February 6, 2024
The Legislative Year Ahead for ITS Technologies
As Congress kicks off another year, ITS America is engaged in conversations to educate lawmakers about our priorities and tracking legislation of interest to ITS America members. On January 18th, Congress passed a continuing resolution extending government funding, including for the U.S. Department of Transportation until March 1. We expect another contentious round of discussion in the coming weeks as the Senate and House look to reconcile appropriations bills. If lawmakers cannot pass all spending bills by April 30, they will trigger a 1% cut in spending across all federal programs as agreed upon in last year’s debt ceiling deal. We will continue to monitor the transportation appropriations process and keep our members informed on our weekly Friday policy calls.
Senator Markey of Massachusetts reintroduced Complete Streets legislation in January, co-sponsored by Sen. Heinrich of New Mexico, Sen. Warnock of Georgia, and Sen. Blumenthal of Connecticut, along with Congressman Cohen of Tennessee in the House. The bill would allow eligible local and regional entities to use funds from their state’s Complete Streets Program for technical assistance and capital funding to build safe street projects such as sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, and bus stops. The legislation would also phase in a requirement for states to incorporate Complete Streets elements into all new construction and reconstruction projects.
Additionally, Senator Markey reintroduced the GREEN Streets Act, which would establish goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the national highway system and help states adapt their transportation systems to withstand the impacts of climate change. These bills will be referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Representative Greg Stanton (D-AZ) and Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) introduced the bipartisan Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Accessibility Act to help people with disabilities better access the mobility and independence benefits of ride-hail AVs. This bill will prohibit states from issuing motor vehicle operator’s license in a manner that prevents a qualified individual with an ADA disability from riding as a passenger in an ADS-equipped vehicle operating in fully autonomous mode (SAE Level 4 or Level 5) vehicle. It also directs the Secretary of Transportation, in collaboration with the National Academies of Science, to conduct an accessible infrastructure study to determine the best practices for public transportation infrastructure to be modified to improve the ability of Americans with disabilities to find, access, and use ride-hail automated vehicles.
We are watching for future legislation in Congress related to ITS technology and the transportation industry in general, and we expect even more legislation and conversations on AI and AVs to come.
Outside of legislation, we are continuing to follow all activity from key committees, including the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, House Energy & Commerce Committee, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. We have already seen hearings on the “State of Transportation” in the U.S., cybersecurity and internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence. Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) remains a hot topic among Members of Congress, as well as developing the transportation workforce and improving technical education.
Notably, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich), has raised concerns about the transportation and automotive industry using parts and software from China, particularly in AVs and electric vehicles (EVs). In a hearing, she asked witnesses what the U.S. can do to ensure that the Chinese Communist Party is not successful in its attempt to flood the AV and automotive sector.
ITS America tracks with interest the continued conversations on Capitol Hill related to privacy laws, AVs, and transportation technology. We will be monitoring hearings throughout the year and providing timely updates to our members on relevant exchanges and information.
While ITS America is not an advocate for specific policies beyond the Federal level, we monitor legislative actions at the state and local level that could impact members or become a federal legislative action at a later date. On that front, beyond Washington, we’ve seen other legislation introduced that will impact the transportation industry. Notably, in California, State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill (SB 961) in the California state senate that would mandate that Caltrans require speed limiters on all new vehicles bought or manufactured in California commencing the 2027 model year. The speed limiter would operate passively, giving the driver an ability to temporarily disable it, and would prevent the driver from exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 MPH. There would be exceptions for EMS vehicles and law enforcement agencies would have the option to disable it for certain vehicles. Next, the bill heads to committee. If you want to learn more about what is happening on Capitol Hill or engage in the work of our policy team, please reach out to Bobby McCurdy at email@example.com. As a reminder, we invite all members to participate in our committees, working groups and communities of practice. Click here for more information on how to join in this work.