Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?
                                                     Calendar No. 378

114th Congress }                                        { Report
 2d Session    }                                        { 114-217




               February 29, 2016.--Ordered to be printed


          Mr. Barrasso, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1776]

    The Committee on Indian Affairs, to which was referred the 
bill (S. 1776) to enhance tribal road safety, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
with an amendment and recommends that the bill, as amended, do 


    The purpose of S. 1776 is intended to expedite and 
streamline various safety road projects, give Indian tribes 
better access to crash data, and seek ways to improve safety on 
public roads throughout Indian Country.


    Improving safety on roads in Indian and Alaska Native 
communities through the TIRES Act would significantly improve 
the quality of life for these communities. Motor vehicle 
crashes are the leading cause of death of Indian children 
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
(CDC). Native American infants, under the age of one, are eight 
times more likely to die in a vehicle-related crash than non-
Native infants. Motor vehicle crashes are also the leading 
cause of unintentional injury for Native adults.
    From 2004-2010, the CDC reported the following five states 
with the highest motor vehicle-related death rates for Native 
           Wyoming (72 deaths per 100,000 population)
           South Dakota (59 deaths per 100,000 
           Montana and North Dakota (56 deaths per 
        100,000 population)
           Arizona (45 deaths per 100,000 population)
    The CDC estimated that the national rate was 10.7 deaths 
per 100,000 population, during the same time frame.
    Between 1975 and 2002, the number of fatal motor vehicle 
crashes on Indian reservations and in Alaska Native villages 
increased more than 50 percent. Meanwhile, fatal motor vehicle 
crashes for the rest of the United States declined 2 percent 
according to the Department of Transportation (DOT).
    In a 2004 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
(NHTSA) study, it was reported that of those individuals who 
died in motor vehicle crashes on reservations, 76 percent of 
them were not wearing a seat belt. In 2011, the NHTSA reported 
569 motor vehicle crash fatalities and 181 non-Native motor 
vehicle crash fatalities on reservation lands.
    In 2012, the NHTSA estimated 42 percent of motor vehicle 
crashes on Indian lands were alcohol related. The national 
average during that year was 31 percent.
    Bureau of Indian Affairs. On April 22, 2015, Director 
Michael Black of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) testified 
before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee at an oversight 
hearing on seeking pathways to safer roads in Indian Country. 
In his testimony, he stated that ``[a]pproximately 20,300 miles 
(70 percent) of the BIA system roads are not paved and are, 
thus, considered `inadequate' from the perspective of the level 
of service index used to address roads and bridges in the BIA 
road system.'' He also testified that ``certain programs have 
decreased shares under MAP-21.'' One of those programs losing 
funding was the Tribal Transportation Program Bridge Program as 
a result of its consolidation into the Tribal Transportation 

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    On July 15, 2015, Senator Barrasso introduced S. 1776, 
along with Senator Crapo. The bill was referred to the Senate 
Committee on Indian Affairs. The Committee did not hold a 
legislative hearing on the bill. But on April 22, 2015, the 
Committee held an oversight hearing entitled, ``Tribal 
Transportation: Pathways to Safer Roads in Indian Country'' on 
the issue. On July 22, 2015, the Committee met at a duly called 
business meeting to consider the bill. By voice vote, the 
Committee then ordered the bill, as amended, to be reported 
favorably, to the Senate.


    Only one amendment was offered to S. 1776 to be considered 
at the business meeting on July 22, 2015. Chairman Barrasso 
offered an amendment, in the nature of a substitute, which 
would clarify roads eligible for categorical exclusion and 
include certain roads serving Alaska Native villages (at the 
request of Senator Murkowski). The amendment was agreed to by 
voice vote.


Section 1: Short title

    The Tribal Infrastructure and Roads Enhancement and Safety 
Act or ``TIRES Act.''

Section 2: Definitions

    This section defines the term Indian Reservation to mean 
what it is defined as in section 3 of the Indian Financing Act 
of 1974 (25 U.S.C. 1452).
    This section defines the term Secretary to mean the 
Secretary of the Interior.

