CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 897, the Residential and Commuter Toll Fairness Act of 2011, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval. The bill was introduced on March 3, 2011, by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
H.R. 897 would specifically authorize states, counties, municipalities, and transportation authorities to establish programs that offer discounted tolls or user fees to residents in geographic areas that are accessible through a means that requires them to pay a toll, user fee, or fare. The bill would authorize states, counties, municipalities, and transportation authorities to make rules to implement special toll and fare arrangements. The bill would also state that nothing in the bill would limit the authority of states, counties, municipalities, and transportation authorities to operate or manage roads.
According to findings listed in the bill, residents of certain municipalities and counties that depend on toll roads for access to their homes endure disproportionate toll, user fee, or fare burdens compared to others who have a greater number of transportation options. To address this inequality, and to reduce the financial hardship often imposed on such residents, several state and local governments have established programs that authorize discounted transportation tolls, user fees, and fares for residents in geographic areas that require them to use toll roads or transportation that requires them to pay a fare. This bill would authorize state and local governments to offer these programs for discounted tolls and fares to certain residents. According to the sponsor’s office, “This legislation is in response to a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on the case of Selevan v. New York Thruway Authority, which ruled that that toll discounts for New York residents of towns bordering the New York Thruway are unconstitutional.”
A CBO cost estimate for H.R. 897 was not available as of press time.