As the debate on transportation funding wore on in the House on Tuesday night, Representative Emmer of Minnesota introduced an amendment that would have cut communities’ ability to use their transit funds according to their own needs. The Emmer amendment would not allow New Start grants (these are outside of the Highway Trust Fund and come from elsewhere in the budget) to build sidewalks or bike lanes as part of a transit project. For many transit users, however, those same sidewalks and bike lanes provide the key connections needed to get to a bus stop. Right now, communities who receive the grants can decide for themselves whether those connections are needed. Rep. Emmer’s amendment would have taken away that local decision-making ability.
However, the amendment was defeated in a close vote, 212-214. Many, many thanks to Representatives from Texas who voted against this strike against local control active transportation funding. These are the folks who voted against the amendment; if your representative is on this list, please take a moment to send a thank-you email:
Rep. Joaquin Castro (San Antonio)
Rep. Henry Cuellar (Laredo)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Austin/San Antonio)
Rep. Al Green (Houston)
Rep. Gene Green (Houston)
Rep. Kay Granger (Fort Worth)
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (Edinburg)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Houston)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Dallas)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (El Paso)
Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. (Brownsville)
Rep. Marc Veasey (Fort Worth)
If your representative is not on the list, please reach out! Let him or her know how important this funding is to communities. Here are some talking points to consider when speaking to your representative:
- My name is _____ and my occupation is ______. I am a resident of District ____.
- I was sorry to hear that you voted for the Emmer amendment on Transportation HUD Appropriations on Tuesday, June 9.
- The amendment would have limited how local governments can spend New Start funds.
- New Start projects have gone through a local planning process, and this amendment would have overridden the local decision-making processes.
- Improving Bicycle and pedestrian projects in and around transit expand the reach of transit, making those projects more cost effective.
- These improvements also make transit safer and easier to use for people of all ages and abilities.
- (Do you have a personal story about transportation access or a local project you could mention? Please share it with your representative.)
- In the future, please support multi-modal, cost-effective and locally-supported transportation.
- Thank you for your time.
Thank you for reaching out to your elected officials to make Texas a better place to ride a bike!
Photo: BikeTexas’ Leslie Luciano at the US Capitol as part of the National Bike Summit in 2014. Visiting members of Congress reminds them that people who ride bikes also vote!