HB 300: Corruption Writ Large
KILL HB 300 -- PASS SAFETY NET BILL, HB 1959
Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom
Many changes are outside the scope of conference committee guidelines, and will go “outside the bounds.” In many respects, the conference committee is re-writing parts of this monster bill on the fly…can ANYONE with confidence say they’ve read this bill and know what’s in it?
The anti-taxpayer, anti-reform TxDOT Sunset Bill contains:
- NO Elected leadership at TxDOT (Sec 1.52) - Sunset committee recommendation bites the dust
- Governor can still have commissioners serve in expired terms and skirt advice & consent of Senate
- No Inspector General!
- Removes prohibition on tolling existing highways
- Expands TxDOTs lobbying to allow them to actually lobby for and against specific legislation in direct conflict with Texas Govt Code Chapter 556 anti-lobbying provisions, keeps TxDOT’s STATE level lobbying cloaked as “reports to Legislature and recommended statutory changes”
- KEEPS TRANS TEXAS CORRIDOR ALIVE - Allows TTC-35 & TTC-69 CDAs to remain in effect attempts restrictions to highways and rail, which will still turn Hwy 77 & Hwy 59 into foreign-owned toll roads (moved from Chapter 227 into Chapter 223 of code), excepts out SH 130 from all restrictions (see specifics below)
- ENDS the private toll moratorium & sells our highways to foreign toll operators (CDAs), SB 17 language in the bill, still contains WAIVER so can jump into CDA without following the steps, excepts out a whole list of projects excluded from the new restrictions, including 281
- Contains controversial Revolving Fund (stated intent to raid public employee pension funds to invest in these risky CDA deals). Allows Texas Mobility Funds to be put in Revolving Fund to loan & invest money in toll roads (instead of freeways)
- Allows an increase in speed limits UP TO 85 MPH on the TTC & toll roads (with the intent to lower speed limits on competing free roads like the SH 130 CDA)
- Removes toll entities from ANY restrictions on CDAs that apply to TxDOT, sky’s the limit (p. 16 of side by side)
- Removes many good provisions to prevent conflicts of interest with lobbyists/contractors influencing TxDOT/toll entities and elected officials who appoint the boards of these entities for things they have financial interest in (like disclosing political contributions that may curry favor for a contractor seeking a contract)
- Removed ESSENTIAL funding formula restrictions (201.668) that would take the CLUB out of TxDOT’s hands (replaces with watered down Senate version, Sec. 201.988)
- Weakened the Legislative Oversight Committee (LOC), nixes requirement to move GPA division under LOC - Sunset committee recommendation bites the dust
- Weakens outside management audit, not under control of LOC
- TxDOT’s research program still under its control not under Legislature so any research conducted by TxDOT will be biased in favor of what TxDOT wants it to say - Sunset committee recommendation bites the dust
- Can use Prop 12 bonds for Revolving Fund that grants loans for toll projects!!!! (Raid public pension funds), changes to Subsections (g) and (h), Section 222.005, Transportation Code.
- Expands best value bidding to non-tolled projects meaning taxpayers will NOT pay the lowest price for highways!
- Allows payments to losing bidders to continue (caps at 1/2 percent of total bid (SECTION 4.05. Section 223.203(m))
- Waters down requirement to certify CDAs, no AG signature, removes review by State Auditor! Excepts out some CDAs in progress.
- Removes provisions to reinstate TxDOT to contracts to be investigated by Auditor
- Waters down non-compete prohibition (Sec 1.43)
- Removes 75% elected official mandate for MPOs! Removes requirement that MPOs adopt an ethics policy
- Makes Transportation a utility by municipalities (SECTION 1.24. Subchapter Z, Chapter 311)
- Allows TxDOT to pay for expedited environmental clearance, biases agency w/ oversight in favor of granting clearance
- Removes provision to make TxDOT assess pavement condition and share with planning orgs
- TRZ allows property tax to be used to build roads
- Took out liquidated damages amendment for damage to businesses if extended delay due to construction
- Repeals requirement of public hearing if project goes through a municipality (Sec 3.04, Chapter 203 subchapter B repealed)
- Allows permanent tax increase on vehicle registration imposed in the valley w/o requirement of annual renewal, increase up to $50!
