Posts Tagged ‘Ann Begeman’

Hedlund Intended to Replace Begeman on STB

May 3, 2021

The nomination of Democrat Karen J. Hedlund to the Surface Transportation Board is intended to be a replacement for Republican Ann Begeman.

Although Begeman’s term expired Dec. 31, 2020, by law she is eligible to remain on the board in holdover status for up to 12 months or until replaced.

Begeman has served two five-year terms on the STB and was acting chair until replaced in that position by Democrat Martin Oberman last January. STB members are limited to two five-year terms by statute. 

Hedlund will need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before replacing Begeman on the board.

Congressional observers told Railway Age magazine that Hedlund’s nomination is not expected to get a Senate floor vote until June or July.

A former counsel and deputy administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration, Hedlund since January 2015 has worked at WSP USA (then Parsons Brinckerhoff).

Previously she worked with federal, state and local transportation agencies as well as private companies to facilitate financing and development of transportation projects.

Those included Amtrak’s Gateway Program, Chicago O’Hare Airport Express Rail and the California High-Speed Rail Program.

Hedlund received a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.

Oberman Named Chair of STB

January 23, 2021

Martin Oberman has been designated by President Joseph Biden to serve as chairman of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Under federal law, the STB chairman is to be a member of the political party holding the White House.

Oberman, a Chicago attorney, joined the STB as a Democratic member on Jan. 22, 2019, and has served as vice chair since Jan. 6, 2020. His term will expire on Jan. 31, 2023.

Oberman has served as a Chicago alderman, a member of the board of commuter railroad Metra, and as a member of the board of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

He will replace Ann Begeman, a Republican member whose term expired on Dec. 31, but who is eligible to remain on the Board in holdover status until the end of this year.

However, her position could be replaced at any time by the Biden administration.

Senate Confirms 2 STB Nominees

November 20, 2020

The U.S. Senate this week confirmed the appointments of Robert Primus and Michelle Schultz to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which brings the agency to its full authorized number of members.

The fourth and fifth members of the STB are expected to assume their posts shortly.

The STB is authorized by the 2015 Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act to have five members.

Current STB Chairman Ann Begeman’s term expires on Dec. 31 but by law she may remain in holdover status for up to 12 months.

However, she must leave the board if the president appoints and the Senate confirms her successor during 2021.

Begeman is in her second term on the STB and is seen by some Washington observers as unlikely to be renamed to the board.

Primus, a Democrat, was named to replace Democrat Deb Miller for a seat whose term expires Dec. 31, 2022.

Schultz, a Republican, will fill one of two new seats created by the 2015 law that had yet to be filled. She will serve a five-year term.

The term of Republican STB member Patrick Fuchs expires on Jan. 17, 2024 while the term of  Democrat Martin Oberman expires on Dec. 31, 2023.

The STB is expected next year to take action on a number of moves that have become bogged down due to the board being at less than full membership.

These include the method by which revenue adequacy is determined, including whether historical or replacement costs are to be used in computing a railroad’s investment base, and the method for estimating the equity portion of the railroad industry’s cost of capital.  

Also on the docket are matter of whether and how revenue-adequate railroads should be constrained in raising rates and how to simplify and make less costly the determination of reasonable rates where railroads are market-dominant.

Railway Age reported that this issue might be solved through agreement with the railroads that would avoid a post-decision judicial challenge.

The Association of American Railroads is considering proposing some manner of non-precedent-setting arbitration to decide all but major rate cases.

Other matters up for discussion and resolution include setting criteria for, and means to, providing competitive access at sole-served rail facilities; whether to eliminate paper barriers in line sale and line lease agreements that restrict short line railroads from interchanging traffic with competitors of the Class I railroad that sold or leased them the trackage; an appropriate formula for recovery of increased fuel costs; and whether previous regulatory exemptions should be withdrawn, given changed circumstances.”

Begeman Named Permanent STB Chair

March 21, 2018

Ann Begeman has been named the permanent chairman of the Surface Transportation Board by President Donald Trump. Begeman, 53, has been acting chairman since January 2017.

She is serving her second and final term on the STB, having been initially named as a Republican representative by President Barack Obama in 2011. Federal law allows STB members to serve in a 12-month holdover period after their initial appointment expires.

By law an STB member cannot serve more than two five-year terms. Begeman will leave the STB on Dec. 31, 2020.

Begeman is the fourth woman to serve as permanent STB chair since it became a post appointed by the president.

Before being named to the STB, Begeman spent most of her career as a legislative aide to Senate Commerce Committee Republican members, including Larry Pressler of South Dakota, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and John McCain of Arizona

A South Dakota native, Begeman was raised on a farm and has shown an understanding of how railroad mergers and line abandonments have contributed to rural America losing 70 percent of its rail competition since the 1970s.

Humboldt, South Dakota, where Begeman once lived, has lost its rail service to abandonment, leaving the three local grain elevators less competitive with those enjoying direct rail service in a state where half the grain and oil seeds move by rail, and 45 percent of the state’s 2,000 rail miles are owned and operated by BNSF.

