While this is a step in the right direction, it stops short of preventing the privatizing of our public highways which a public-private partnership expert testified costs taxpayers 50% more. Just because this bill requires tolling entities to publish financial details and to hold public meetings doesn’t mean the public has a say in it or can vote to stop it. We applaud Senator Nelson’s efforts, but we still need further reforms like abolishing non-compete agreements.
Link to article here.
Legislation Requires Full Disclosure of Toll Projects
AUSTIN — State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, today filed truth-in-tolling legislation (SB 995) that would require full public disclosure of the terms of any transportation project involving toll roads.
“The public will not tolerate an unlimited amount of tolling on our state highways, especially if they feel they are being kept in the dark about the contents of toll road contracts,” Senator Nelson said. “Anything less than total transparency in this process is unacceptable, which is why I filed this bill.”
Specifically, SB 995 states that after a toll authority has picked the winner of a toll contract, and before the contract is entered, toll authorities must publish in local newspapers the following information:
* Financial details of the toll contract, including the total amount of debt that will be assumed for to build and maintain the project;
* A description of how the debt will be repaid, including a timeline for repayment;
* Whether the toll project will continue to be tolled after the debt has been repaid;
* A description of the method used to set the toll rates.
After publication of this information, and before entering into the toll contract, the toll authority must hold public hearings on those financial details.
Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, represents District 12, encompassing parts of Tarrant and Denton counties.