- Creates rail division when can’t even afford to build roads, and prior to statewide rail study being conducted
- Allows TxDOT to spend money on roads NOT on the state hwy system! (SECTION 1.13. Section 201.703) How much sense does this make when we don’t have the money to build the roads that ARE on the state hwy system???
TRANS TEXAS CORRIDOR: CDAs KEEP IT ALIVE (move to new chapter, call it I-69)
Tweaks but doesn't KILL the TTC...
SECTION 2.__. Section 227.034(a), Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows:
(a) A contract for the acquisition, construction, maintenance, or operation of a facility on the Trans-Texas Corridor may not contain a provision that limits or prohibits construction or operation of a highway or other transportation project that is:
(1) included in the project development program, or its successor document, [unified transportation program] of the department in effect at the time the contract is executed;
(2) a project of a local government; or
(3) constructed or operated for the safety of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
SECTION 2.23. (a) The changes in law made by Section 371.151, Transportation Code, as amended by this Article, and Section 371.105, Transportation Code, as added by this Article, apply only to a comprehensive development agreement entered into on or after the effective date of this Act.
(b) A comprehensive development agreement entered into before the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect on the day the agreement was finalized, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose.
All projects in the valley, first leg of TTC-69 still move forward under old code (Sec 26.07)
P. 73 of side by side -
Same as Senate version, but in SECTION 4.03, delete the reference to Section 227.001 in Subsection (2) and add the following language as the last Subsection of Section 223.201, Transportation Code:
(___) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary,
(1) the department's authority to enter into a comprehensive development agreement and any related facility agreement, whether under this section or any other law, shall be limited to highway, road and rail projects, and in no event shall be deemed to extend to projects involving public utilities or any other facility that is not a highway, road or rail facility; and (2) except in connection with any existing rights granted to a private party with respect to the SH 130 project, the department may not charge any fee or grant to a private entity the right to charge or collect any fee in connection with a comprehensive development agreement or any related agreement pursuant to Chapter 227 or any successor law in connection with any facility that is not a highway, road or rail facility, including a public utility facility.
SECTION 4.11. The changes in law made by this Act to Sections 223.201(a), 223.208(e), and 223.208(f), Transportation Code, do not apply to the State Highway 130, Segments 5 and 6 project. An agreement entered into for that project is governed by the law in effect on the date the agreement was entered into, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose.
SECTION 19.__. The changes in law made by this Act to Sections 11.11(j), 25.06(c)(1), and 25.07(c)(1), Tax Code, do not apply to any portion of a facility owned by the Texas Department of Transportation that is part of the SH 130, Segments 5 and 6 project, or to a leasehold or other possessory interest in a facility owned by the Texas Department of Transportation that is part of the SH 130, Segments 5 and 6 project. Those sections, as they existed immediately before the effective date of this Act, are continued in effect for those purposes.
1. Replace SECTION 23.17 with the following language:
SECTION 23.17. Section 370.040, Transportation Code, as added by this Act, does not apply to any segment, extension or expansion of the I-35/SH 130 project within the previously designated Interstate 35 corridor, a segment, extension or expansion of the I-69/US 77 project within the previously designated Interstate 69 corridor, or any project for which the Texas Department of Transportation has entered into a contract to construct the project prior to the effective date of this Act. Such a project, segment, extension or expansion is governed by the law as it existed immediately before the effective date of this Act, and that law is continued in effect for that purpose. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if there is, pursuant to a contract entered into after the effective date of this Act, a transfer of a leasehold interest in, or right to operate and retain revenues from, a project that is not a segment, extension or expansion of the I-35/SH 130 project within the previously designated Interstate 35 corridor or a segment, extension or expansion of the I-69/US 77 project within the previously designated Interstate 69 corridor, and the department does not continue to provide tolling services for the project, Section 370.040 shall apply.
TEXAS TURF is a non-partisan grassroots group of 100,000 Texans defending citizens’ concerns about toll road policy and the Trans Texas Corridor. TURF promotes non-toll transportation solutions.
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