Any employer in Missouri that’s tried to get a construction project off the ground will tell you the same thing: regulations, often from multiple federal agencies, add to costs and delay projects—which results in many of them never getting off the ground. That’s bad news when it comes to the need to create more jobs and boost business opportunities in our state.
Business owners and project managers I talk to understand that some amount of regulation is necessary in order to protect their workers and avoid having a negative effect on the local community. But they want rules of the road that are commonsense and easily understood—especially while we’re still in the midst of an economic recovery, with too many Americans struggling to find jobs, especially those in the construction industry.
To tackle this problem, I’ve teamed up with my Republican colleague from Ohio, Senator Rob Portman, and we’ve introduced the bipartisan Federal Permitting Improvement Act. Our bill is directly tailored to get these critical construction projects moving and put more folks back to work more quickly. The legislation applies to proposals for infrastructure, development, and energy—projects that could put thousands of Missourians back to work.
Our bill would cut through red tape and expedite projects by taking several commonsense steps. It would require one “lead agency” to be designated for a project when multiple federal agencies are involved. Right now we’ve got too many cooks in the kitchen, with agencies acting on their own without coordinating their efforts and no one overseeing the process.
Our bipartisan proposal also encourages greater cooperation with state and local permitting authorities—ensuring that projects aren’t stalled as they move through multiple levels of bureaucracy.
Lastly, it reduces the timeframe in which major infrastructure projects are vulnerable to environmental lawsuits, from six years to 150 days. This change will provide businesses the certainty they need to invest in projects without the fear that they’ll be subject to lawsuits years after the completion of a road or bridge.
I’ve never been afraid to buck my party and work across the aisle if I believed it was the right thing to do, but I firmly believe this is an initiative that folks of all stripes can get behind. This bill has the support of members of both political parties, and is also supported by labor unions and key business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Roundtable—coalitions that don’t often work together in Washington.
I’m confident that with solutions that enable projects to get off the sidelines—and put folks to get back to work—our economy can continue to improve and Missouri can continue to prosper.