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2016 Ohio Federal Legislative Update

 Federal Advocacy Report for Ohio

September 30, 2016

Updated October 6, 2016

Note: Any item stated in italics was added to this report after the 2016 ASCE Ohio Council Fall meeting held in Akron, Ohio.

Last year around this time I gave a report to the sections on the federal activity happening that may be of interest to our members.  As an ASCE Federal Advocacy Captain I have been involved in many discussions with some of Ohio’s elected officials.  I participate regularly on conference calls with ASCE staff and other FAC’s.  The following is a brief report that was shared at the last Ohio Council meeting with some additional information.  With the election just a month away, some members might be interested in how their elected officials have voted on ASCE legislative initiatives.

2016 has been an extremely busy and successful year for legislation that affects our membership.  Two important authorizations have passed, or will pass, in the past 12 months (FAST Act at the end of 2015 and WRDA in the past few weeks).  This is incredible particularly for an election year.  Ohio can be proud of the work its legislators have done in sponsoring, co-sponsoring or supporting these issues.

Last fall I had listed all the committees that ASCE believes are important committees related to our legislative initiatives.  Since there is a possibility that there will most likely be changes to committee assignments, and even who represents us, I will put out an update in early 2017 once the new congress takes effect as there is a possibility that the Senate majority could change as well as the political party of the President. 

FAST Act (5 year surface transportation authorization Fixing America’s Surface Transportation)

-          Last fall, congress went to conference on this legislation.  Rep Gibbs and Sen. Brown were conference committee members.

-          Became law on 12/4/15

-          Passed the Senate 83-16 (Both Portman and Brown voted “yea”)

-          Passed the House 359-65

o   Voting “yea” from Ohio : Chabot (OH-1), Beatty(OH-3), Latta(OH-5), Johnson(OH-6), Gibbs(OH-7), Davidson (OH-8), Kaptur (OH-9), Turner (OH-10), Fudge (OH-11), Tiberi (OH-12), Ryan (OH-13), Joyce (OH-14), Stivers (OH-15)

o   Voting “no” from Ohio: Wenstrup(OH-2), Jordan(OH-4), Renacci (OH-16)

o   OH-8 had no representation due to Speaker Boehner’s retirement

WRDA 16 (2 year authorization of Water Resource Development Act of 14)

-          In Spring of 2016, passed out of Senate committee on Environment and Public Works by a 19-1 vote

-          S. 2848, sponsored by Sen. Inhofe and Boxer, passed 95-3 on 9/15/16

o   Sen. Brown and Portman voted “yea”

-          H.R. 5303, co-sponsored by House T&I Water Resources and Environment Chairman Gibbs (OH-7) passed house by 399-25 on 9/28/16

o   Voting “yea” from Ohio: Chabot (OH-1), Wenstrup (OH-2), Beatty(OH-3), Latta(OH-5), Johnson(OH-6), Gibbs(OH-7), Davidson (OH-8), Kaptur (OH-9), Turner (OH-10), Fudge (OH-11), Tiberi (OH-12), Ryan (OH-13), Joyce (OH-14), Stivers (OH-15), Renacci (OH-16)

o   Voting “no” from Ohio: Jordan (OH-4)

When the Senate passed their bill, there was a reception by the Environment and Public Works committee to celebrate the accomplishment.  2 outside organizations were invited of which ASCE was one of them.

Both the House and Senate leadership hope to have a reconciled bill before the President after the election and before the end of the year.  If you have an opportunity it would be great if you could send a quick “thank you” to your elected officials for their support.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization

            H.R. 818 passed on July 11, 2016 (extension of current legislation through September 30, 2017 by voice vote. It was a bicameral agreement for the extension at current funding levels. S 636 passed by 89-4 vote on 7/13/16 (Sen. Portman and Brown voting “yea”) Signed into law on 7-15-16.  In the Senate, this legislation is out of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

ASCE will be pushing for a reauthorization in 2017.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2016 (H.R. 223)

Sponsored by Rep Joyce, co-sponsored by Kaptur, Ryan, Renacci, Fudge, Beatty, Johnson, Turner, Wenstrup and Stivers.

Gibbs made a motion to pass H.R. 223 on House floor.  Passed House by voice vote on 4-26-16.  Awaits Senate action.

Based on recent correspondence with ASCE National’s Whit Remer and a discussion as the recent 2016 Fall ASCE Ohio Council meeting, the GLRI 2016 has many components that were included in WRDA which is fantastic for Ohio.  According to Whit the Senate includes GLRI in their base text while the House added GLRI as an amendment.  In the final WRDA package the GLRI is authorized at $300m/year for 5 years.

ASCE upcoming items          

ASCE Legislative Fly-in (March)

The 2016 ASCE Legislative Fly-in was held in March in Washington D.C.  Over 250 members attended representing almost every state.  There were 3 members from Ohio (2 from Central Ohio and 1 from Cleveland) that attended the fly-in.  Aside from meeting with our elected officials to thank them for supporting the FAST Act, issues that we were advocating for were for an authorization of a new Water Resource Development Act 2016, water infrastructure appropriations (such as restoring the Clean Water State Revolving Fund(CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund(DWSRF) to 2009 levels) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization.

During the meetings, Senator Brown’s staff shared with us a letter that was co-signed by 40 other bi-partisan Senators asking for Senate leadership to provide legislation that includes robust funding for CWSRF and DWSRF.  At the April Ohio Council meeting, council agreed to draft a letter to Senator Brown supporting his stance on this issue.

Senator Portman’s staff shared with us a letter sent to the Army Corps of Engineers over his concern with issues related to dredging the Cuyahoga River.

It should also be noted that there was a recent article in in regards to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreeing to dredge the Cuyahoga River the fall.  Senator’s Portman and Brown wrote recently to the ACOE demanding an end to the Army Corps “irresponsible” decision to not dredge.  Here is a link to that article

2017 will be a big year for the March Legislative Fly-in in Washington D.C.  With the hope the WRDA will be law and there will be movement on an FAA bill, ASCE will also unveil its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card.  I highly encourage all Ohio Sections to send one representative to the fly-in.  In the past, Central Ohio and Cleveland attend regularly.  Dayton attended a few years ago.  All Ohio members visit Senate offices together and each individual will have a meeting with their elected Representative.  Most times others will attend if their schedules permit.  This is a fantastic event held by ASCE.  Ohio has many of the same people attend.

It would be great to have new faces as well.  The dates for the 2017 Fly-in are March 14th and 15th.  You would need to arrive generally by noon on March 14th.  Hill visits take place on March 15th and there is an evening reception that evening near the Capital.  You can fly back the morning of March 16th.  You must apply for the fly-in.  Applications will be available in late fall of 2016.  Here is a link the fly-in on the ASCE website .

2017 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card update

In March of 2017, ASCE will release the latest update to the infrastructure report card.  This will be a huge event and an important piece of information to share with all of our elected officials.  Most of the individuals I have met are aware of the ASCE report card and reference it many times in interviews and statements.  Again, it would be great to see more Ohio sections represented at the fly-in.


As always, I am always available to answer questions or put you in contact with the appropriate person at ASCE National regarding federal legislative issues. I can talk to you about the fly-in, writing a request or a thank you letter to your representative or senator or give direction on the best way to set up a district office meeting.  You can reach me at