The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

January 15, 2014

World in Brief Wednesday, January 15, 2014

(Continued)

One reason for optimism is that some members of Congress are beginning to talk about specific proposals to shore up the federal Highway Trust Fund, which has been teetering on the edge of insolvency for years, Foxx told The Associated Press in an interview.

The fund pays for federal highway and transit aid, as well as many transportation safety programs. It's funded primarily through federal gas and diesel taxes, but revenues haven't kept pace with transportation needs. Without congressional action, the fund could start "bouncing checks" as soon as August, according to a draft of a speech Foxx plans to give to an international gathering of transportation researchers and officials in Washington on Wednesday.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Mich., recently introduced legislation to increase the federal 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax by 15 cents over the next three years, and then index it for inflation. It would raise about $170 million over the next decade. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has proposed eliminating the per-gallon gas tax and replacing it with a federal sales tax based on a percentage of the price of the gas sold.

"The more folks step up and put their ideas on the table, the more it creates the context for a solution to emerge," Foxx said. "I consider it progress that these proposals are being put out there." He declined, however, to endorse the proposals.

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Judge denies preliminary approval of NFL concussion settlement, fears $765M may not be enough

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal judge is slowing down the proposed $765 million settlement of NFL concussion claims, questioning if there's enough money to cover 20,000 retired players.

U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody denied preliminary approval of the plan on Tuesday because she's worried the money could run out sooner than expected. She also raised concerns that anyone who gets concussion damages from the NFL would be barred from suing the NCAA or other amateur football leagues.

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