Saturday, May 19, 2007

"Amendment 13 is 'Do or Die' for TTC-35."

Have We Been Sold Out? Afraid So!


Copyright 2007

By the time you read this the Governor's office may have already out maneuvered us all by effectively removing Trans Texas Corridor TTC-35 from any moratorium limitations in the pending bill, SB792.

The Governor's office has targeted seven House amendments for removal.

Things are moving so fast there may be no time for anyone outside a small circle of key legislators to impact the outcome. By Monday it is likely that Governor Perry will have his way and the citizens of Texas will have been sold out at the highest levels of it's State Government.

The Governor's representatives Kris Heckmann and former Senator Kenneth Armbrister arrived to visit Texas senators shortly after 11:00am Friday morning. About that same time a three page analysis/summary of SB792 amendments, reportedly prepared by Kris Heckman, was circulating among Senators.

CorridorWatch has been told that seven amendments have been targeted by the Governor's office for removal. Among those are one by Pickett [6] effecting the El Paso RMA; one by Callegari [12] they believe was misdrafted; three by Kolkhorst [13, 15, & 16] effecting TTC35, CDA penalty payment funds, and a prohibition of investment firms being on both sides of a CDA; one by Quintanilla [22] a county contract provision; and, one by Y. Davis [27] requiring land taken by condemnation be offered back to the owner if unused.

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst met on the floor of the Senate Friday morning with Senators Williams, Carona, and Nichols in an apparent attempt to convince Nichols to agree with removal of the offending amendments (Nichols has since been named to the Conference Committee). It is widely believed that Nichols is unlikely to agree with efforts to weaken the bill.

It was Dewhurst who forced SB792 in to play in the first place thereby making his intent to yield to the Governor's wishes very clear. As expected the Senate members named to the conference committee are stacked in favor of producing the Governor's desired outcome. With only three votes out of five required it is unlikely that Nichols will find enough support among the other conferees to preserve the moratorium or other amendments.

You may recall Austin political insiders predicted that the legislature would fold under the Governors' pressure. We had given them more credit, but that may prove to be sorely undeserved.

Conference Committee Members.

  • Senator Tommy Williams, Chair 512.463.0104
  • Senator John Carona 512.463.0116
  • Senator Eliot Shapleigh 512.463.012
  • Senator Kim Brimer 512.463.0110
  • Senator Robert Nichols 512.463.0103
  • Representative Wayne Smith 512.463.0733
  • Representative (to be announced)
  • Representative (to be announced)
  • Representative (to be announced)
  • Representative (to be announced)
House Conference Committee members will not be formally named until Monday. But that doesn't mean that Rep. Smith hasn't got them picked and begun the process of looking at the bill language the Governor expects them to agree on.

CorridorWatch has been told that Senate conferees will start meeting today, Saturday. And word has it that Senator Carona will start 'visiting with likely House conferees' this weekend as well.

Anything can happen in conference, but this time the sheet music has been supplied by the Lt. Governor and the Governor is calling the tune.

CorridorWatch was wrong!

Have you heard that HB1892 won't effect TTC-35? We had, and we thought that it was a load of baloney. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Now we know it and they know we know it.

There is no question that it was always the clear legislative intent of HB1892 and SB792 to stop TxDOT from proceeding with any TTC facility construction during the two-year moratorium. Everyone knew that including the Governor and TxDOT and yet they let the legislature believe that these bills would do that. In fact the Governor went on record saying that he would sign the moratorium.

Amendment 13 to SB792 offered by Kolkhorst closes a moratorium loophole in HB1892 by including TTC-35 CDA facility agreements. The only exception would be Loop 9. Representatives Anderson, Bohac, Darby, Miles, Miller and Zerwas joined Kolkhorst as coauthors of this amendment.

If only one amendment survives the Conference Committee it needs to be Amendment 13.

Amendment 13 is "Do or Die" for TTC-35.

It is no surprise that Kolkhorst amendment 13 is on the Governor's hit list. If we are to have an enforceable moratorium on the TTC, we must have amendment 13 remain on SB792.

Amendment 16 is just good business practice.

Rep. Kolkhorst also doesn't think that the financial advisor who develops the market valuation for a project (for the toll authority or TxDOT) should also advise the company that will finance, build, develop or operated a TxDOT toll project. This is another amendment that is targeted for removal.

This and other amendments also have merit, but we can't save the world, and were not too sure we can save ourselves from the Trans Texas Corridor.

Once again we ask,

Will Our Senators and Representatives Continue Standing-Up For the People of Texas?

© 2007 CorridorWatch:

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