Lewis amendment to advance accountability passes with unanimous voice vote

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Washington, April 30, 2018 | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Congressman Jason Lewis (MN-02) issued the following statement after his amendment to the FAA Authorization Act of 2018, requiring all Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to have locally elected members on their boards, passed unanimously by voice today in the House and was added to H.R. 4.

“Constituencies across the country deserve to have a voice in choosing who represents them and their needs on their local MPOs. The decisions made by these organizations directly affect the communities they govern. Our Met Council in Minnesota is the only MPO in the nation which does not have elected officials on their board, and yet they have independent authority to raise taxes.  Having local elections increases the accountability of these regional boards. As federal law mandates, Met Council membership should include those elected by the people, for the people.  This is a great day for the people of the Second District and those that have been underrepresented in the region.”

Background:

MAP-21 required that federally recognized MPOs that participate in transit improvement program planning, long-range capital plans, coordination of transit services, and that carry out other state activities, all of which rely on federal funding and grants, meet certain requirements.  These requirements include a board makeup of locally elected officials, public transportation officials, and appropriate state officials.

The Metropolitan Council (Met Council) currently has a Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) that consists of local elected officials, but in August of 2015, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration ruled that the TAB lacked any voting authority and therefore the Met Council did not meet the threshold of MPO compliance.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration used a clause in federal law to “grandfather” the Met Council into compliance.

Our amendment does not seek to change the operations or scope of the Met Council.  It does not attempt to change the activities of the board.  It simply requires that for a board to be in compliance they need to have locally elected official representation consistent with every other MPO in the country.

MPOs are established under federal law and receive federal funding in order to perform transportation policy-making functions.

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