By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA

Members of the House this week introduced bipartisan legislation that raises by nearly $6 billion the federal cap on Private Activity Bonds (PABs). PABs allow state or local governments to issue tax-exempt debt, with approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation, for qualified improvements to highways or surface freight facilities that are privately developed and operated.

U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) introduced the “Building United States Infrastructure and Leveraging Development (BUILD) Act,” H.R. 2541. It would increase the federal cap for state and local government PABs by $5.8 billion, to $20.8 billion.

The idea is to allow state and local governments to enter more public-private partnerships to supplement future surface transportation projects. U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) in February introduced an identical bill with the same name.

ARTBA supports both pieces of legislation.