The following link will take you to an article I saw in today's Washington Post on the status of the Transportation Bill. As you may recall, the Transportation Bill has been one of the most important bills for recreational boating for over 30-years.
It is important because the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Trust Fund is a part of the Highway Trust Fund which is re-authorized by the Transportation Bill. This fund provides federal money from the excise tax on gasoline for boating safety law enforcement and education, access, pump outs, etc.
A full Transportation Bill has not been passed by Congress for three years. Instead Congress has passed eight short-term extensions at a level of funding of three years ago, and the current extension is set to expire on March 31. It looks like we are looking at another short-term authorization. As you can anticipate, differences on raising the gasoline tax and the spending level for highway projects are the two key issues for the delay.
For the past five to six years, Congress has been transferring General Revenue funds to the Highway Trust Fund because gasoline tax revenues have been below what is needed to pay for the projects authorized by Congress. There is a strong group in Congress who wants to stop those transfers and make the Highway Trust Fund pay its own way, but without a tax increase. For many years the Fund operated with annual surpluses. Boating is caught in the middle of this debate.