Railway Age magazine has described Begeman as an “analytic owl, a fiercely independent thinker and certainly no milquetoast.”

The magazine said she has displayed “a prickly attitude toward an agency culture that seeks to preserve the status quo to maximize chances of prevailing when its decisions are challenged before appellate courts.

Yet her background in rural America has also played a role in her thinking. “Ann becomes most interesting when her heart and head go in different directions,” said an attorney for captive shippers to Railway Age.

The chair of the STB controls the agency’s docket, deciding when to move cases forward, which staff to assign to which aspects of cases, and the timing of draft decisions that will be circulated to other STB members for a vote.

Since last September Begemen and Deb Miller, a Democrat, have been the only members of the STB. The agency is authorized to have five members.

Trump has nominated two Republicans to the Board, including Patrick J. Fuchs, currently a senior staff member of the Commerce Committee; and Michelle A. Schultz, associate general counsel for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. They are awaiting Senate confirmation.

By law no more than three STB members can be from the same political party.

Another Democrat or political independent is expected to be named, although no timeline for that has been set.

The second Democratic seat, last held by former Chairman Dan Elliott, who resigned 15 months before the expiration of his second term, might be filled by a new member.

However, there has been speculation in Washington that a Democrat will be nominated to succeed Miller, serving the statutory holdover year of her first term that expired Dec. 31, 2017.

Two Democrats could be nominated at the same time, one to succeed Miller and the second to fill Elliott’s vacant seat. Miller also could be renominated or the second Democratic seat might be left vacant into 2019.

CSX Shipper Complaints to STB Dropping

February 16, 2018

Even as some CSX shippers continue to be disgruntled with the service they are receiving, other railroad customers are either finding their service satisfactory or have given up complaining about it.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board said that shipper complaints about CSX service have dropped and an STB member attributes that to improved service.

Acting STB Chairman Ann Begeman made that observation in a letter sent to the American Chemistry Council, saying the Board has received “very few calls” regarding CSX service in the past few weeks

The Chemistry Council had earlier this week released findings of a survey of its members that many of them still are receiving inconsistent service, forcing some to curtail production and/or rely more on truck transportation.

CSX CEO James M. Foote met with Begeman on Feb. 1 to discuss CSX service matters and the Board has indicated it will continue to review weekly reports the carriers has been filing since last August.

However, the STB may modify its oversight as soon as April. The STB ramped up its oversight of CSX after service issues became rampant last summer after the railroad moved to the precision scheduled railroading operating model.

The STB might be willing to roll back some of the reporting on performance metrics that it has required of CSX since last summer.

In her letter to the Chemical trade group, Begeman urged shippers who have experienced problems to contact the STB so the problems can be addressed.

Begeman Named Acting STB Chairman

January 26, 2017

President Trump has named Ann D. Begeman to be acting chairman of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Ann Begeman

Ann Begeman

Begeman, a Republican and South Dakota native, is currently serving her second five-year term on the STB, having been re-nominated in December by President Obama and unanimously confirmed by the Senate. That term expires on Dec. 31, 2020.

She initially joined the STB on May 2, 2011, after more than 20 years as a staff member on Capitol Hill.

A news release by the STB that announced Begeman’s appointment said that while working in Senate staff positions she played “ . . . a key role in the crafting of major transportation legislation, including the ICC [Interstate Commerce Commission] Termination Act, which created the STB.”

Among Begeman’s appointment were serving as the Republican staff director for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation under former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and as the committee’s deputy staff director and transportation policy adviser under Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona).

Begeman also served as legislative director and acting chief of staff for McCain and as a legislative assistant for former Senator Larry Pressler (R-South Dakota).

She worked as a benefits specialist for First American Bankshares. Begeman grew up in Humboldt, South Dakota, and earned a B.S. in business administration from the University of South Dakota.

Railway Age reported that Begeman does not want to be permanent chairman and will hold the acting chair title until two more STB members are appointed and confirmed by the Senate.

A 2015 reauthorization of the STB expanded the STB from three to five members. Other current STB members include Democrats Daniel R. Elliott III, the previous chairman, and Deb Miller.

Begeman Renominated to STB

December 9, 2016

A Senate committee has approved by voice vote the nomination by the Obama administration of Ann Begeman to another five-year term on the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. The nomination is expected to be approved today by the full Senate.

Ann Begeman

Ann Begeman

Some Washington observers expect that Begeman will become chair of the STB after the Trump administration takes office next month.

Begeman, a Republican, had seen her term expire on Dec. 31, 2015, but she remained on at the STB as a holdover member. By law, STB members may remain for up a year past the expiration of their term.

The STB currently has two Democrats, Dan Elliott (whose term expires on Dec. 31, 2018) and Deb Miller (whose term expires on Dec. 31, 2017).

The Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015 created two new STB seats, which the Trump administration is expected to fill next year.