Hoeven, Senators, Western Governors Meet to Move 6-Year Highway Bill; Bill Includes More Than $1.6 Billion for ND

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven and Senate colleagues today met with a group of four western governors to advance a six-year federal highway bill. The governors were on Capitol Hill to meet with members of the Commerce and Appropriations committees to develop a strategy for passing a long-term transportation bill that will give states the certainty they need to begin large infrastructure projects.

The Senate passed a new six-year highway bill in July that will provide North Dakota with more than $1.6 billion. The formula is favorable to North Dakota and increases highway funding for the state to $270 million, about $30 million a year more than it currently receives.

“A strong, long-term highway bill is important not only for the western states, but for the entire country,” Hoeven said. “The fact that five western governors would make the trip to meet with us underscores the importance of this bill to their states’ economies. The current transportation bill will enable important infrastructure projects to move forward, which will create jobs, grow our economy and improve safety.”

Governors Jack Dalrymple (R-N.D.), Steve Bullock (D-Mont.), Dennis Daugaard (R-S.D.) and Matt Mead (R-Wyo.) were in Washington with the Western Governors’ Association to meet with lawmakers on critical issues to their states.

The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act reauthorizes the nation’s transportation programs for six years. The six-year Senate bill provides $350 billion in contract authority for the 2015-2021 period. The measure makes up for a lack of highway trust fund revenues by adding about $45 billion in offsets. The bill does not increase the deficit or increase taxes. 

DRIVE Act Highlights for North Dakota:

  • Increases Transportation Funding for North Dakota by maintaining the federal aid highway formula structure and increasing the amount each state will receive every year:
    • North Dakota will receive an average of $270 million a year in highway formula funding over six years, an average of $30 million more than the state receives today.
    • Makes completing transportation projects easier by making National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) reforms, cutting red tape.
    • Provides six years of increased funding, giving state and local governments the certainty and stability they need to improve and develop our nation’s transportation infrastructure.
  • Increases Transit Funding to North Dakota by approximately $1 million a year, increasing from more than $14 million in the first year to more than $17 million by the sixth year. Overall, the bill increases public transportation funding nearly $1.5 billion over MAP-21 levels.
  • Improves Safety:  The bill’s safety and regulatory title makes important enhancements for safer highways as well as freight and passenger rail service through effective implementation of new technologies, new tools for federal safety watchdog agencies, reforming grant programs for states and transparency that promotes accountability.
  • Includes a New National Freight Strategy and Strategic Plan to improve freight transportation networks that serve agriculture, retail, manufacturing and energy sectors.
  • Includes the Federal Permitting Improvement Act to improve the permitting process for major capital (more than $200 million in investment) projects across sectors, including energy.
  • Assistance for Major Projects (AMP) Program to provide grants for large projects of national or regional significance and includes at least a 20 percent set aside for rural areas.

Driver Privacy Act

Hoeven’s Driver Privacy Act also passed as part of the Senate’s six-year highway bill. The legislation establishes in law that the owner of a vehicle is also the owner of any information collected by an Event Data Recorder (EDR). Hoeven was joined on the legislation by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

An EDR is an onboard electronic device that has the ability to continuously collect at least 43 pieces of information about a vehicle’s operation. This includes direction, speed, seatbelt usage and other data. The senators’ legislation would ensure that the vehicle owner controls the data and their personal privacy is protected.