The FAST Act, the first long-term funding bill for surface transportation in 10 years, was signed into law in December 2015. As this legislation is set to expire in 2020, viable proposals are needed to ensure a steady, predictable stream of funding for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). This was the main topic of discussion at the annual CIRI Fall Dinner Meeting on May 24. Held at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, the event attracted approximately 200 attendees from the CIRI membership. Featured speakers were:
ARTBA Vice President, Member Services
After recapping the trials and tribulations of federal highway funding since 2003, Allison Klein presented the CIRI assemblage with the BOLD Act: an original revenue proposal ARTBA is currently promoting via social media and lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. A central element of the proposal is a creation of a 6.25% excise tax — called the Highway Transportation Services Tax — on the cost of goods shipped domestically via Class 7 and Class 8 heavy trucks. This is modeled on the way air cargo has been taxed at the federal level since 1971.
According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting firm hired by ARTBA to formulate the shipments-based tax, it could generate an average of $38 billion in new revenue. Unlike traditional proposals to increase the federal gas tax, which have met with intense political opposition, shipment-based tax revenues would also be poised to grow with the economy.
“With the BOLD Act, our conversations in Washington about the HTF revenue formula and a potential solution have been much more constructive that in the past,” Klein said. “Combined with the commitment of GOP leaders to tax reform, this really does provide us with an unprecedented opportunity.”
OSHA Assistant Area Director
Representing the OSHA Region 1 office in Providence, which covers all of New England, Michael Gross first educated the dinner meeting attendees on the makeup of the office and its personnel. The staff of 12 includes 5 compliance officers who conduct about 270 inspections during a typical year.
“Our compliance assistance specialist, Ed Conway, is strictly there to help people comply with OSHA regulations,” Gross said, “with no enforcement duties whatsoever. Don’t hesitate to call the Region 1 office anytime you have a question about safety or health.”
Gross then spoke about two new OSHA standards on the horizon. The first was the silica exposure rule that recently went into effect on September 23. The second was the new requirement, as of the start of 2017, for companies with 250 or more employees to file their Form 300A electronically.
Before a closing Q&A session, Gross outlined key compliance factors in regard to trenching and excavation work — along with additional tips for vehicular safety, effective work zone setup, and proper usage of barricades and cones.