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Thursday
Apr202017

Colorado lawmakers’ grand bargain on transportation appears doomed

The Denver Post

April 20, 2017

The Colorado legislative session’s top priority, a major transportation bill that seeks a tax hike to improve and expand highways, is unlikely to win approval this term.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Cañon City Republican and one of the prime sponsors, announced Thursday morning that he does not have the votes to move it through the GOP-led chamber.

“At this point, we can’t count to three,” he said, describing the number of votes he needs to advance it through the Senate Finance Committee next week.

The bill sponsors continue to work to secure support, but Grantham did not express optimism that the vote total would shift. House Bill 1242 won approval in the Democratic-led House earlier this year but faced tougher obstacles in the Senate because it would ask voters for a 0.5 percent sales tax hike to generate money for a $3.5 billion bond package for roads.

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Thursday
Apr132017

Colorado Senate president trims proposed transportation tax hike as it advances

Denver Business Journal

April 13, 2017

Seeking the support of enough Republicans in the Colorado state Senate to push through a transportation tax-hike proposal, Senate President Kevin Granthammade several major changes to the bill during a committee hearing Tuesday, including the reduction of the proposed tax increase from 0.62 cents to 0.5.

Grantham, R-Cañon City, also committed $100 million per year from the state’s general fund to a new 20-year stream of revenue that would be used to cover roughly $3.5 billion a year in highway expansion projects, as well as generating additional funding for local roads and creating a new multi-billion-dollar multi-modal transportation grant fund.

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Tuesday
Apr112017

Cities want to believe in the hyperloop because US infrastructure is so bad

The Verge

April 11, 2017

Shailen Bhatt, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Transportation, has high hopes for the hyperloop. He would like to see one cutting right through the middle of the Rocky Mountain State, connecting half a dozen cities, reducing travel time from hours to mere minutes, and bolstering Colorado’s image as a high-tech destination.

“Freight rail moves freight, high-speed rail moves passengers,” Bhatt said, “Hyperloop has the potential to do both.”

Never mind the fact that no human or freight has ever traveled by hyperloop for the simple reason that there are no hyperloops anywhere in the world. Despite the millions of dollars committed by hopeful investors, the technology has yet to be tested in any meaningful way. LA-based startup Hyperloop One says it just finished its half-kilometer-long test track in the desert north of Las Vegas, and in a few months it will conduct its first full-system test. But as of now, the hyperloop only exists in the spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations of Hyperloop One’s marketing team.

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Tuesday
Apr112017

Why Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan could wind up in a ditch

Politico

April 11, 2017

President Donald Trump is counting on his $1 trillion infrastructure proposal to produce the kind of bipartisan legislative victory that has eluded him on health care and pretty much everything else.

Instead, he’s running into familiar roadblocks: suspicious Democrats, a divided GOP and questions about the math.

Trump’s plan, expected to be released as early as May, has already faced months of skepticism from some conservative deficit hawks — even though it’s likely to call for far less direct federal spending than its eye-popping price tag implies. Meanwhile, Democrats are crying foul at suggestions that the blueprint will include hefty tax breaks for private investors and a shredding of permit requirements.

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Tuesday
Apr112017

NAFTA has staying power, especially if Texas supporters keep speaking out 

The Dallas Morning News

April 11, 2017

Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez, Mexico Ambassador to U.S.In one of his first acts in Washington, President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade deal involving a dozen countries.

Unwinding the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada would be much tougher, even if Trump wants to go there.

That’s no accident. Before NAFTA took effect 23 years ago, Mexico was angling for more than easy access to U.S. consumers, which is usually the primary goal for a developing country.

Mexico wanted an accord that would also benefit the U.S. and Canada, and strengthen economic ties among all three countries. Such multi-sided trade deals are more stable and durable, and that’s helpful when there’s a change in popular opinion -- or elected leaders.

NAFTA has created impressive growth in trade and jobs, especially for Texas. But it’s also spawned large networks of suppliers and manufacturers whose goods often criss-cross the border before final assembly.

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Wednesday
Mar292017

Optimism rising for infrastructure deal

The Hill

March 29, 2017

President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan is grabbing some of the spotlight in Washington after Republicans’ bruising defeat on healthcare.

The rebuilding package was expected to sit on the sidelines until the fall, but lawmakers on Capitol Hill think that timeline could be accelerated with more room on the legislative agenda and an administration eager to score a victory.

“This just leapfrogged,” Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), who was on Trump’s transition team, told The Hill. “This is something the president has wanted to do. But with healthcare pushed to the back burner, I believe that it’s infrastructure that gains steam.”

“It moves everything up if you take [healthcare] out,” said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee’s subcommittee on transportation and infrastructure.

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Tuesday
Mar282017

Scoop: Trump wants to do tax reform and infrastructure at the same time

Axios

March 28, 2017

The Trump administration is looking at driving tax reform and infrastructure concurrently, according to a White House source with direct knowledge.

It's a major strategic shift - infrastructure was likely going to be parked until next year - and is only possible because of last week's healthcare debacle.

President Trump feels burned by the ultra conservative House Freedom Caucus and is ready to deal with Democrats. Dangling infrastructure spending is an obvious way to buy the support of potentially dozens of Dems, meaning he wouldn't have to bargain with the hardliners.

Bill Shuster, the guy who would steer Trump's infrastructure package through the House, tells me he's optimistic Trump could get it done this year.

"It certainly changes the calculus of the timing with the defeat of healthcare," says Shuster, the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, in an interview in his Capitol Hill office Monday.

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Friday
Mar242017

Trump team issues permit for long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline

Omaha World-Herald

March 24, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration issued a permit Friday to build the Keystone XL pipeline, reversing the conclusion of the Obama administration and clearing the way for the $8 billion project to finally be completed.

The decision caps a years-long fight between environmental groups and energy industry advocates over the pipeline’s fate that became a proxy battle over global warming. It marks one of the biggest steps taken to date by the Trump administration to prioritize economic development over environmental concerns.

The 1,700-mile pipeline, as envisioned, would carry oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

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