Monday, April 20, 2009

TURF Bill Tracker for 2009 session

Texans Uniting for Reform & Freedom:

Bad Bills:

SB 855/HB 9 - (Carona/Truitt) "Local option" tax hike bill with a whole menu of transportation taxes (congestion tax, charge by mile tax, and even a tax on parking spaces!), which has a trigger that hijacks the Constitutional Amendment to END gas diversions so this tax bill automatically takes effect if the voters vote to end diversions...the epitome of sneaky government...give us something we don't want (litany of new taxes on everything that moves) to get what we do want (ending diversions from the gas tax)

SB 404/HB 1557 - (Carona/Smith) NO WAY! Extends private toll contracts that sell-off our highways to the highest bidder.

SB 220 - (Nichols) Would create a NEW loophole to convert existing freeways to tollways & legalize the theft of 281, 1604, 290, 59 and more.

SB 17/HB 2929 - (Nichols/Smith) Window dressing as an excuse to re-authorize private toll contracts (PPPs), allows non-compete agreements to guarantee congestion on free roads, and the steps can be waived by all the parties to pass go and jump precipitously to PPPs (Sec 373.057). The way this is structured, if the public toll entity like an RMA cannot get the financing together (or the bonding capacity together which is already happening all over the state), they'd have to pass a toll project to TxDOT and then TxDOT could hand it to the private developer, especially to use private funds to subsidize a toll project that can't stand on its own feet (that isn't 100% toll viable) (Sec 373.054). So this section ultimately doesn't give the public protection, but shows TxDOT they can just wait it out, until they get possession of the project and then they can hand it to the private companies.

SB 1669 - Allows RMAs to sell bonds (borrow money) to pay back other debt (borrowed money) Sec 370.071 & Sec 370.113 (4). It also allows them to steal from one segment/corridor (ie - 281) and use the proceeds to fund another a segment that can't work on it's own (ie - 1604)...we shouldn't EVER subsidize a LOSING project! It allows them to participate in the state travel program (which the Attorney General states has been habitually abused by TxDOT), to form a corporation to "promote and develop transportation projects" (to fund toll projects & invest in these private toll sweetheart deals). Sec 371.051 (a) allows them to use motor vehicle registration and license plate info to "develop" a toll project which crosses the line from travel demand modeling into raiding people's personal information and is tantamount to government data-mining!

SB 216 - throws in the creation of an infrastructure bank (defeated last session) into a gas tax diversion bill (which he knows will pass), that would "encourage public and private investment in transportation facilities both inside and outside the state highway system....and maximize private investment participation in financing projects"

SB 882 - Then, Carona lifts the $250,000 cap on payments to LOSING BIDDERS on toll road projects in a bill on toll collection! They say there's no money for roads, and yet they've got money to pay road contractors even when they DON'T build the road! He may have stripped this out with a substitute, but I haven't seen the final version.

SJR 9/HJR 9 - (Carona/Truitt) This started as a bill to increase the gas tax by indexing it to inflation, and it was also to end diversions from the gas tax, now this bill is tied to the local option tax hikes in SB 855. The original version doesn't specify what index would be used, which would likely mean the highway cost index (which is highly manipulated by the industry) instead of the lower Consumer Price Index. Indexing the gas tax is an automatic tax hike for infinity!

HB 1815 - (Isett) Creates a WHOLE state agency to just write public-private partnership contracts! ABSOLUTELY NOT!

SB 502 - (Carona) Skirts federally required steps in the environmental review process to expedite toll roads over public opposition

HB 300/SB 1019 - (Isett/Hegar) The TxDOT Sunset bill needs to be changed. Abolishes the current appointed Transportation Commission and replaces it with a SINGLE APPOINTED commissioner instead of a SINGLE ELECTED commissioner. It also MANDATES TxDOT enhance it's own revenues through "private investment" (ie - selling off our public roads) and tolling.

Good Bills:

HB 11 - (Leibowitz) To repeal the Trans Texas Corridor

HB 15 - (Leibowitz) To mandate only ELECTED officials cast votes on toll roads on local transportation boards

HB 13 - (Leibowitz) To truly end tolls on existing roads (not Nichols' counterfeit bill,SB 220, that actually opens a new loophole)

HB 4205 - (Harper-Brown) To stop TxDOT's taxpayer-funded lobbying and marketing campaigns

HB 4514 - (Coleman) To ensure non-toll options are studied fully

HB 565 - (McClendon) Single ELECTED commissioner to head TxDOT

HB 2557/SB 2158- (Harper-Brown/Shapiro) Ends mandate to do tolls first

HB 1047 - (Deshotel) End diversions from the gas tax (without the added tax hikes like HB 9/HJR 9)

HB 1483/SB 18 - (Pitts/Estes) To protect landowners from eminent domain abuse (requires good faith offers from the State, gives compensation for diminished access to a landowner's property, and a prohibition on eminent domain for economic development)

We support bills to prohibit toll/traffic offense databases & govt data-mining

© 2009 TURF:

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