Rule 7: You must have a champion in the House and the Senate
By mid- 2009, we had made some inroads with the FDOT, however, while we were working on implementation of the MEPDG and the Chairman of the Concrete Paving Alliance, Sam Joiner, was respected by the Department’s leadership, there was no guarantee that any of the changes would be around longer than the Administration. As such, we met with the Senate Chairman of Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations, Mike Fasano. In the House, our champion was House Appropriations Chair, David Rivera from Miami who was close friends with many of our South Florida members.
Both Senator Fasano and Representative Rivera had known our issues for years, but it wasn’t until then that everything had been lined up where legislation to address the need for a two pavement system was warranted. As stated, both wanted to be assured that we had done all we could to exhaust our administrative remedies and we had given the Department ample time to do the right thing.
With the beginning of the 2010 Session, it was strategically calculated not to do legislation; however, an amendment was prepared which could be placed on any transportation legislation. The amendment would mandate that all pavements would have to last for at least 20 years before maintenance is required. This would preclude the continued use of under-designed asphalt designs, which require resurfacing well before they are projected. Also, the amendment would require a 40 year life cycle cost analysis in order to determine which pavement is the most economical beyond initial cost.
Most certainly, the FDOT balked, asphalt balked, and the road builders balked. However, we were resolute, telling the Department that we had gone through the motions with them including their continued over-designs of concrete and they had made a commitment to address that issue.
The opposition was in a precarious position; no one wanted to tell committee chairmen they had to get up and speak against their amendment. Nor did they want to have to get up and defend what everyone had begun to view as status quo that was not so easily defensible.
Ultimately, the FDOT leadership handed out an olive branch. What they offered in return for not moving legislation in 2010, is they would commence with rulemaking that would create a legally mandated Pavement Type Selection where the Department reviews a project, makes its findings and our industry is afforded with the opportunity to contest those findings, should we disagree. In turn, the Department must respond to our concerns and we subsequently have legal points of entry that allows us to formally protest should we believe that the Department’s decision has been biased. The proposal by the Department also included a mandated life cycle cost analysis.
The Department believed that the existing statutes governing them allowed them the authority to implement such rules, so no further legislation would be needed. Following discussions with our sponsors, Senator Fasano drafted a letter to the Secretary, outlining what he believed was the agreed upon direction of the proposed rule and, upon her acknowledgement, our industry agreed to forgo legislation and participate in the rulemaking process.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/the-americas/11062013/effective_concrete_advocacy_part07/