The TxDOT Sunset Bill is up for a vote by the full Texas House Tuesday, May 16. It involves the continuation and functions of the department and gives members the ability to tack on just about any transportation bill to it -- good and bad.
While our Good Guys pre-filed many of our key anti-toll good bills as amendments to SB 312, the Bad Guys did the same, and they're seeking to resurrect PRIVATE TOLL ROADS once again.
URGENT ACTION ITEM
Contact your House member NOW
(find who represents you here
) and CALL THEM
(switchboard open 8 AM- 5 PM, 512-463-4630) to ask them to vote 'No' on ANY private toll road amendments, especially the Phelan Amendment
Every House member received our Bill Alert asking them to oppose the private toll road amendments and support our anti-toll good amendments.
1) Ask them to OPPOSE the private toll road amendments, especially the Phelan Amendment, which are sweetheart deals that charge $30-$40/day to get to work, grant government monopolies to a single company in order to exrcat the highest possible tolls, use eminent domain for private gain and HEAPS of taxpayer money to subsidize and bail out the private company's losses.
2) Ask them to SUPPORT
our anti-toll amendments (listed below - they all received a copy).
Killing the private toll road bill made national news!
We did it! Not only did we send a message to Texas lawmakers and special interests that the Rick Perry era of toll roads is over, we also sent a message to the Trump Administration that private toll roads are dead on arrival in Texas!
Watch the Bloomberg story on it here.
VICTORY: Grassroots KILL private toll bill, secure Abbott's vision for toll-free future
CONTACT: Terri Hall, (210) 275-0640
Defeat of private toll road bill affirms Abbott's pledge to voters
Promise to fix roads without new tolls or debt gets bipartisan support
(Austin, TX - Friday, May 5, 2017) Texas taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief tonight as a bipartisan effort to defeat expansion of private toll roads in Texas went down in flames by a vote of 79-51 in the Texas House. Taxpayer champions Rep. Jeff Leach (R - Plano), Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R - Bedford), and Rep. Joe Pickett (D - El Paso) led the floor fight, noting 90% of Democrats and 95% of Republicans oppose new toll roads in Texas, and both party platforms oppose privatized toll roads in particular. Governor Greg Abbott promised to fix Texas roads without new tolls or debt, and the Texas House delivered on that promise today by killing Rep. Larry Phillips HB 2861.
Pickett and Stickland made impassioned speeches opposing the bill. Leach emphasized both party platforms oppose this type of toll project and that the voters just gave the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) $5 billion a year in new funding by passing Proposition 1 and Proposition 7.
Trump floats gas tax hike after tolls get cold shoulder
Trump floats gas tax increase after cold reception to privatized toll roads
By Terri Hall
May 5, 2017
It’s tough being a change-agent. Newly minted President Donald Trump came into office with high hopes of a major infrastructure overhaul. With the nation’s crumbling bridges, pothole stricken roads, and millions of commuters choking in urban congestion, Trump had a big plan to harness the private sector through public private partnerships (P3s) to address congestion by adding toll lanes. The problem is those privatized toll lanes grant private, usually foreign, entities monopolies over vital public highways where the companies are given the exclusive right to extract the highest possible tolls for 50-99 years.
With the pushback to P3s coming fast and furious from working class families to truckers, Trump has begun to change his tack. After meeting with members of the trucking industry this week, Trump has floated the idea of a federal gas tax increase to raise the revenue necessary for the big infrastructure fix. Truckers prefer a gas tax increase to tolls.
Here’s the back story. The National Highway Trust Fund, which is funded with a federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, has teetered on the edge of bankruptcy for over a decade while the gas tax has remained unchanged since 1993. Inflation has diminished its buying power over the last 24 years, and members of congress have been reluctant to raise it. Under President George W. Bush, many Republicans pushed road privatization and implementing toll ‘managed’ lanes as the means to finance road projects as perpetual road funding shortfalls plagued the highway system.
Hands 19 Texas roads to foreign entities to gouge commuters & make us their ATM machines
Call your State House member NOW!
Keep Texas roads in Texans' hands.
Stop your House member from letting a foreign corporation gouge us with HIGH tolls in 50-yr sweetheart deals!
HB 2861 - Coalition Opposed to CDAs, P3s & More Toll Roads
Letter to Texas Legislature...
Please be advised that a broad coalition of leaders of grassroots groups across Texas and citizens stand with us in strong opposition to HB 2861 and all related bills that approve any type of Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDAs) or public private partnership toll projects. A signed statement detailing this significant block of opposition is attached; however, we, and the signers of this letter, do not stand alone in our opposition to CDAs and P3s.
Victory for Texas landowners along the Red River
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2017
PRESS OFFICE: (512) 463-2050
AG Paxton: Suspension of BLM Red River Surveys is a Win for Texas
AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today praised the Trump administration for suspending three U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) surveys from the Obama-era that the BLM used to justify a land grab involving 90,000 acres near the Red River.
The federal action was prompted by the BLM’s admission earlier this week that it used “incorrect methodology” while determining the gradient boundary on a portion of the 116-mile stretch of Texas properties along the Red River. Attorney General Paxton intervened in November 2015 on behalf of the state in a lawsuit brought against the BLM by affected property owners.
