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E-M:/ Istea Update

Enviro-Mich message from Lucinda Means LMB Lansing <lmbike@voyager.net>

The latest on ISTEA:

        STPP Transfer 04/17/98
        18 Apr 1998 14:41:46 EST

April 17th, 1998
Surface Transportation Policy Project

House-Senate Conference Still Faces Major Differences

House and Senate conferees on the federal transportation bill return 
from a long Easter recess this week to settle many differences 
between their competing versions of legislation to reauthorize the 
1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA).  
While staff met several times during the break to resolve some of the 
smaller, less controversial issues, little progress was reported.  A 
300+ page side-by-side comparison of the two bills as compared 
with existing law was one of the few accomplishments, and 
members will now reportedly work off this document--including all 
relevant page numbers--rather than either HR2400 or S1173.

STPP and local coalition members are continuing to build support 
for many of the more progressive provisions in the two bills, with 
many citizen activists and local officials capitalizing on the 
Congressional recess to communicate the importance of the existing 
law to their members.  While both House and Senate bills preserve 
and in many ways strengthen ISTEA, several provisions in both 
versions have drawn criticism from many transportation reform 

The overall size of the legislation and its fiscal impacts continued to 
draw scrutiny throughout the recess period, with USDOT Secretary 
Rodney Slater reportedly voicing the administration's concerns 
about its effect on last year's balanced budget agreement, suggesting 
to state transportation officials that as much as $18B be cut from the 
final bill (BNA 4/16).  Yet the media also began reporting in more 
detail than they had in previous weeks on many of the more positive 
aspects of the legislation.  An editorial in Florida's Tampa Tribune 
(4/5) took the libertarian Heritage Foundation to task for its criticism 
of both the size of the bill and its increase in funding for mass 
transit.  Citing a recent rise in bus and rail ridership across the 
south, the paper strongly backed potential increases in transit 
funding for "smaller systems designed at the local level, not by 
federal decree."  In last week's Houston Chronicle (4/7), columnist 
Neal Peirce declared: "ISTEA's advances embody more 
transportation innovation--and potential for grass-roots input--than 
most media coverage has let us know."

Action alerts, detailed summaries of STPP positions on both bills, 
and a copy of the House-Senate conference committee side-by-side 
comparisons are all available at http://www.istea.org.


Lucinda J. Means
Executive Director
League of Michigan Bicyclists
P.O. Box 16201
Lansing, MI  48901-6201
Tel:  (517) 394-2453

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