Ken Paxton

  • End to exorbitant toll fines in sight? AG may decide

    Link to article here.

    RELIEF COMING? Ending exorbitant toll fines and fees may be decided by Texas Attorney General

    By Terri Hall
    September 15, 2017

    It’s been a long time coming, but Texas commuters may finally cut a break when it comes to relief from exorbitant toll fines and fees. Texas State Rep. Joe Pickett, former House Transportation Committee Chair, fired off a request for an official legal opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton this week to see if the caps on toll fines and fees in Senate Bill 312 apply to other toll entities besides the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Pickett’s House colleagues Rep. Ina Minjarez, Rep. Tom Oliverson, and Rep. Tony Dale joined him in signing the letter.

    The Texas legislature passed SB 312 in May during the 85th legislative session, and it contains a strong toll collection reform capping the administrative fees imposed on drivers to just $48/year and $250/year in criminal penalties. But one section of the bill references another section of the transportation code that says an entity operating a toll lane has the same powers and duties regarding toll collection as TxDOT. That’s the hook anti-toll advocates are hoping will force the law to apply to all toll agencies, not just TxDOT when it comes to taming the out of control, excessive fines and fees being tacked onto toll bills across the state.
  • Mixed bag legal opinion over co-mingling of funds for toll roads

    Mixed bag legal opinion over co-mingling of funds for toll roads
    Attorney General can’t figure out what a toll road is
    By Terri Hall
    May 19, 2018

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a mixed legal opinion regarding whether or not Prop 1 and Prop 7 funds that are prohibited from being used on toll roads could be co-mingled with projects that have toll lanes in them. Rep. Joe Pickett requested the opinion in response to the public backlash when it was discovered the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority was attempting to use Prop 1 and Prop 7 funds on its US 183 toll project.

    To the average voter, when it states: “Revenue transferred to the state highway fund under this subsection may be used only for constructing, maintaining, and acquiring rights-of-way for public roadways other than toll roads,” it’s pretty clear that means any part of a road, including the right of way, cannot be a toll road. But apparently that’s not clear to the Attorney General whose legal opinion chose to punt rather than protect taxpayers from an accounting trick being used by toll bureaucrats to skirt the Texas Constitutional Amendments overwhelmingly approved by Texas voters in 2014 and 2015.
  • Toll bureaucracies irked at cap on toll fines

    Link to article here.

    Lawmakers clash with toll bureaucracies over cap on toll fines

    By Terri Hall
    March 11, 2018
    Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research

    It’s a great day for Texas drivers as a new law takes effect capping the toll fines and fees on some Texas tollways to $48 a year. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion just as the law took effect that said the new law applies to all toll entities, but only under a limited section of the Transportation Code — Chapter 228. This has put toll agencies, like the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), on a collision course with lawmakers over the interpretation of how broadly the law impacts certain toll projects.

    Paxton did assert the new law applies to “an entity operating a toll lane pursuant to Section 228.007(b), Transportation Code,” which brings in every type of toll entity. However, most toll projects are not governed by agreements with TxDOT under Chapter 228, so toll bureaucracies argue the new law, passed as part of SB 312 last year, only applies to a handful of toll projects.

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