Tim Young Meets with Legislators in Washington DC
Wyoming Pathways Executive Director, Tim Young, had a successful mid November trip to Washington, DC for a meeting with Senator Barrasso and meetings with his legislative staff on transportation and natural resources issues. Tim was also able to visit Senator Enzi’s office, and meet with the League of American Bicyclists and several of Wyoming Pathways’ national partner groups.
Senator Barrasso was appointed to the Transportation bill Conference Committee, which is currently working to resolve the House and Senate transportation bills. The final conference bill would reauthorize a range of federal transportation funding programs that are critical to Wyoming communities and residents. One that is important to biking and walking in Wyoming is the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). Having the opportunity to visit with Senator Barrasso at this time was a great opportunity for Tim to provide constructive input. He stressed that Wyoming Pathways supports the Senate version of the bill (Drive Act), and is pleased the TAP program is being continued and increased slightly in funding. The Senate bill has $850 million/year, and the House has $810 million.
The TAP is widely popular with Wyoming communities, providing one of the only sources of federal funding for building pathways. One request was to consider making TAP a percentage of core programs. The current versions of both bills has fixed funding for TAP, causing concern that the purchasing power would decline over the 6-year duration of the legislation. Because the other programs will rise gradually over the life of the bill, changing it to a percentage that increases proportionately along with core programs would be helpful for TAP (as well as the Recreational Trails Program, which is included in TAP).
Tim also spoke in support of a new transportation section in the Senate bill called “Nationally Significant Federal Lands Projects.” Senator Barrasso’s staff confirmed this could be a way for Yellowstone to rebuild some of its aging roads, including adding shoulders to improve bicycle safety.
Tim was also able to discuss the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and communicate that Wyoming Pathways supports reauthorizing the program. There are a number of bills proposed in Congress to address the lapse in the LWCF program that started the end of September when the previous authorization ran out. Congress must act to restart the important federal and state grant program. Senator Barrasso also has introduced a bill to do that would reauthorize the LWCF for 10 years, and his bill would set the stateside funding at 60%. There is a similar bill in the House, the PARC Act, that would reauthorize the LWCF for seven years, and would dedicate not less than 45% to stateside activities. The House bill would also allow some LWCF funding to go to maintenance, including trails, which is an important new option.