Monday, May 14, 2007

Texas Senate Ditches HB 1892

Highlights Monday from the Texas Legislature

May 14, 2007

The Associated Press
Copyright 2007

AUSTIN — Hoping to avoid a veto override fight and a special legislative session, the Texas Senate unanimously approved a proposal Monday that aims to address the governor's concerns with a sweeping transportation bill.

The bill is similar to one lawmakers sent Gov. Rick Perry last week, with more exemptions to the two-year moratorium on most new privately financed toll road projects.

Among the newly exempted projects is the development of the Interstate 69 corridor in the Rio Grande Valley. South Texas officials had loudly protested the original bill, saying it could derail a project that is vital to the region's development.

The compromise bill would still tighten controls on comprehensive development agreements, used in contracts for private-public road building. But the agreements could last up to 50 years, instead of the 40 years included in the original legislation.

The compromise also would change provisions for local participation in the building of toll roads.

"This bill is a significant improvement over what we had done in House Bill 1892, and I think House Bill 1892 was a good bill," said Sen. John Carona, a Republican from Dallas who chairs the Senate transportation committee.

The bill now goes to the House. If that chamber adopts the bill without changing it, the legislation could go straight to the governor's desk. If the bill is amended in the House, a committee of lawmakers from both chambers would meet to work out the differences.

The transportation bill is HB1892. The compromise bill is SB792.

© 2007 The Associated Press:

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