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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
Railroad Day 2019: Hundreds of industry reps advocate for pro-rail legislation
Last week, hundreds of railroaders, contractors, suppliers and rail shippers visited 350 congressional offices to discuss political issues of concern to the industry during the annual Railroad Day on Capitol Hill.
Among the topics discussed with dozens of U.S. senators, congressmen and congressional staffers included an extension of the short-line tax credit; ratification of a new trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico; opposition to increases in truck size or length; the preservation of balanced economic regulation of the rail industry; and support for comprehensive infrastructure legislation.
Co-hosting this year's Railroad Day were the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), Association of American Railroads, National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC), Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association, Railway Supply Institute, Railway Systems Suppliers Inc. and the Railway Tie Association. More than 500 industry representatives visited Capitol Hill, according to the NRC.
In talks with lawmakers and staffers, rail industry association members called on Congress to pass the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy Act of 2019 (H.R. 510 and S. 203). Known as the BRACE Act, the legislation would make the Section 45G short-line tax credit permanent. The House and Senate bills are mostly identical to the BRACE Act that died in the last session of Congress.
As currently structured, the credit enables regionals and short lines to claim a 50-cent tax credit for each dollar they spend on track rehabilitation and maintenance projects, up to a cap of $3,500 per mile of owned or leased track. The tax credit has been extended numerous times since 2005, but has never been made permanent. It last expired at 2017's end.
ASLRRA officials have said that the legislation would help ensure the nation's 600 short lines can invest more of their money in infrastructure, which aids in keeping smaller and rural communities engaged in the U.S. economy.
Begun 20 years ago, Railroad Day has become one of the most organized and comprehensive days on Capitol Hill, according to the associations involved.
Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.