News from Representative Tom Emmer

Dear Friend,

Last week, President Trump released an infrastructure plan to rebuild America. While the plan includes long overdue provisions like streamlining the permitting process for new projects and prioritizes rural areas, in my view, this plan is not good enough for Minnesota or this nation. 

To be clear, I am pleased to see this President take on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. And there are some positive provisions in the plan which I fully support.

I agree with the President’s idea that we should give more control to local and state authorities. Local folks know how to better handle the resources within their own communities than bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

The President also wants to streamline the permitting process and establish a one agency, one decision structure for environmental reviews. That’s a great idea and one we’ve been talking about in Minnesota for a decade. 

But there are too many shortcomings in the plan for me to support it in full. Adding tolls to interstates is not the answer for where and how to get funding, however the current plan gives states the ability to toll existing Interstates like I-94 and I-35. It also includes possible increases in light rail funding, which is an unnecessary investment when our roads and bridges are in need of dire repair.

In addition, in the plan’s current form, there is not enough focus on interchanges, which is an issue I’ve been working to address since I came to Congress.

Last May, I re-introduced my National Interchange/Intersection Safety Construction Program (NIISCP) Act, which prioritizes funding for intersections and interchanges, improves safety, and increases local control over federal transportation dollars. This legislation does not increase spending or require additional appropriations. Instead, a portion of annual existing federal highway funds would be targeted for local entities to apply and compete. Learn more here.

Lastly, the plan takes a look at rural America and what the government can do to help close the gap between rural and urban communities. One thing is certain: rural America needs broadband. While the plan does include expanding broadband, it does so in a limited way. We need to stimulate public/private partnerships to ensure that every American has access to reliable internet services.

What do you think of the President’s plan?

Read it for yourself here and then let me know what you think by writing to me here.


ICYMI: Tom’s Top 5 Takeaway Quotes

Last Friday, I caught up with Andrew Lee and Jon Justice on "Justice and Drew", Twin Cities News Talk to discuss the President’s infrastructure plan and what it means for Minnesota. Listen to the full interview here.

1.       “If you tell me you’re going to partner with the state and local governments well then you’ve got to start leaving more of our money in our state. You’ve got to quit taking, making us a net giver where we get back 72 cents roughly on every dollar.” Listen here.

2.       On the National Interchange Intersection Safety Construction Program: Here’s the thing, there’s nothing in there specifically for interchanges… since I’ve been here we have proposed the National Interchange Intersection Safety Construction Program which would allow additional dollars to be made available on applications from states and local authorities to try and improve existing interchanges and intersections. And, I’ll give you a great example for people that are in the Sixth Congressional District. If you drive up and down Highway 10, you’ve got a rail line that runs essentially parallel to Highway 10 all the way to St. Cloud and you’ve got all these intersections that have that rail line almost right there that pose a real danger at times. We just had with the state, a program or a project that was completed, I think a year or two ago, Armstrong Boulevard, to try to solve one of those intersections. This is a big deal.” Listen here.

3.       On the one agency, one decision rule: “There are some good things, I’m giving it a hard time, but they want to streamline the permitting process, they want to establish a one agency, one decision structure for the environmental reviews, that’s a great idea! I mean it’s something we’ve been talking about in Minnesota for a decade. One window shopping, you should not have to go to 5 different agencies of government and try to get through their red tape to get these things done, they want to shorten what is today the lengthy environmental review process, they want to shorten that down to 24 months, and make sure the government has to get these programs through.” Listen here. 

4.       “We should give more to local authorities who I would suggest know better how to handle the resources within their own communities than some faceless bureaucrat in Washington D.C.” Listen here.

5.       You know what rural America needs? Broadband! Rural America needs broadband and that is in this bill, which is good but you need to stimulate that public/private partnership.” Listen here.

CLICK HERE to listen to the full interview. 

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