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House adopts Highway Bill amendments that benefit industry

The U.S. House of Representatives adopted amendments to the federal Highway Bill that include good news for on- and off-highway motorcyclists, the American Motorcyclist Association announced.

The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 approved in November by a vote of 363 to 64 provides $325 billion over six years.

“We sifted through more than 100 amendments to this bill, identified those favorable to AMA members and threw our support behind them,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. “At the same time, we staunchly opposed proposed amendments, such as those that would have eliminated the Recreational Trails Program.”

Amendments and other provisions passed by the House and supported by the AMA include:

  • Continued funding for the Recreational Trails Program, which provides funding to states for maintaining, improving and expanding off-highway recreational opportunities;
  • A prohibition against using federal funds for motorcycle-only checkpoints;
  • Reestablishing a Motorcycle Advisory Council to coordinate with and counsel the U.S. Department of Transportation administrator on infrastructure concerns of particular interest to motorcyclists;
  • Authorization for a study to be performed by the National Academies of Science on ways to prevent crashes; and
  • Funding of highway safety grants that include programs to reduce distracted driving, including language that makes it easier for states to successfully qualify for and receive the money.

“We also are pleased that the House decided not to expand the number of states eligible to impose new tolls on our highways under the Interstate System Reconstruction & Rehabilitation Pilot Program,” Allard said.

The AMA also supported a provision that would have banned the U.S. DOT from lobbying local, state or federal governments about policy issues. The House Rules Committee removed that amendment from consideration. However, the AMA hopes to get the language restored as the bill moves forward.

The Highway Bill went on to conference committee, where differences between the Senate and House versions were to be worked out.

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