State legislators and legislative staff from around the country gathered in Washington, DC last week to share innovative solutions to the pressing problems facing states, and infrastructure issues were among the topics they tackled.
During National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) annual Fall Forum, several sessions focused on infrastructure issues that are facing state policymakers. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told those in attendance that long-term, bipartisan solutions are needed to address the nation’s infrastructure needs. Lawmakers heard from representatives of the National Association of Regulatory and Utility Commissioners about resiliency efforts in the states to protect critical infrastructure during natural disasters. Rep. Linda Harper-Brown of Texas led a discussion on how states can utilize public-private partnerships to finance transportation infrastructure projects by understanding various revenue and financing approaches, and evaluating the policy implications and potential benefits and risks of partnering with the private sector.
Another session focused on managing water concerns through hydraulic fracturing. The session educated legislators on how this process works, what chemicals are used and what this means for water quality in the states, as well as what legislatures are doing to protect water quality.
NCSL’s National Resources and Infrastructure Committee developed these sessions. The committee is one of nine NCSL Standing Committees that educates Congress and federal agencies about state concerns and serves as a forum for state legislators and legislative staff to learn about and share information regarding programs and initiatives in other states. In particular, this committee has jurisdiction over state and federal energy, environment, agriculture and transportation programs, legislation, regulations and policies.
As we have seen in recent years, the lack of action by Congress on infrastructure issues has resulted in the states continuing to take the lead, and meetings hosted by NCSL and the Council of State Governments (CSG) provide valuable venues for state policymakers to exchange information and ideas on these critical issues. ASCE has maintained partnerships with both of these organizations to help serve as a resource for state legislators during these discussions.