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This year's Railroad Day on Capitol Hill — held last week in Washington, D.C. — attracted a record attendance of nearly 700 rail industry representatives, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) announced yesterday.ASLRRA hosted the event, which is held annually to offer rail industry representatives a chance to meet with members of Congress and their staffs to discuss legislative issues of interest to their companies and associations.This year, rail trade groups' members met at 330 congressional offices to discuss rail industry regulation and their opposition to proposals to increase truck size and weight. They also called on lawmakers to co-sponsor the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy Act (H.R. 721). Known as the BRACE Act, the bill would would amend Section 45G by removing the sunset provision, making the tax credit permanent or at least extending it for a minimum of 10 years. "Because of your participation, our BRACE Act co-sponsor numbers continue to climb, with six added just last week," ASLRRA President Linda Bauer Darr said yesterday in a letter to the association's members.Railroad Day on Capitol Hill is co-sponsored by several industry trade groups, including the National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC). More than 100 people from 60 NRC member companies met with lawmakers and congressional staff to discuss their legislative concerns, group officials said in a press release."Our over 425 member companies are concerned about potential increases in federal truck size and weight limits which, if enacted, would not only raise costs to state and local transportation agencies, but would also essentially act as an additional tax to the our nation's taxpaying citizens," said NRC Vice President Matt Bell.NRC members also asked congressional representatives to pass the BRACE Act and to oppose legislation or regulations "that would adversely impact the economic regulatory balance currently established under existing federal law," said Bell. Meanwhile, ASLRRA Senior Vice President Jo Strang is scheduled to testify today before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on transportation infrastructure. Tomorrow, ASLRRA Chair Judy Petry is scheduled to testify before the House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee on the subject of "Post-Tax Reform Evaluation of Recently Expired Tax Provisions."Strang will speak at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security. The panel's topic is "Rebuilding Infrastructure in America: State and Local Transportation Needs."Strang's testimony will "speak to the short lines' need for access to funding commensurate with their small-business size and capabilities and availability to rural communities," said Bauer Darr in a prepared statement. "In addition, small railroads must be able to access funding directly, without requiring the partnership of local government entities."At tomorrow's hearing, Petry will present ASLRRA's message that the 45G tax credit is a "critical tool that allows short lines to invest in upgrading rail and bridges connecting the rural, industrial and agricultural heartland to the rail freight network."
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