public Transportation Initiatives Being Placed on Ballots Nationwide
While the Presidential election isn’t until November, many local initiatives are beginning to take center stage. This week two municipalities in Louisiana approved expanded funding for the Capital Area Transit System with a 10-year, $10.6 million property tax passing in both Baker and Baton Rouge.
This month voters will go to the polls in Washington County, AR, to consider a ¼ cent sales tax to fund Ozark Regional Transit, and voters in Vienna and Parkersburg, WV, will see two-year renewals on property taxes supporting the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority on a May 8 ballot.
Finally, the Virginia Beach, VA, city council approved placing a question on the November ballot supporting expanding The Tide light rail into Virginia Beach.  

House Members Testify on Behalf of Commuter Benefits
On April 27, before a hearing on tax extenders legislation -- convened by Select Revenue Measures subcommittee Chairman Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) testified about the need to restore pre-tax public transportation commuter benefits to parity with the parking tax benefit.  The public transportation tax benefit temporarily achieved parity as a component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  However, that provision expired on January 1, 2011, and the commuter benefit reverted to the old standard of a monthly $125 pre-tax benefit, while the parking benefit actually increased from $230 to $240.  In the face of increased commuting costs, APTA strongly supports restoring parity to public transportation tax benefits.


The Rail Conference is coming up quickly -- June 3-6 in Dallas! The activities range from the APTF Benefit Golf Tournament to a host forum on tri-party coordination to a multimodal tour of the DFW Metroplex, including urban rail and commuter/regional rail. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn and network!


Current legislation calls for a 2015 implementation of positive train control for both passenger trains and those carrying hazardous materials.  With the extensive technology and cost issues involved, the railroad industry is asking Congressional lawmakers to extend this deadline date.
Sometimes lightning strikes! Forty eight employees of SEPTA, some of whom had been buying lottery tickets together for years, will now share the $172.7 million in lottery winnings.  Read all about it! 
There seems to be a streetcar revival going on, with at least 40 communities across America either actively using or planning to make a return to streetcars.

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