At its January meeting, the COG Board of Directors approved legislative priorities for 2017, which include support for the Metrorail Safety Commission, transportation, water, and energy infrastructure investments, workforce development, and human services.
The priorities document calls for COG’s continued support of the states as they create the new Metrorail Safety Commission (MSC), which will serve as the transit system’s State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA), as well as additional federal funding to support its operations. MSC compact legislation was approved by the District of Columbia in December and is being considered by the Maryland and Virginia legislatures during their current sessions.
Once the three jurisdictions each approve enabling legislation, the commission will have the power to order immediate corrective safety actions, investigate hazards or accidents, and issue fines. The commission will assume safety oversight of Metro from the Federal Transit Administration.
COG’s legislative priorities related to transportation also note that the funding needed to maintain the region’s rail and highway infrastructure in a state of good repair is chronically underfunded and call for fixing the Federal Transportation Trust Fund, supporting federal funding for Metrorail operations, and supporting funding for next generation transportation systems.
Increasing investments in water infrastructure is another COG legislative priority. The priorities document calls for supporting investments in water infrastructure and workforce development through mechanisms such as tax credits, infrastructure banking, Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) funding, state revolving funds (SRFs), and maintaining tax exemption status for municipal bonds.
In addition to transportation and water infrastructure, the board priorities focus on modernizing the region’s energy infrastructure. For example, COG urges the deployment of clean energy innovation and technology, such as distributed energy generation technologies like solar and wind power as well as low and zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure.
COG’s workforce development priorities encourage legislation and programs that fund local job development and career and technical education. Its human services priorities focus on mental health and school nutrition.
COG engages a range of state and federal agencies to advance the region’s legislative priorities and is continually identifying opportunities for collaboration. Many COG Board members hold significant leadership positions with key state and national associations and COG is focused on better leveraging these connections.
MORE: View the 2017 COG Legislative Priorities document