A total of 456 visitors were hosted by 367 Congressional offices, a record for the annual event which has been held since 1999, according to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), which helped coordinate activities. The group represents 550 short line and regional railroads and railroad supply company members in legislative and regulatory matters.
The ASLRRA for the day focused on three issues – balanced regulation, permanent adoption of the 45G tax credit, and opposition to longer, heavier trucks. “Short line railroads extend the national rail network by connecting rail service to local economies and building jobs in America’s industrial and agricultural heartland,” said Linda Bauer Darr, President of ASLRRA.
The Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act was a key point of discussions, as it removes the need to pass legislation every year in support of the 45G credit. The credit has helped spur nearly $4 billion of private investment in short line and regional railroads since its inception in 2008. It expired on Dec. 31, 2016.
The BRACE Act was reintroduced in both houses in the 115th Congress (HR 721 and S407) – separate from other omnibus tax legislation. The lobbying effort garnered 82 cosponsors in the House and 15 in the Senate as of March 6, the ASLRRA said. Action on the bill isn’t expected until late spring/early summer, according to congressional staffers.