Sunday, March 29, 2009

"And you thought the scammers were all on Wall Street."

SB 220: Texas Senate Gets Punked


Half Empty
Copyright 2009

When the Texas Senate sat down to consider Senate Bill 220, a bill “relating to the conversion of a nontolled state highway or segment of the state highway system to a toll project” you have to wonder what they were thinking.

Clearly from the wording, this bill seeks to create toll roads out of roads that were built with taxpayer dollars, and used by the taxpayers for free.

But that’s not what its author, Texas State Senator Robert Nichols claimed.

In fact, Nichols claimed the bill would do just the opposite, which would allay the fears of Texans that “the roads they drive on this year will not have toll booths on them next year.”

Not true, says TURF, or Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom. a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public on Texas’s new shift to tolling. TURF is one of the organizations that stood up and educated the public on the evils of the Trans Texas Corridor, a project that has since been killed by an almost universal public loathing from folks of any political stripe.

From TURF’s website:

“SB 220 authored by Senator Robert Nichols actually opens a NEW loophole that would allow existing highway lanes to be tolled and the free lanes to be subsequently downgraded to access roads. This bill would legalize the conversions of at least three highways: 281 N and 1604 in Bexar County and 290 E in Travis County. SB 220 passed the Senate 31-0 despite citizen concerns, TURF testimony, and our action alert notifying EVERY single senator of this problem.”

“‘It's an outrage that the author of this bill, Senator Nichols, is out there touting that he's ended the tolling of existing highways, and he knows his bill does just the opposite! He's an ex-Transportation Commissioner who not only was involved in writing the first bill to address tolls on existing highways that had the original loopholes back in 2005 (SB 2702), but also he was present when Governor Perry signed the contract with Cintra for the Trans Texas Corridor, and he has plenty of ties to and funding from the highway lobby. He knows exactly what he's doing. The leopard is showing his spots,’ explains Terri Hall TURF Founder.”

So all 31 state senators swallowed Nichols’s story hook, line and sinker and voted for it after having considered it for all of 2 minutes.

And you thought the scammers were all on Wall Street.

© 2009 Half Empty:

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