What is the history of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC)?
Why a compact?
How long has the MIPRC been in existence?
Who is eligible to join the MIPRC? How do they?
How often does the MIPRC meet?
Who attends these meetings?
What can I do to help promote passenger rail development in the Midwest?
In 1995 and 1996, state legislators across the region wanted to do something to further the development of high speed rail in the region. They asked the Midwestern Legislative Conference for help. The MLC formed a task force of interested legislators, who first met in December of 1996. Over the course of time and many discussions, amongst themselves and with federal, other state, and local officials, members of the private sector and advocacy groups, the task force decided that a compact among the Midwestern states was the best way for state elected officials to help spur better passenger rail service in the region. The Compact language was developed during 1998 and 1999, and first introduced in 2000.
Intercity passenger rail development is usually a multi-state pursuit. The MIPRC brings the strength of elected state officials (the legislature and the executive branch, through the governor) in each state to bear. And, united among states, we are even stronger.
Because compacts must be passed by an eligible state’s legislature, and signed by the governor, with identical language in each state, the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact brings structure and legitimacy to multi-state advocacy for passenger rail by state elected officials.
Typically, a certain number of states must join a compact before it goes into effect. The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact specified three. In 2000, three states passed the compact language: Indiana (with the governor’s signature on March 17, 2000), Minnesota on May 11, and Missouri on June 27 of that year. When these three states passed the compact language, a commission to carry out the compact’s objectives came into being: the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission.
The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission held its organizational meeting in January of 2001.
Midwestern states are eligible to join the MIPRC. The MIPRC is a compact agreement, and the language of the compact must be passed into law in an eligible state before a state can become a participating member. Four state leaders from each state are then appointed to the commission: two gubernatorial appointments (the governor or his/her designee, and member of the private sector) and a member from each legislative chamber.
The majority of the eligible states – Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin – have joined the MIPRC and are active members.
To achieve the most effectiveness, the MIPRC hopes that the one remaining state – South Dakota – will join. MIPRC commissioners promote the whole region, but don’t have the same access in non-compact states as they do in those that have joined.
The compact language specifies that the MIPRC must meet at least once a year. The next meeting of the commission is scheduled for June 14-15, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
While the four appointed commissioners from each state are the primary attendees, and the only ones with the power to approve MIPRC policy, from the beginning the MIPRC has worked closely with allies from across the region and the nation. In fact, one of the primary purposes of the compact is to “coordinate interaction among Midwestern state officials, and among the public and private sector at all levels” (federal, state and local). Allies are always welcome at MIPRC meetings, and many accompany commissioners during their visits to Members of Congress.
Interested legislators and agency officials in our member states can contact MIPRC's director, Laura Kliewer, and she will let you know what avenues are available in your state and through the commission, including receiving e-mail alerts from MIPRC.
If you are a state legislator who lives in an eligible state that hasn’t yet joined the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact (South Dakota), contact MIPRC director Laura Kliewer for more information on joining the compact.
If you aren’t a legislator, talk with your state legislators about the importance of passenger rail development to the region. You can also join our "MIPRC Allies" e-mail list.
Also, become involved at the local, state, regional and national level. Every state has an association of rail passenger advocates that you can join. Find your association at www.narprail.org (go to links, then “citizen rail groups").