Schertz fights back against Cibolo's private toll road scheme
Link to article here. (Note: The article at this link is modified from the one below. It addresses the connection to the NAFTA superhighway network in North America)
Revolt: Sister city fights back against Cibolo private toll road
By Terri Hall
April 6, 2017
A funny thing happened on the way to handing over a public highway to a private toll operator —a sister city said an unequivocal, ‘No!’ A small suburb of San Antonio, the city of Cibolo, inked an irrevocable deal to hand an existing public highway, FM 1103, over to a private toll company so it could place express toll lanes down the middle, granting it the exclusive right to operate both the toll lanes and the existing free lanes for the next 50 years. FM 1103 runs through the city limits of Schertz before it connects to Interstate 35. But what Cibolo didn’t count on was its neighboring city not cooperating with the scheme.
Raw Deal: Private toll company weasels sweetheart deal out of Cibolo
So what’s in that controversial private toll road contract?
By Terri Hall
After a controversial decision by the Cibolo City Council to give development rights for a private toll road to a corporation that's never even built a road last week, Cibolo Mayor Allen Dunn has been busy shooting the messenger. The Development Agreement, kept secret from the public prior to its approval last week, was finally made public and it verifies and validates citizen concerns. When the terms of an exclusive 50-year development agreement was negotiated in secret and handed to a single private firm in a no bid contract, it shouldn't surprise elected officials when the public is irate.
The city signed an irrevocable development agreement with, Cibolo Turnpike, an entity created by the investors of Texas Turnpike Corporation. The draft operating agreement requires the city to repay all the company's debt and the net present value of future distributions (anticipated revenues) if it wants out of the deal -- after it's built. There is no other way out for the city, however, there are lots of exit strategies for the company.
So what are some of the other red flags? First, the agreement seeks to give operational control of the non-toll portion of FM 1103, a state highway, to the private company.
Secret agreement handed private toll firm control of public roads
Link to article here.
How sad that this happened just days before we celebrate Texas Indepenence Day, March 2.
City hands control over public roads to private firm
By Terri Hall
Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research
March 1, 2017
In a stunning betrayal of open government, the Cibolo City Council voted 6-0 to approve a 50 year development agreement with Texas Turnpike Corporation (TTC) granting it the exclusive right to build, operate and maintain what’s been dubbed the Cibolo Parkway — a tollway linking I-35 to I-10 through mostly rural farmland northeast of San Antonio. The agreement was negotiated behind closed doors and was kept secret from the public until it was approved last night.
Even worse, the city council gave TTC the rights to develop a project the taxpayers have already paid for, the expansion of FM 1103, the city’s primary connection to I-35. By doing so, they’ve granted a private corporation a virtual monopoly over the existing non-toll competitor to its private toll road. TTC can intentionally slow down the free option to force more cars onto its for-profit toll road by manipulating speed limits, access points, and stop lights. It’s a developer’s dream and a commuter’s worst nightmare.
Tolls aren't necessary, do what the public voted for
Link to Op/Ed here.
Use Prop 1, Prop 7 funds to fix Loop 1604 without tolls
By Terri Hall
Founder, Texans for Toll-free Highways
February 28, 2017
San Antonio Express-News
Much in the same way taxpayers got the message about tolls being inevitable on US 281 and I-10, the Express-News editorial told our community, 'Tolls are necessary, deal with it.' Taxpayers don't appreciate being told what to do, especially when it comes to the long arm of government reaching into our wallets. Contrary to the narrative, tolls are no longer a 'user fee' where only those who use the toll lanes pay for them. When $326 million in our gas taxes will be used to subsidize the construction of toll lanes inside Loop 1604, everyone will pay for them. But only the select few who can fork over up to $23 a day in tolls will be able to use them.
That's right. The plan calls for dynamic tolling where the toll rate changes in real time and can reach the maximum during peak hours, which is $.50/mile. So if you need to drive all 23 miles during rush hour, you're looking at $23/day in new toll taxes to use lanes your gas taxes helped pay to build. That's double taxation and warrants a taxpayer revolt. Tolls, once imposed, tend to never disappear. If it's one thing a government bureaucrat won't give up, it's an unaccountable revenue stream in the hands of unelected boards. They can always find a use for your money.
Keep Free Lanes Free Act filed by Taylor, Sanford
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SENATOR VAN TAYLOR AND REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT SANFORD FILE LEGISLATION TO STOP PROLIFERATION OF TOLL ROADS
AUSTIN, TX - State Senator Van Taylor and State Representative Scott Sanford filed the Keep Free Lanes Free Act. Filed as S.B. 891 and H.B. 1311 respectively, these bills would prohibit the conversion of any free lanes into tolled or managed lanes.
Senator Taylor stated, "The people of Senate District 8 have spoken loud and clear that they are fed up with the excessive tolling that engulfs our communities. Tolls are just a tax by another name. The people's tax dollars funded 'free' lanes to begin with and converting those lanes into tolls is simply government trying to orchestrate double tax."
