Read on for some updates on Transportation for Vermonters priorities that advanced in the 2019-2020 legislative session.
Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA)
The Global Warming Solutions Act, to which T4VT lent its support, passed the Senate on June 26th on a 23-5 vote.
Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI)
States will not sign onto Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) MOUs till after the November elections. While this represents a delay, the process is on track overall. They are still anticipating a launch of the program in early 2022. COVID-19 impacted the modeling, and has also been understandably taking a lot of decision makers’ time.
The Transportation Bill, H.942 (the “T-Bill”), passed the Legislature last week. It was signed into law by Governor Phil Scott on June 30th.
The scaled-down version of this legislation includes a few important provisions. First, if there is excess money from the federal government, the Agency of Transportation has to consider funding projects consistent with the goals of the comprehensive energy plan (waterfall spending). That language is highly flexible but basically establishes that the goal of public transit and vehicle electrification are still priorities. In addition, the bill:
- Redefines the EV incentive program
- Funds an additional $500,000 for public transit, specifically to spend money on the recommendations of the Study to Increase Transit Ridership.
- Encourages the continuation of fare-free transit while possible with federal coronavirus funds.
- In the capital bill, they are investing $750,000 for EV charging facilities.
- In the Appropriations bill, there is $100k of transportation dollars redirected to the Downtown Development program
The Senate amended the bill to:
- Include $100k for the bike-ped grant program (A 1:1 local match is required, so in practice, it’s $200k for bike and pedestrian programs)
- Designate $500k for small scale grants up to $100,000 to support transportation demand management or micro-transit programs.
- Redirect any un-used Transportation Maintenance Dollars to the electric vehicle incentive program. (Senator Pro Tem Ashe tried to add $250k to the program)
- Appropriate $50k to manage the low-income fuel efficiency vehicle program.
Outside the T-Bill, there was not ultimately success in establishing the Better Places program – mostly due to a misunderstanding of what it would accomplish. T4VT aims to revisit this in August, and hopefully lend our support.