In the latest intense competition for Dept. of Transportation funds, the agency awarded $293 million for 53 streetcar and bus projects around the country. Some of the aid will go for construction. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, announcing the winners on July 8, said the grants are part of the Obama Administration’s community “livability” initiative, which links transportation planning and funding with housing and economic development. Awards included $130 million in Urban Circulator funds and $163 million in Bus and Bus Livability aid. The federal grants will be supplemented by local funds. Streetcar projects in St. Louis, Charlotte, N.C., Cincinnati, Fort
The Justice Dept. has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop Arizona’s new immigration law from taking effect, contending the state statute is unconstitutional and will “undermine” federal immigration enforcement. Arizona Senate Bill 1070, enacted on April 23, is to take effect on July 29. It directs police, while stopping an individual, to try to determine that person’s immigration status when there is “reasonable suspicion” that he or she is in the U.S. illegally. The Justice Dept.’s lawsuit, filed on July 6 in federal district court in Arizona against the state and Gov. Janice K. Brewer (R), says, “In our constitutional
An appropriations package that includes $2.9 billion in relief and reconstruction aid for Haiti has cleared the House and will next move to the Senate for a vote. The spending measure, which the House passed late on July 1, focuses mainly on funding for the Afghanistan war. But Republicans oppose the non-defense spending House Democrats added to the bill, and the White House has threatened a veto because of a provision that would cut certain education funding. The bill has not had a smooth path. The Senate had approved a $58.5-billion supplemental spending bill on May 27, which provided $2.8
A voluminous House-Senate conference agreement that would revamp federal financial regulation has cleared the House and awaits a vote in the Senate, where Democrats are trying to pick up enough votes for passage. The measure was approved by the House on June 30 by a 237-192 vote, generally along party lines. A Senate floor vote is the next step. The package was amended the day before the House floor vote in an attempt to draw enough votes to get it through the Senate. The amendment would omit a $19-billion fee to be charged to large banks and hedge funds and
Two Senate committees have cleared bills crafted to address aspects of the Gulf oil spill. But whether those measures will become vehicles for wider-ranging energy policy, or climate-change provisions, remains an open question. Some political observers are skeptical that the Senate will be able to approve any sort of wide-ranging bill in a congressional session that will be cut short by the mid-term elections. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a bill on June 30 that would toughen safety requirements for offshore drilling operations, provide adequate funding for more comprehensive inspections of offshore rigs and mandate reforms at
The Justice Dept. has filed a lawsuit seeking to bar Arizona's new immigration law from taking effect, contending that the state statute is unconstitutional and will "undermine" federal immigration enforcement. Related Links: Arizona's Immigration Law Troubles State's Contractors Justice Dept. Complaint Statement by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) Statement by Arizona Senators McCain (R) and Kyl (R) At issue is Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed into law on April 23. The measure, which is to take effect on July 29, directs police, while stopping an individual, to try to determine that person's immigration status when
A Senate report sees troubling indications that Haiti’s post-earthquake reconstruction has “stalled.” The June 22 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report says items to be addressed include developing “a feasible, comprehensive rebuilding strategy” and getting the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission fully operational. The Jan. 12 quake caused about 230,000 deaths and an estimated $11.5 billion in damages.
An apparent agreement between House and Senate conferees on a rewrite of federal financial regulations itself underwent an emergency revision on June 29 as the lead Senate negotiator, Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), won approval for an amendment he hopes will get the bill through the chamber. Construction officials theorized that if the measure becomes law, its new regulatory mandates and costs could prompt banks to make already-tight credit even more dear. Photo By Ap/wideworld Frank (left), Dodd led House and Senate conferees on bill, including late amendment. Dodd saw that objections to a $19-billion “assessment” on banks and hedge funds was
In a decision with implications for software vendors and construction firms, the U.S. Supreme Court on July 28 ruled business methods, such as formulas or strategies for improving efficiency, are patentable. The case, Bilski v. Kappos, appealed a lower-court ruling upholding the U.S. Patent Office’s denial of a patent for a formula for minimizing risk in buying and selling energy. The appeals court cited logic that limited patent protection to inventions involving new machinery or physical transformations of items. In the court’s 5-4 opinion, the justices upheld the rejection of the patent application, saying the formula was too abstract to
Single-employer and multi-employer pension plans that suffered losses when financial markets plunged in 2008 and 2009 have gained some relief under legislation enacted on June 25. The measure allows multi-employer plans, which affect unionized workers and companies in construction, to spread 2008-2009 investment losses over 30 years, instead of 15 years. The pension provisions moved to enactment when lawmakers shifted them from a stalled package of tax-break extensions to a bill that temporarily halts a cut in Medicare payments to physicians. It was the Medicare-pensions bill that President Obama signed. Meanwhile, the tax “extenders” bill was blocked in the Senate
In an unprecedented collaboration, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Salesforce, and floor-covering supplier Interface are showing their collective commitment to embodied carbon reduction by joining the board of Building Transparency.