"Efforts to toll newly constructed lanes would not be prohibited in Hutchison’s amendment."
November 9, 2007
Waxahachie Daily Light
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, a member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations subcommittee, joined Thursday with five members of the Texas Congress-ional delegation, Democrat Reps. Chet Edwards, Ciro Rodriguez, Charlie Gonzalez and Nick Lampson and Republican Rep. Kay Granger to overcome opposition which threatened an amendment to ban the tolling of interstate highways in Texas.
Their collective efforts resulted in the amendment remaining part of the fiscal year 2008 THUD Appropriations bill, which was reported out of conference Thursday night.
The conference report is expected to pass both houses of Congress.
“Today, we are one step closer to protecting Texas taxpayers from paying twice for a federal highway,” Hutchison said. “I will continue working with my colleagues to push for a permanent prohibition of tolling existing federal highways.”
“Using toll roads to double-tax Texans is just plain wrong,” Rodriguez said. “I am very pleased that the final Transportation conference agreement contains an anti-tolling provision for federal highways in Texas.
“The citizens of Texas have spoken and they do not want the federal highways they have already paid for to be converted into toll roads,” he said. “Working with Sen. Hutchison, we put progress over politics for the benefit of Texas.”
On Sept. 12, the Senate passed the Hutchison amendment that protects Texas taxpayers by placing a one-year moratorium on tolling existing federal highways in Texas. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, cosponsored Hutchison’s stand-alone bill.
Efforts to toll newly constructed lanes or new highways would not be prohibited in Hutchison’s amendment that passed the Senate or in S. 2019 or H.R. 3510.
“We could not have emerged victorious tonight if all six of us had not banded together and fought for this amendment together,” Hutchison said in a statement Thursday evening. “I sincerely thank Congresswoman Granger and Congressmen Edwards, Rodriguez, Gonzalez and Lampson for their hard work on this issue.
“Our Texas delegation was united on this issue and everyone pitched in to achieve this victory for Texas taxpayers,” Hutchison said. “We are moving forward with legislation that will ban the tolling of interstate highways in Texas until at least Sept. 30, 2008, and we will continue pushing for a permanent ban.”
In February, the Texas Department of Transportation released its legislative agenda in a report called “Forward Momentum,” which seeks changes in federal law that would allow such buybacks for the purpose of tolling interstate highways.
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