“Before we draft any legislation these meetings will provide the Committee with valuable insight and information.”
— Rep. John Mica, Chair, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — a key body that sets the transportation agenda on Capitol Hill — has announced a series of “field hearings” on changes that could be in store for America’s surface transportation legislation. The closest location to Portland on the list is Vancouver, Washington. A field hearing has been scheduled to happen in Vancouver on February 21st.
The hearings were announced yesterday by Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who is now chair of the House T & I Committee after elections in November ousted former chair James Oberstar. According to the official announcement from the Committee, the public hearing events will “help inform the Committee’s drafting of a long-term reauthorization of the nation’s highway, transit, and highway safety programs.”
This hearing will be a golden opportunity for our region to weigh in on national transportation priorities.
In a statement, Rep. Mica added this,
“The best ideas to improve and streamline government programs often come from outside of Washington, and before we draft any legislation these meetings will provide the Committee with valuable insight and information.”
Because this committee is now controlled by Republicans, the field hearings are being held in districts its Republican members represent. Vancouver is home to House T & I Committee member, Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler.
With Oberstar no longer chairman, it’s likely we can no longer count on this powerful committee to take bicycles seriously. Judging from the tone from Republicans so far, if bikeways are to be considered for significant federal investment, Rep. Mica and other committee members will need to hear loud and clear support for them.
Final details of the event (time and place) have yet to be determined, but Herrera’s office confirmed the 2/21 date today. I’ll update this story and will share final details via Twitter once they’re announced. For more on the national transportation landscape, follow Streetsblog Capitol Hill.
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If it is truely in Vancouver vs. Camas (etc.) then it likely will be at WS DOT HQ…though a better facility would be at the Clark County Commissioner’s hearing room.
It is to congratulate their constituates for so many years resisting the anti-american/anti-car agenda of the People’s Republic of Portland.
“The best ideas to improve and streamline government programs often come from outside of Washington…” Okay, I get what he’s saying, but this is still a funny statement considering where they’re holding the meeting.
It would be beyond awesome to organize a ride of every commuting cyclist in the area to the meeting. Who knows, maybe seeing thousands of normal looking people on bikes might get the point across.
They’re Republicans. Does anyone seriously think that anything remotely progressive will come of this?
If you don’t drive a single-occupant SUV to the grocery store, you’re not American as far as they’re concerned.
And no I’m not being cynical, just realistic.
It’s time for government to look at ways to save money not just spend it.
Maybe they could encourage people to use the alternatives to studded tires in the states that haven’t banned them, yet.
looking forward to getting the time/date
I’m not sure if I’m going to this. Probably not. I would expect to hear from anti-bicycle-they-don’t-pay-their-way-through-fuel-taxes people. I would not be surprised to hear some of that rhetoric coming from the Republicans on the committee. I would only be a little bit surprised to hear that from Democrats on the committee. If you do go, I suggest being prepared to politely respond to that. The League of American Bicyclists has a page with talking points at http://www.bikeleague.org/action/trashtalk/payyourway.php
I would hope a lot of die hard cyclists come down from Seattle as well. Planning a road trip for the occasion. Might be nice to have a critical mass type turnout.