"The fate of the House amendments remains uncertain."
By MICHAEL A. LINDENBERGER
Dallas Morning News
The Texas House today resumes debate on a bill to restructure the state Department of Transportation.
After debating more than 100 amendments to the bill last night, the House adjourned just before midnight.
Plans to vote for all the amendments at once, then let members read them afterwards, were scuttled after several lawmakers objected.
House leaders say the remaining amendments to the TxDOT bill are not controversial and should be approved.
With passage of the restructuring bill likely, it has become a sort of catch-all for transportation reform measures. Several bills that failed at the committee level, or got no committee hearing at all, have resurfaced as successful amendments to the present bill.
One example is a measure to freeze the number of red-light cameras in Texas cities at the current level. In addition, cities that use the cameras would be required to add one second to the duration of yellow lights.
The legislation would abolish the Texas Transportation Commission and create a legislative oversight committee to monitor TxDOT, which has 14,000 employees.
If the House approves the bill, it goes next to the Senate.
Unless the two chambers passed identical versions -- which is exceedingly unlikely -- the differences would be resolved in a conference committee later this month.
That means the fate of the House amendments remains uncertain.
But for now, the legislation has become what Transportation Commission chairwoman Deirdre Delisi predicted it would: a "Christmas tree" upon which legislators are hanging all sorts of transportation-related initiatives.
© 2009 The Dallas Morning News: www.dallasnews.com
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