On Tuesday, the Texas House passed it's version of the TxDOT Sunset bill. Not only did it not mirror hardly anything that the Sunset Commission suggested from their almost year-long review of the agency, it was also loaded down with a laundry list of other transportation bills, thus making it an omnibus transportation bill. We, at Texas TURF, had predicted as much midway through the session. Everone should know, that if this thing passes, the tax-paying, traveling public in Texas will never come out of this recession that we find ourselves in today.
Most of you know that I vowed to continue fighting the TTC and TxDOT back in the '06 campaign. I only wish that the people who won those elections in '06 and '08 would also fight like they vowed to do. Instead, most are bowing to inside pressures of special interest groups instead of listening to constituents. If this huge bill is signed into law, as written, every Democrat in the state can flip the “socialist” label upon Texas Republicans!
Texas TURF is a bi-partisian organization that has over 100,000 members statewide. Terri Hall, a republican mother of 7, and myself, formed this organization immediately after the '06 elections. We have worked very hard to convince legislators to listen to the people and reform this rouge agency, TxDOT. However, as a senator's aide put it a couple of weeks ago,”we know that ya'll are right, but you don't have anything to offer.” In other words, without stock options, paid luxury vacations, etc., you and your group are no use to us.
Over the past 3 years, we have testified, on behalf of the people of Texas, at a varity of hearings. Texas Transportation Committee, House and Senate Transportation Committee hearings, and town-hall meetings throughout Texas and the United States, are just a few of the events that have heard our passionate testimonies. In a lot of the legislative hearings, we are treated as “second-class” citizens. Most of you know that I don't take very kindly to that type of behavior.
For almost every day of this legislative session, either Terri or I have been in Austin meeting with legislators and/or testifying to committees. We have testified for some good legislation (eminent domain and some transportation bills) and against many transportation bills. Most of the bills that we support are stuck in committee, and probably won't see the light of day. Most, if not all of the bills that we oppose, are well on their way to becoming law unless people start speaking up.
Perry is controlling all of this with his new transportation aide, that he recently received, on loan, from Ag. Commissioner Todd Staples. His aide is commonly seen in the house and senate transportation committee offices delivering messages from 39%. Consequently, the committees have been bowing to his pressure. Perry's main allies in the leg. are Sen. John Corona (R-Dallas)(chair of the Senate Transportation Committee), Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), Sen. Steve Ogden (R-College Station), Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio), Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso)(chair of the House Transportation Committee) and Rep. Wayne Smith (R-Houston).
All of these, along with others, have offered legislation that would continue to allow TxDOT to operate unrestrained. Continuation of CDA's and PPP's without regulation and oversite (Nichols/Carona), the creation of a “Transportation Bank” (Corona/Ogden), tolling of existing free roadways (Nichols), local-option taxation (Corona/Wentworth/Truitt), continuation of payments to losing bidders (Corona, Nichols), and leaving the Texas Transportation Commission to remain a 5-member board appointed by the Governor(3), Lt. Governor(1) and the Speaker(1), even though 76% of the people polled by the Sunset Committee preferred a single, ELECTED commissioner!
Good bills have been filed, by our own David Leibowitz of San Antonio, that would end the TTC and all enabling legislation and programs, along with a bill that would end tolling of existing highways. In committee, NO ONE testified against either bill, yet Chairman Pickett will not allow either bill to be voted out of committee and get to the floor for a vote.
We need your help! We need people from all over the state emailing, calling and faxing the leg. demanding that they stop the expanding of TxDOT, and that they vote to rein in this agency. We demand an end to the Republican-led socialization of Texas! We also need help in developing a legislative “score card or fact sheet” on each of these members that can be used against them in their districts for the 2010 election cycle. Without this, be prepared to re-write your own personal budgets allowing for a “transportation allowance” that will be needed to travel anywhere in our great state. Unfortunately, a large portion of Texans don't have those funds available.