Saturday, March 10, 2007

100 House votes needed to put Kolkhorst’s bill into immediate effect and override Gov. Perry's veto

10th in a series

Pitts backs TTC limits

March 10, 2007

The Waxahachie Daily Light
Copyright 2007

State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, has signed on as co-author of a bill that would have an immediate impact on the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor if passed.

“This legislation has the best success of coming out of this Legislature,” Pitts said of state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst’s House Bill 2772. “It will put a moratorium on the Trans-Texas Corridor and get some answers to a lot of people’s questions.”

Pitts said he also is looking into legislation that would address related issues with eminent domain proceedings.

Several thousand people from across the state recently visited the Capitol, attending a public hearing held by the state Sen. John Carona, R- Dallas, chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, as well as a rally on the Capitol steps.

Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, was joined by fellow state Reps. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, and Nathan Macias, R-Bulverde, in addressing the crowd on hand for the rally March 2. She said she was filing legislation that would receive bipartisan support - and as of Friday, 61 representatives had signed on her bill from both sides of the aisle.

HB2772 calls for an immediate halt to any further public-private partnerships or comprehensive development agreements. The bill would also enact a two-year moratorium on such agreements and create a study group to look at the issue.

In the Legislature’s other body, state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, is carrying a companion bill, Senate Bill 1267.

Twenty-four other senators, including Sen. Kip Averitt, R-McGregor, whose district includes Ellis County, have signed on as co-authors of the bill, which would provide the two-thirds vote necessary to put the bill’s provisions into immediate effect as well as indicate the ability to override any gubernatorial veto.

At least 100 votes would be required in the House to put Kolkhorst’s bill into immediate effect and also give it the ability to override an expected veto by Gov. Rick Perry, whose signature transportation project is the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The Kolkhorst and Nichols bills join numerous other pieces of legislation filed this session relating to the Trans-Texas Corridor, tolling of public roadways and other transportation-related issues.

In a press release earlier this week, the citizen-based group San Antonio Toll Party described Nichols’ bill and the support it has garnered as demonstrating “a total repudiation of Gov. Rick Perry’s transportation policies.”

Complaints against the Trans-Texas Corridor have ranged from loss of farm and ranch land that has been in families for generations to loss of livelihood, as well as economic devastation for rural Texas. Many people have expressed fears their communities will be bypassed and or cut off by the transportation project that could - if built out completely - include 8,000 miles of roadway criss-crossing the state. Opponents to the project say thousands of acres would be taken from property owners in eminent domain proceedings.

Concerns also have been raised in Texas as to whether or not Perry’s plan is part of a greater plan that would seek to bring about a North American Union comprised of the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor plan would encompass not only lanes for passenger vehicles, but would also bundle lanes for large rigs, freight rail, passenger rail and other utility easements into a bundle that would be 1,200 feet wide.

Texas isn’t the only state seeing opposition within its citizenry relating to transportation projects such as proposed by Perry’s massive transportation plan. Other states are seeing their residents raise concerns that the Trans-Texas Corridor is a harbinger of a potential North American Union they say would result in the loss of U.S. sovereignty. reports 12 statehouses to date have seen legislation filed in opposition to United States participation in a North American Union and a President Bush-supported Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America that has linked the three nations.

The measures filed in the other states - Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington - is in various stages of the legislative process in the respective states. Several of the pieces of legislation indicate opposition to “superhighways.”

The Illinois legislation, HJ0029, notes, “Whereas Congressman Ron Paul has written that a key to the SPP plan is an extensive new NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) superhighway under this new ‘partnership,’ a massive highway is being planned to stretch from Canada into Mexico, through the state of Texas … .”

The Montana legislation, HJR25, notes its opposition to a NAFTA superhighway, citing concerns of loss of control of U.S. borders, insurance issues with foreign drivers, increased smuggling opportunities and lack of inspection.

“Whereas a NAFTA superhighway system from the west coast of Mexico through the United States and into Canada has been suggested as part of North American Union and the broader plan to advance the Security and Prosperity Partnership … (and) whereas, a NAFTA superhighway system would be funded by foreign consortiums and controlled by foreign management, which threatens the sovereignty of the United States … (and) whereas, state and local governments throughout the United States would be negatively impacted by the Security and Prosperity Partnership or a North American Union process, such as an open borders vision, eminent domain takings of private property along potential superhighways and increased law enforcement problems along such superhighways … ,” are among issues cited by the Montana House joint resolution.

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