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S. 496: A bill to repeal the rule issued by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration entitled “Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area Reform”.

Apr 27, 2017 at 2:17 p.m. ET. On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass in the House.

This was a vote to pass S. 496 (115th) in the House. This vote was taken under a House procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority. A failed vote under suspension can be taken again.

S. 496 repeals the Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area Reform rule. On December 20, 2016, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued the final rule ‘‘Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area Reform’’ (81 Fed. Reg. 93448). This rule significantly alters transportation planning regulations, in an attempt to promote more effective regional planning by States and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). Among other changes, the rule requires MPOs in the same urbanized area to merge, adjust their boundaries, or produce a single, unified set of plans to guide transportation investments. The final rule includes a waiver process, subject to approval by the Secretary, from some of the joint planning requirements if an area can demonstrate suitable coordination.

The rule exceeds the planning requirements set forth in statute. Section 134 of title 23 and section 5303 of title 49, United States Code, establish MPOs and describe their responsibilities in the transportation planning process. These sections require MPOs to prepare long-range plans and Transportation Improvement Plans (TIPs) and outline how MPOs should work with other entities, such as state departments of transportation, as they develop these plans. These sections also require the Secretary of Transportation to encourage each Governor of a state with a portion of a multistate metropolitan area and the appropriate MPOs to provide coordinated transportation planning for the entire metropolitan area. However, these sections of law do not mandate that MPOs within the same urbanized area produce a single TIP, or long-range plan.

MPOs and state transportation officials have expressed concerns with the rule’s requirement that force MPOs to merge, adjust boundaries, or consolidate planning documents. Urbanized areas can span several states and hundreds or thousands of square miles. By forcing MPOs to merge or consolidate TIPs, the rule takes local transportation investment decisions out of the hands of local authorities. The rule also stands to drive up administrative costs and burdens on MPOs. FHWA and FTA estimate that the rule could require more than 140 MPOs to merge. If those MPOs all merged, FHWA and FTA estimate the costs associated with merging, including developing dispute resolution processes and making transportation conformity adjustments under the Clean Air Act, could exceed $340 million over four years.

Source: Republican Policy Committee

Totals

All Votes R D
Yea 99%
 
 
417
229
 
188
 
Nay 1%
 
 
3
0
 
3
 
Not Voting
 
 
10
8
 
2
 

Passed. 2/3 Required. Source: house.gov.

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