Representative Sanford added, "Tolls are extracting an additional tax on our families and businesses. Collin County is surrounded by tolls, making us a gated community with one large transportation bill."
Maxing out the credit card: SA $850 million bond to convert auto lanes to bike & bus-only lanes
Link to article here.
Council candidate: Don’t ‘bond out bureaucrats’
By Kenric Ward / February 22, 2017
Boosters of San Antonio’s proposed $850 million bond call the record debt package “essential” and “transformational” for America’s seventh largest city. They tout the decision-making process as “transparent” and “community-driven.”
But a city council candidate who served on one of the bond committees calls it something else.
“It’s bonding out the bureaucrats,” says Patty Gibbons, a candidate to replace retiring District 9 Councilman Joe Krier.
Sitting on a Roads and Sidewalks committee, Gibbons looked forward to a fair evaluation of projects. She didn’t see it.
Editorial: 'Tolls are necessary, deal with it'
Texans reject editorial stating, ‘Tolls are necessary, deal with it’
By Terri Hall
February 20, 2017
It’s tough being a taxpayer. After 14 years of enduring former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s push for toll roads, including the controversial network of transnational tollways under the control of a foreign corporation called the Trans Texas Corridor, Texans are still facing the push for tolls by local governments. Though Texas Governor Greg Abbott did an about-face on tolls campaigning against them and promising to fix Texas roads without raising fees, taxes, tolls or debt, local toll agencies, with the aid of a willing press, are trying to cram toll roads down commuters’ throats despite their opposition. Case in point, the San Antonio Express-News just ran an editorial entitled, ‘Tolls are necessary, deal with it.’
Big win for high speed rail opponents
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2016
CONTACT: Desi Burns Porter
TEXAS CENTRAL IS NOT A RAILROAD, DOES NOT HAVE EMINENT DOMAIN AUTHORITY
MAJOR HIGH SPEED RAIL OPPOSITION VICTORY
(Jewett, Texas) Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure’s motion to be declared a railroad with eminent domain authority denied by Harris County judge. Last Friday, landowner Calvin House and Texans Against High Speed Rail delivered another devastating blow to Texas Central’s ill-advised Dallas to Houston High Speed Rail project. In Harris County, on Texas Central’s home court, where it has sued more than 20 landowners – the Court denied Texas Central’s motion for summary judgment “in its entirety.”
Court victory for Texas property rights
Ranchers score victory for Texas property rights
By Terri Hall
February 10, 2017
Two cattle ranchers in the Texas Hill Country can breathe a sigh of relief -- at least for now. Terrell and Pat Graham have been in a three year court battle with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to defend their property rights and they finally won. The developers of Johnson Ranch, DHJB, picked a fight with the Graham family when it decided to amend its wastewater permit with TCEQ to dump their treated sewage onto the Grahams' property. The Grahams naturally said 'No way!' So they challenged the amended permit in court and won. It took three years and much of their life savings to do it, but their win is more than a victory for their family. It's a win for property rights for all Texans and it sets an important precedent to help those who are victims of unscrupulous developers.
Huffines files bills to prevent double tax toll roads, hold toll agencies accountable
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Brent Connett
January 27, 2017
SEN. HUFFINES FILES TRANSPORTATION REFORM &
Senator Huffines pursues transparency, truth in taxation, and keeping Texans moving forward
AUSTIN — Senator Don Huffines (R-Dallas) today filed a package of bills to end toll roads and bring more accountability to the transportation dollars (taxpayers' money) that are allocated by the state to Regional Mobility Authorities:
Senate Joint Resolution 35 and Senate Bill 639 - Ending Toll Expenditures out of the State Highway Fund
Senator Huffines stated, "Texans are tired of tolls. In 2013, the Legislature and voters worked together to pass Prop 1 - a much-needed surplus in transportation funding - with the condition that none of it be spent on toll roads. Then, in 2015, legislators and voters teamed up again to get even more transportation funding with Prop 7, and these funds are also restricted from toll usage. It's time to finish the job by entirely closing the state's major road funding account to toll roads. Texans are tired of the ever-creeping expansion of toll roads in our state. My district has been almost entirely swallowed by toll roads. It's time for the state to end its dependency on tolls - that's why I filed SJR 35 and SB 639, which will protect the state's primary transportation infrastructure fund from being used on toll roads."
DOUBLE TAX: Alamo board votes to use gas taxes to put tolls on Loop 1604
On January 23, the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) board, comprised of local officials, voted to grant $326 million in YOUR federal gas taxes to plop toll lanes down the middle of Loop 1604. TxDOT can't toll anything without the MPO's blessing, which the MPO just granted.
The toll rates are dynamic and change in real time ranging from 18 cents a mile up to 50 cents per mile - you pay the max during peak hours! The toll lanes would stretch 22.8 miles from Bandera Rd. on the west side to I-35 on the east side (see Express-News article on it here). The excuse is there isn't enough money to fix all our roads without tolls, despite voters giving TxDOT $5 billion more PER YEAR in NEW funds to prevent tolling.