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Election Analysis: What’s Next for Biking?

The Nov. 4 midterm election saw a major shake up in Congress — and there are still several local, state and federal run-off elections looming in its wake. Earlier this month, I discussed what these results mean for biking at the state and federal levels. You can flip through my slides here.

So what’s next? Here are the key takeaways from this month’s elections — and what to watch for in the next several months.

At the state and local level

  • Ballot initiatives on the local level: 2/3 of all local transportation ballot initiatives passed, and 70 percent of measures that included transit funding passed. This shows a continued willingness of Americans to tax themselves for transportation.
  • Ballot initiatives on the state level: The majority passed, but none of these measures actually raised new money. It raises the question of whether support for tax increases for transportation start to fall off at the state level.
  • State Houses: Republicans gained almost 350 seats in state houses andgovernorships nationwide. Currently there are 30 states where both chambers of the state legislature are controlled by  Republicans — in 11 states both chambers are controlled by Democrats.

At the federal Level

  • Despite changes in Congress, the No. 1 issue remains the same: Congress still needs to figure out how to fund transportation before a long term transportation bill can pass.
  • The two committees charged with finding funding, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are likely to debate the question, “Why is bike infrastructure eligible for transportation funding when bicyclists don’t pay in?”
  • The House Transportation Committee will continue to be led by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), who continues to value bipartisan cooperation.
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will now be led by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Inhofe does not support dedicated funding for biking and walking in the federal transportation bill, but in 2012 he did craft a deal with Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) to include local control over transportation alternatives funds. 

Disclaimer: It’s important to acknowledge that bicycling has always had both Democratic and Republican champions. However, opposition to bicycle friendly policies and investment at the federal level has come from Republican leadership.

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