HB 300 update: VICTORY #1 comes with a sting

HB 300 Update

VICTORY #1 comes with a sting

GOOD NEWS:
NO TOLLS ON EXISTING ROADS, REPEAL OF TRANS TEXAS CORRIDOR, and ELECTED LEADERSHIP at TxDOT GET IN THE BILL!

BAD NEWS:
PRIVATE TOLL CONTRACTS SNUCK INTO BILL WHEN HALF THE HOUSE ABSENT!

SEE URGENT ACTION ITEM BELOW

Here’s how it happened…

First, Rep. Jose Menendez of San Antonio withdrew his amendment to re-authorize the private toll contracts (CDAs) that sell our highways to foreign corporations & another BAD amendment involving CDAs by Wayne Smith of Baytown was also withdrawn during debate last night. There were actually three amendments to re-authorize private toll contracts and END the moratorium Texans demanded and they are: Rep. Jose Menendez of San Antonio, Rep. Stephen Frost of Atlanta, and Rep. Larry Phillips.

Last night when the majority of HB 300 was heard, the author of the bill, Rep. Carl Isett said that private toll contracts (CDAs) would be dealt with in committee next week, so House members thought disaster was averted. Then, this morning when they took up the rest of the bill with what was dubbed the non-controversial stuff, when half the House wasn’t even on the floor, Phillips got his amendment voted through, without a recorded vote, without a whimper of opposition totally under the radar!

WE MUST STRIP Phillips’ CDA sweetheart deals OUT ON THIRD READING OF THE BILL, HB 300, Monday!

THE GOOD NEWS:
Thanks to your calls and emails, we prevailed on many GOOD key battles against the BIG MONEY & lobbyists who have wined and dined our legislators for nearly a decade to swindle Texans into these sweetheart deals (while they laugh all the way to the bank). A HUGE hats off to the leadership of Rep. David Leibowitz of San Antonio and Rep. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham for leading the charge to get these MAJOR amendments into HB 300. Texans owe them a HUGE debt of gratitude. They never faltered, they never wavered, they are true Texas HEROES of our cause! But this is just the first step. WE MUST STRIP OUT Phillips’ private toll contract provision that sell our highways to the highest bidder UPON THIRD READING OF THE HOUSE BILL, HB 300, Monday!

Hang in there with us to see this through…

We’re still sorting through all the various amendments, but the other BIG news is we changed the HORRIBLE loophole-laden language and amended HB 300 with a BULLET-PROOF prohibition on tolling existing roads! We’ve fought hard for 4 years (some of our folks in Austin have been fighting for going on 5 years) to FINALLY resolve this nightmare! We’re on the edge of REAL victory. So stick with us!

Then, we also got a complete REPEAL of the Trans Texas Corridor into HB 300 (though Joe Pickett tried to strip it back out in a sneaky amendment). It’s nothing short of a MIRACLE! On top of that, we managed to get ELECTED leadership at TxDOT! Though not a single elected commissioner, the consensus was behind Rep. Leibowitz’ amendment to ELECT 14 REGIONAL commissioners and one statewide commissioner to run TxDOT. THAT IS AN ENORMOUS VICTORY for accountability and reform of this rogue agency!

Several of our other amendments also got in and some were withdrawn or tabled. HB 300 is a 200 page bill that had 166 proposed amendments, so when we get all the adopted amendments sorted out, y’all will be the first to know.

WE MUST FIGHT TO KEEP OUR AMENDMENTS IN THIS BILL!
HB 300 needs to survive a third reading in the House then…Next up, the Senate!

The Dallas/Ft. Worth delegation is in abject panic over the Leibowitz amendment prohibiting tolls on existing roads. They fear 820, 635, and others won’t be able to move forward if the bill passes with his amendment. So there will still be a battle on the third reading of the bill, with North Texas legislators likely trying to carve out specific projects from the prohibition on tolling existing highways. So our folks in DFW had better flood your legislators with calls to have your voices heard.

Senators to the PEOPLE: “You won’t get your amendments”…
Then, the REAL fight will be in the Senate where Senator John Carona told me pointblank at the beginning of the session that we the people would NOT get elected leadership at TxDOT, period! He also rammed private toll contracts (CDAs) through the Senate. In addition, Senator Robert Nichols told me that only HIS loophole-laden version of the bill dealing with tolling existing roads would pass this session.

What’s at stake…
So get those phones ringing and keep them ringing! If we don’t KILL CDAs, foreign corporations will have the power to control EVERY MILE WE DRIVE for a half century at a time! The deals already in the works will cost the average commuter over $3,000 a YEAR in new toll taxes. If we don’t GET a REAL ban on tolling existing highways and get stuck with Nichols’ loopholes, our freeways will be converted to tollways unabated!

CALL NOW!

Call your state legislators and tell them NO CDAs & keep the Leibowitz version of no tolls on existing roads! We will NOT accept their cow dung in order to get our good amendments!

Repeat this message…

1) No private toll contracts that sell our highways to foreign corporations (strip Phillips sneaky amendment to extend these contracts that end the moratorium!)
2) YES to Leibowitz’ version of BAN on tolling existing roads (freeway to tollway conversions, a HUGE double tax rip-off)
3) No Trans Texas Corridor
4) YES to elected leadership at TxDOT

Find your state legislators here.

Call the Capitol switchboard (512) 463-4630 between 8 AM – 5 PM. To reach your legislators after 5 pm or over the weekend, get his/her direct phone numbers here

You can also email your state legislators by using this formula:

Plug in the name of your STATE Representative to: firstname.lastname@house.state.tx.us

Plug in the name of your STATE Senator to:
firstname.lastname@senate.state.tx.us

But at this stage of the game,
PHONE CALLS ARE BETTER!

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