The Illinois aggregates industry has reasons to celebrate as we close out 2019. This was the year we finally passed a sustainably-funded state capital construction program — the largest in Illinois' history. As a direct result of the Rebuild Illinois capital program, IDOT has released its new six-year road and bridge plan which shows the state will invest more than twice as much in road and bridge improvements over the next six years compared to last year's six-year plan.
Local governments are now seeing significant increases in infrastructure funding from the program. A couple of the most important and overlooked aspects of the program the IAAP helped pass were that the user fee increases were indexed for inflation and that revenue for the general sales tax on motor fuel will begin to be used to help fund transportation — making the funding sustainable beyond the initial six years of the program. In addition, the capital bill included a vertical construction component that will result in major new public facility building projects throughout the state. Our industry played a role in helping pass this landmark legislation and we will play a major role in rebuilding Illinois!
The industry scored a bonus victory in the capital construction legislative package as a number of pro-business tax reforms were added to entice votes. IAAP members will benefit from an expansion of the Manufacturing Machinery and Equipment (MM&E) sales tax exemption to tangible personal property (consumables). In addition, the IAAP was successful this year in helping defeat a number of hostile bills detrimental to our industry — such as an attempt to extend prevailing wage regulations to the transportation of aggregates to public works projects and onerous new environmental regulations.
We expect to face renewed attempts to pass many of these bad bills in 2020 as well as new legislation attacking our industry. This is why it is critical that we elect pro-business legislators that will stand up for us in Springfield. We encourage everyone to build relationships with your local legislators. Hosting a legislator for a tour of your operation is a great way to educate them on the crucial role our industry plays.
On the federal side, partisan political divides have prevented serious consideration of a major new infrastructure funding legislation. However, we have seen progress in regulatory reforms to streamline the permitting process to shorten the time needed to build infrastructure projects. The onerous and unnecessary 2015 U.S. EPA Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule has been repealed and a more reasonable rule is being proposed to replace it. We also continue to push for MSHA to take a more common-sense approach to enforcing safety regulations.
The IAAP's greatest strength is the active participation of our members. We encourage you and your employees to take an active role in the IAAP. The IAAP's member committees (Education, Environmental, Safety, Specifications/Technical, and Sustainability) continue to do great work in support of our industry and welcome new members. We also encourage you and your employees to attend the 2020 IAAP Convention and Aggregate Miner Safety Conference to be held March 4th and 5th in Springfield.
As we prepare to enter a new decade, many opportunities and challenges lie ahead for our industry. The IAAP has formed a member work group looking at ways the association can address the issue of workforce development. Our industry provides great job opportunities and we need to do a better job promoting those career opportunities. Expect to see more information on this initiative in the coming months.
Thank you for your IAAP membership. Shawn, Jodi and I are here to serve you. Contact us whenever we can be of assistance and let us know how we can better serve your needs. We continue to be proud to represent this important industry.
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