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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Bills seek to repeal railroads' fuel tax, more closely govern future mergers


In late March, Congressman Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., introduced to the House H.R. 1024, the Transportation Tax Equity and Fairness Act, which was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
H.R. 1024 represents yet another railroad industry attempt to repeal the 4.3-cent diesel fuel tax.
A similar bill last year passed Congress as part of a tax cut package, but was vetoed by President Clinton.
President George W. Bush previously announced plans to first move legislation through Congress aimed at cutting an individual’s taxes, and then concentrate on business tax-cut legislation, such as H.R. 1024.
Meanwhile, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) plans to develop a bill designed to pool railroads’ 4.3-cent fuel taxes as a way to fund small-road infrastructure improvements.
"It could generate $10 million for the coffers of short lines and regionals," says ASLRRA President Frank Turner. "We’re kicking it around, and will wait and see where it falls out with the tax bill."
Also in late March, Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., introduced to the Senate S. 526, a bill designed to subject future railroad mergers to U.S. antitrust law review, giving both Surface Transportation Board and U.S. Department of Justice jurisdiction over proposed rail combinations.
The bill also would eliminate antitrust immunity for rail-rate and pooling agreements.
Meanwhile, Representative Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., introduced to the House H.R. 999, which is similar in scope to S. 526.
Jeff Stagl