Section 3: Application of categorical exclusions to certain tribal 
        transportation facilities

    This section states that certain highway projects, 
including projects administered by the BIA, located on an 
Indian reservation, are categorically excluded from the 
requirements of environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements under the National Environmental Policy Act 

Section 4: Streamlining for tribal public safety projects within 
        existing operational rights-of-way

    This section allows for expedited treatment for permits and 
approvals that might be required by agencies such as the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife, etc., if a tribal 
public safety project, as defined by this Act, is in the 
operational right of way and is a categorical exclusion 
project. Such treatment is only granted if a tribal department 
of transportation (or an official representing the Indian 
tribe), the State, or Bureau of Indian Affairs, certifies to 
the Secretary of Transportation that there is a safety benefit 
to the public.
    A federal agency (Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife, 
etc.) would have to make a determination no later than 45 days 
from the date of receipt, with a potential extension of 30 
days, on an application by an Indian tribe for a permit, 
approval, or jurisdictional determination. If no decision is 
made by the Secretary in that time, the permit or approval is 
granted. An agency has the ability to deny any such permit 
within the 75 day period.

Section 5: Bureau of Indian Affairs reduction in administrative fee

    This section reduces the administrative fee charged by the 
BIA from 6 percent to 5 percent.

Section 6: Option of assuming NEPA approval authority

    This section allows for an Indian tribe to assume authority 
over and responsibility for NEPA for projects on reservations. 
Eligible Indian tribes are defined by this section. Such Indian 
tribes would be required to designate an official to represent 
the Indian tribe and assume the status of a responsible Federal 
official. Indian tribes that apply for this authority would 
have to accept the jurisdiction of the Federal court.

Section 7: Tribal Government transportation safety data report

    This section requires a report to Congress, no later than 
one year after the date of enactment, by the Secretary of the 
Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, 
the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services on improving the collection and sharing of motor 
vehicle crash data on Indian reservations and seeking data an 
Indian tribe can use to recover damages to tribal property 
caused by motorists.
    This section requires that the Secretary provide Indian 
tribes with options and best practices for the transition to 
paperless transportation safety data reporting systems that 
improve the collection of crash reports, archive and share 
crash records, and use data exclusively to address traffic 
safety issues on Indian reservations.

Section 8: Bureau of Indian Affairs road safety study

    This section requires a road safety study to be conducted 
by the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Assistant 
Secretary for Indian Affairs, in consultation with the 
Secretary of Transportation, the Attorney General, and the 
States. The study would identify and evaluate options for 
improving safety on public roads on Indian reservations. The 
study would be submitted to the Senate Committee on Indian 
Affairs and the House Natural Resources Committee.

Section 9: Tribal transportation funding

    This section restores the Transportation Facility Bridge 
Program as a separate program from the Tribal Transportation 
Program, as it had been in previous federal law. Under this 
section, the Tribal Transportation Program is adjusted for 
inflation through FY 2021. The Tribal Transportation Facility 
Bridge Program would also receive modest increases in funding 
through FY 2021.


    The following cost estimate, as provided by the 
Congressional Budget Office, February 16, 2016, was prepared 
for S. 1776:

                                                 February 16, 2016.
Hon. John Barrasso,
Chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: If you wish further details on this 
estimate, we will be pleased to provide them. The CBO staff 
contact is Sarah Puro.
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Summary: Based on information presented to CBO, CBO assumes 
that most spending for tribal highways programs funded from the 
Highway Trust Fund will continue to be controlled by obligation 
limitations set in appropriations acts. CBO estimates that the 
bill would authorize in increase in obligation limitations 
equal to the increase in budget authority over the 2016-2021 
period. Under that assumption CBO estimates that implementing 
the bill would cost $150 million over the 2016-2026 period.
    CBO estimates that enacting the legislation would not 
increase net direct spending or on budget deficits in any of 
the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
    S. 1776, contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA).

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The Committee has received no communications from the 
Executive Branch regarding S. 1776.


    Paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate requires each report accompanying a bill to evaluate the 
regulatory and paperwork impact that would be incurred in 
carrying out the bill. The Committee believes that S. 1776 will 
have a minimal impact on regulatory or paperwork requirements.


    In compliance with subsection 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee finds that the 
enactment of S. 1776 will not make any changes in existing law.