Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"It’s painfully obvious... nothing will change until TxDOT, Perry, Carona, and Nichols have the keys to Texas transportation taken away from them."

HB 300, the TxDOT Sunset bill, needs to


Eye on Williamson
Copyright 2009

The Texas Legislature has done nothing to fix the transportation mess our state is in this session. In fact they’re attempt at it is so bad it would be much better if they hadn’t even tried. Here’s McBlogger’s take:

HB 300, the TXDOT sunset bill, has been so larded up with bull@$%& in the Senate that the damn thing is even worse than what we have now. In short, it’ll turn TXDOT into an uncontrollable monster thanks to Sen. Nichols (who has been lying to anyone who’ll listen that it’s killing toll roads), Sen. Carona and Sen. Ogden.

So, the House has got to kill it. Please contact your State Representative (lookup here) as soon as possible. Ask them to vote for the TXDOT safety net bill, NOT HB 300.

We have real transportation problems that need real solutions. HB 300 just creates more problems.

This from a TexasTURF email blast which pretty much says it all:


Monday night, an amendment authored by Senator Glenn Hegar was slipped into the TxDOT Sunset bill, HB 300, that authorizes all the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) contracts called CDAs (for both TTC-35 & TTC-69) to continue. It also says no provision, restrictions, or “protections” in HB 300 apply to it, despite the repeal of the actual TTC language from the code. Senator Hegar assured Senator Dan Patrick on the floor that the TTC is dead, then slips in this floor amendment that deliberately allows it to continue!

Senator Robert Nichols, who brokered the backroom deal to make it happen, sent a press release all over the state claiming he voted to abolish the TTC, when he and others did just the opposite! HB 300 is now over 1,000 pages long with little time left in the session to read it or know what’s in it, much less to be able to strip out all the bad provisions. HB 300 now goes to conference committee where 5 members of the House and 5 members of the Senate will hash out what stays in and what goes. The session ends Monday, June 1. Strong eminent domain reform died in the House yesterday.

HB 300 abandoned the original Sunset committee recommendations long ago, and it’s been loaded up with some horrific provisions like:

-Selling our highways to foreign toll operators (CDAs)
-Continuing the Trans Texas Corridor
-New loophole to toll existing freeways
-Raiding public employee retirement funds to invest in these risky CDA deals
-Up to a 10 cent gas tax hike (without ending gas tax diversions or any meaningful reform of TxDOT!)
-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)
-Adding license plate cameras on state highways

Add to that, Speaker Joe Straus from San Antonio did not name either Rep. David Leibowitz or Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (who carried and fought for many of our GOOD amendments in the House version of HB 300) as one of the 5 conferees from the House who will decide which amendments stay in and which ones are stripped from the bill.

This bill simply has too much baggage for taxpayers to choke down, so we need to KILL HB 300. The Legislature can pass what’s called a safety net bill that will push TxDOT’s Sunset to next session. At this point, we don’t want a special session on TxDOT, because no meaningful reform of TxDOT is possible as long as Rick Perry still holds a veto pen.

It’s become painfully obvious that nothing will change until all of TxDOT, Perry, Carona, and Nichols have the keys to Texas transportation taken away from them. Call your elected officials and tell them to vote NO on HB 300.

[UPDATE]: Senators sent a letter [.pdf] to members of the house asking them to support the local option tax. It included this paragraph about those who have been holding their feet to the fire.

This session, Senate Bill 855 has been at the forefront of discussion. Certain conservative groups and bloggers have relentlessly mischaracterized and misled members into believing facts that are simply not true. Several of the concepts from Senate Bill 855 have now been added to House Bill 300 (TxDOT Sunset) and it will be up to you to do what is right for the urban regions of the state and support this important concept.

Facts that are simply not true? How Orwellian. Here are some of those untrue facts.

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