Are we there yet? It seems like 2020 has lasted a decade and we are still in the first half. On a positive note, golf resumes this week with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas and other sports will be resuming soon. Let's hope the second half of this year feels much more normal than the first half. If you're like me, you're tired of hearing about "the new normal"- here's hoping for "normal, normal" before too long.
Senate GOP to Governor- "Hurry Up!"
On Wednesday, the entire Senate Republican Caucus wrote a letter to Governor Pritzker asking him to move the state into Phase IV of his reopening plan starting today. Under the governor's guidelines, the quickest Illinois could enter Phase IV is June 26th.
Illinois remains one of the strictest states in the nation. All of our neighboring states are furthing along in reopening. Wisconsin has been open for weeks, after their supreme court overruled their Governor's orders as unconstitutional, and data there shows a flattening of cases.
Missouri is almost totally open, and the now infamous Lake of the Ozarks party led to exactly one new infection. The trends show Illinois can move to the next phase.
Transportation Funding Bill Introduced in Congress
Meanwhile in D.C., House Democrats introduced a surface transportation bill, the Invest in America Act. The bill would provide for $494 billion over a five year period. This would be a substantial increase over current funding levels. Per the US Chamber, some of the highlights:
Some of the investment highlights include:
- $319 billion for the Federal-aid highway program under the Federal Highway Administration.
- $105 billion for transit programs under the Federal Transit Administration
- $4.6 billion for highway safety programs under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- $5.3 billion for motor carrier safety programs under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
- $60 billion for passenger rail programs under the Federal Railroad Administration plus Amtrak
The bill would also allow for FY 2021 highway, transit, and safety funds to be made available at a 100 percent federal share to help offset funding losses due to the pandemic.
Virtual markup on this bill will occur on Tuesday.
President Trump Signs Order to Accelerate Infrastructure Projects
President Trump signed an Executive Order that waives requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other environmental laws in an effort to expedite construction of important infrastructure projects throughout the country. Notably, Section 4 of the Executive Order, titled "Expediting the Delivery of Civil Works Projects Within the Purview of the Army Corps of Engineers," requires the Corps of Engineers to use all of its emergency authorities to expedite work on, and completion of, all authorized and appropriated Civil Works projects. Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James is required to issue a summary of all projects that have been expedited within 30 days.
The President stated, "From the beginning of my Administration, I have focused on reforming and streamlining an outdated regulatory system that has held back our economy with needless paperwork and costly regulations. antiquated regulations and bureaucratic practices have hindered American infrastructure investments, kept America's building trades workers from working, and prevented our citizens from developing and enjoying the benefits of world-class infrastructure."