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Fleischmann, DesJarlais introduce first bill, saves Tennessee taxpayers estimated $50 million

June 21, 2011
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and Congressman Scott DesJarlais have introduced a bill to rollback an unfunded mandate on local Tennessee counties. New standards put forth by the Federal Highway Administration would require Tennessee counties to update and replace road signs by 2015 and 2018. The Tennessee County Highway Officials Association estimates this accelerated schedule could cost local governments $50 million.

Congressman Fleischmann and Congressman DesJarlais have introduced legislation in the House, to match legislation introduced by Senators Alexander and Corker, to wave the new timeline, and allow local governments to meet the new standards when they replace signs at the end of their natural life cycle.

“The federal government is once again placing an undue burden on states when they can least afford it. While this Administration, and their departments, might have the mindset of ‘tax, borrow, spend’, local governments cannot do the same. At a time when they are working to be fiscally responsible, and balance their budgets, the federal government is telling them to spend money they don’t have. I am proud to join with Senators Alexander and Corker to put an end to this unfunded mandate. Washington politicians should take a clue from local and state officials, and get to work on balancing their budget – instead of telling states how to spend their money,” Fleischmann said.

“This is certainly a prime example of an untimely, unfunded federal mandate.  Local governments have already had to tighten their belts and carefully manage every dollar in their budget. Unlike the federal government, most local governments have to balance their budget and can’t engage in spending beyond their means. During these difficult economic times, I think it’s simply unreasonable for the federal government to mandate a new standard to force the replacement of road signs that are still safe and usable. This bill is quite simple: it allows localities to replace signs at the end of their life cycle instead of forcing an unnecessary change that our local highway authorities neither need nor can afford at the present time,” DesJarlais said.

“It is financially impossible for Tennessee county governments to comply with this unfunded FHWA mandate.  Tennessee county governments’ inability to comply with the FHWA sign mandates indirectly exposes all units of local governments to potential litigation.  One of the biggest concerns for county governments regarding program mandates is the threat of lawsuits for non-compliance,” the Tennessee County Highway Officials Association said.

This is the first bill introduced by both Congressman Fleischmann and Congressman DesJarlais.

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Watch the video below of Chuck introducing the legislation.