Friday, May 15, 2009

Legislative update--some Corridor and Rail bills

The deadline for the House to pass House bills was reached at midnight last night. If a representative’s legislation was not passed by then, it is dead, unless the representative can attach it, or pieces of it, to appropriate Senate legislation.

An update on some bills we have been following:

HJR 29 by Elkins proposes a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to override a veto of the governor following a legislative session, thus making sure that the governor can’t solely override the will of the people and their legislators after a session—too late for the veto to be overridden, no matter how many votes it might have--which is what happened to eminent domain legislation in the 2007 session. HJR easily passed the House and is on the calendar for a second vote by the Senate on Monday, May 18. Hope this amendment passes and is put on the ballot for us to vote on.

SB 1923 by Watson would use certain fees to put money into the Texas Rail Relocation Fund. Since many of the officials and lobbyists who want to fund rail relocation want to expand the rail line through Coupland or build a new big route through the Coupland area, I hope this bill does not pass the Senate. It is on the Senate calendar for second reading.

HB 2142 by McClendon would prohibit TxDOT from using taxpayer money to promote the Trans-Texas Corridor and other toll roads. You may remember the annoying multi-million- dollar Keep Texas Moving advertising campaign. TxDOT also used our money for lobbying for toll roads. This campaign resulted in TxDOT being sued by TURF—case still pending. HB 2142, which forbids such campaigns, has passed the House and heads to the Senate, where the same legislation (by Sen. Carona) has already passed. Looks promising for this good legislation.

HB 300, the large TxDOT Sunset Bill that passed the House WITH an amendment repealing the Trans-Texas Corridor has gone to the Senate, where it is scheduled for a public hearing on May 18, in Transportation & Homeland Security Committee. Pundits are saying that the final form of HB 300 will be determined by the upcoming House and Senate conference committee.

Thanks to Martha Estes for helping us follow what is going on at the Capitol.

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