FRA Issue Update - 4/26/19

Safe Routes Act

The FRA federal advocacy team conducted multiple meetings this week in the House to try to recruit a Democrat co-sponsor of the Safe Routes Act. As you know, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) is the lead Republican for the bill and hopes to introduce the legislation in the coming weeks. FRA, alongside the American Loggers Council, is working to recruit Democrat support for the bill so that the legislation may be rolled out in a bipartisan fashion. Over the last six weeks, we have had many positive meetings with Democrat members of Congress on the issue. A common refrain from many staff is that the bill appears to be reasonable, but they want to check-in with their state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to make sure that state DOT officials are on board with the measure. Rep. Gallagher’s staff took the same approach and the Wisconsin DOT has endorsed the bill unconditionally. 

Members of Congress return from a two-week recess next week, so we are hopeful that staff will have time with Members to brief them on the bill and secure their commitment to co-sponsor.  

H-2B Visas

On March 29 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would release an additional 30,000 H-2B visas for the remainder of the Fiscal Year 2019. FRA signed on to a letter prepared by the H-2B Coalition that was sent to President Trump to encourage him to begin the process of releasing the additional 30,000 H-2B visas as assured by former DHS Secretary Nielson. On April 22, the final H-2B Rule was sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget. This is the last step in the rulemaking process before the rule is published in the Federal Register.  

WOTUS Proposed Changes

FRA supported a letter prepared by the Forest Industry Associations Council in regards to the EPA’s Proposed Rule to revise the definition of  Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS). Overall, the FIAC comments supported the Proposed Rule with recommendations that would clarify certain terms and methodologies to provide regulatory certainty and predictability of the WOTUS regulations. The letter can be found here.