Monday, May 23, 2005

The Latest On HB 2702

HB 2702, the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) clean-up bill of HB 3588 from the last legislature, has passed the Senate and is headed to conference committee. Here are the main sticking points:
Because the Senate-passed measure contains different wording and provisions than the version approved earlier by the House, the legislation now goes to a conference committee to resolve the differences.

The Senate version:

* Would require a public vote for all conversions of existing roads to toll roads.

* Would remove the ability of the state to purchase land on the Trans-Texas Corridor and use it for a garage, store, restaurant or hotel. The House version would continue to allow such uses.

* Would require that gas stations and convenience stores on the Trans-Texas Corridor be in the median, not outside the lanes, and be no closer than five miles from regular entrances or exits.

* Would require state or local governments to regulate toll rates, rather than granting that authority to private toll road concessionaires. The conference committee probably will be led by Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, and Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, the sponsors of the House and Senate versions.
On those points above this bill appears to make some improvements to the TTC -- which has nothing to do with whether or not this project should exist, it's just making a bad bill better -- and Rep. Krusee seems to have caved and will allow public votes on conversions, the house engrossed version had this:
The bill would require the approval of the county commissioners and the voters of affected counties before TxDOT could convert to a non-tolled state highway into a tolled highway.
Don't think it's over, the bill that passed the Senate looks OK. But what the final bill will look like still depends on who gets on that committee and what decisions they decide. Comments anyone?

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