President's Message: Kelly Doyle, P.E.
I’ve been involved with ASCE for over ten years now, and the one facet I’ve never had experience with is legislative affairs. Last week, ASCE held their annual Legislative Fly-In and I attended for the first time. As someone who isn’t generally very political, I was very impressed and energized by the whole experience.
The two-day meeting consists of ASCE representatives from all 50 states, including ASCE leadership, general members, and younger members. The program educates the attendees about specific topics most important to ASCE and then organizes meetings with state legislators to discuss the importance of these topics.
This year, the main issues focus was on supporting infrastructure and fixing the Highway Trust Fund. ASCE would like to see a long-term sustainable solution to fund infrastructure maintenance and new construction, rather than the continual short-term extensions and patches added to old legislation. In addition, ASCE’s formal stance on funding infrastructure is raising the gas tax. This would be a five cent per gallon per year increase over the next three years (a total of 15 cents per gallon). On average, this would translate to about $150 per year for an average driver (or $12.50 per month). Though this can’t be viewed as a long-term solution for funding (because of things like increased use of electric vehicles, public transit, and bicycle use), it’s the best current option available to manage our infrastructure needs. If you would like to read more information about these issues, you can find it here: http://www.asce.org/legislative_fly-in/
Last week, seven representatives from Nevada attended the Fly-In, and we visited the offices of six different legislative representatives. The feedback we received is that there is bi-partisan support to create a long-term (i.e. 5-6 year) bill to fund infrastructure. The support for the gas tax, on the other hand, was less favored, but still well-received. We will certainly watch how all of this proceeds through Congress over the next year.
As someone who hasn’t been involved in this process in the past, I would like to say that this was one of the most exciting and interesting things I’ve been able to do with ASCE so far. As engineers we have a social obligation to inform the public about the state of our infrastructure and ensure that it’s safe for all users. I encourage everyone to become involved with legislative affairs at some point to gain new perspective of how we can positively influence out nation.
Kelly Doyle, P.E.
President, ASCE Truckee Meadows Branch