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Read how to restore a Pro-Taxpayer Road Policy in Texas.

Below you will find TURF's analysis of the sessions as they happen. After the current session info, previous session reports are listed.

2015 (84th legislative session)

TURF Bill Tracker for 84 (R) session 2015


Note: Bills that originate in the House are labeled HB for House Bill. Bills that originate in the Senate are labeled SB for Senate Bill.




Good Bills

Funding:
SB 5/SJR 5 (Nichols), SB 341 (Huffines), HB 202 (Leach), HB 373 (Simmons), HB 469/HJR 53 (Metcalf), HJR 36 (Larson), HB 1081/HJR 53 (Paul) - All of these bills would dedicate all or part of the exiting motor vehicle sales tax to the State Highway Fund. Most also have a provision prohibiting this money from being used on toll projects. This is how we get more money for roads without raising taxes.

SJR 12 (Perry), SB 61 (Huffines) HJR 27/HJR 28/HJR 29 (Pickett)- These bills would end diversions of the gasoline tax to non-road purposes. Some would end the 25% that goes to public schools (Huffines), and others would just end the diversions that go to DPS (Perry).

HB 203 (Leach) - To dedicate the taxes paid for motor vehicle tires and parts to the State Highway Fund. Funds are currently flowing to General Revenue.

HB 1030 & HB 1031, HB 1465(Leach/Huberty) - Would ensure these little known programs return the money to taxpayers actually paying into them, which will boost highway funding for affected regions.

HB 399/HJR 48 (Harless, Spitzer) - Slowly phases out the 25% of the gas tax that goes to public schools, indexes the gas tax to inflation (the highway cost index is too high, needs to be CPI with a cap), and restricts the increase to non-toll roads.

HB 1836 (Sanford) - Directs 10% of sales taxes to be utilized for the construction and maintenance of free highways.

Good government/Truth in Taxation:
SB 485 / HB 1734- (Kolkhorst/Shaheen), Toll cessation - This vital bill ensures Texans are protected from being charged tolls in perpetuity. This has become especially important since Senator Robert Nichols changed state law in 2011 to allow toll authorities to 'own' our public highways in perpetuity and allowed them to keep charging tolls in perpetuity. Koklhorst's bill follows the Texas GOP platform that demands tolls come off these roads when they're paid for!

HB 1838 (Sanford) - Requires all current toll roads to become free roads within 30 years (by 2046)!

HB 1837 (Sanford) - Requires toll road decisions (study, design, and construction) be made by elected officials, so citizens can hold them accountable;  approved toll roads to be paid off in twenty years or less.

HB 572 (Burkett, Larson) - Subjects the North Texas Tollway Authority to sunset review.

SB 721, HB 528 (Burton, Larson) - Subjects Regional Mobility Auhtorities (toll authorities known as RMAs) to sunset review. We want to see RMAs abolished, but this is a start!

HB 748 (Campbell) - To ensure only elected officials have voting powers on Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). MPOs decide how to allocate your gas tax money and whether or not local projects are tolled. 

HB 856 (Sanford) - Requires that the regional transportation planning organizations stream and archive videos of their meetings on their publicly accessible website.

HB 1834 (Sanford) - Requires County Commissioner Court resolution to approve toll projects; requires toll roads to be paid off in 20 years and transitions the road into a non-toll road of the state highway system.

HB 1835 (Sanford)  - Prohibit the conversion of existing free lanes of highway into toll lanes, prohibits free lanes from being conveted into tolled 'managed' lanes unless the lane is already being operated as a toll lane.

SB 398 (Schwertner) - To prohibit the government from collecting fingerprints from all drivers (even those who have committeed no crime) and storing them in the DPS database.

In January 2014, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) made an administrative decision to begin collecting all 10 fingerprints as part of the application for a driver's license or license renewal. For the first time Texans who are not suspected of a crime are required to submit their full fingerprints to the government. Prior to this change, DPS had only taken an applicant's thumbprints, or if thumbprints were unavailable, an applicant's index fingerprints.

HB 1183 (Shaheen) - Requires county commissioners court approval for any new toll projects.

SB 340 / SB 714 / HB 142 / HB 1131 (Huffines, Hall, Stickland, Elkins) - Ban red light cameras.

SB 93 (Ellis) - Repeal of the Driver Responsibility Program that imposes steep fines/fees on certain traffic violations. Has caused financial ruin for many.

SB 557 / HB 1394 (Birdwell, Burns) - Allows counties outside a toll authority's jurisdiction to have a say in toll roads.

SB 307 / HJR 8 / HJR 68 (Hancock, Otto) - To retire state road debt early using the spillover of the Rainy Day Fund.  Not sure how we feel about using the Riany Day Fund that's alreayd been twice raided, but retiring debt ealry needs to be a priority. It's now 10% of TxDOT's budget. 

Eminent domain/Property Rights:
HB 1889
(Metcalf) - Prohibits High Speed Rail in Texas.

SB 444/ HB 1004
(Hall, Davis) - Removes private toll companies' ability to use eminent domain for private toll projects.

SB 809
(Taylor, Van) - To allow limits to be put on oil & gas wells to prevent wells from being a nuisance to neighbors (like time of day operations are allowed).

SB 178 (Nichols) - Prohibits use of eminent domain to take private property for recreational purposes.

SB 479 (Schwertner) - Forces entities to show substantial progress in projects where land was taken for a public use. If they fail to show progress, original landowners can repurchase their property.

HB 1562 (Schofield) - Also requires more prgress be made on projects where private property was taken for a public use upping the ante from two requirements to three. 

BAD BILLS


Funding:
SB 269 (Watson) - Would re-authorize 21 different public private partnership toll projects (known as Comprehensive Development Agreements or CDAs) that hand our public roads to private toll operators and adds I-35 through Travis County to the list.

HB 1968 (Martinez) - Would re-authorize 21 different public private partnership toll projects (known as Comprehensive Development Agreements or CDAs) until 2019 that hand our public roads to private toll operators and adds FM 1925 in Cameron County between to segments of I-69.  

HB 395
(McClendon) - Thirty cent gas tax hike, with no accountability. No prohibition on the new funds from being used on toll projects.

SB 270 /HB 594 (Watson/Israel) - Requires all Texas taxpayers to pay for truck toll discounts on SH 130.

HB 151 (Guillen) - Imposes a tax on every mile you drive known as Vehicle Miles Traveled tax or VMT.

HB 392 / HB 393 (McClendon) - Imposes another $10 local option vehicle registration fee hike in any county. She carried the bill to impose a $10 fee hike on Bexar County residents without a vote of the people last session. She's back for more. The second bill would impose the $10 fee hike statewide without county approval first.

SB 579 / HB 1432 (Watson/Howard) - Imposes a $10 vehicle registration in counties greater than 1.5 million population (that has an RMA, so Austin & San Antonio) if voters approve it. Allows the county to impose an additional $10 fee hike that goes up annually with the highway cost index (very high compared to consumer price index).

HB 1350 (Burkett) - Guts the Kolkhorst/Shaheen toll cessation bill and allows tolls to stay in place to pay for 'road maintenance' - hence perpetual taxation.

SB 731 (Rodriguez) - Establishes a cross border infrastructure fund that makes Texans pay for infrastructure improvements in Mexico. We can't afford to fix our own roads, Texans shouldn't be asked to pay for road improvements for another country! If Mexico wants to improve trade, they can pay for the improvements themselves.  

Eminent domain/Property rights:
HB 565 (Burkett) - Claims to strip private toll companies of eminent domain authority but riddled with loopholes to allow them to continue.

HB 1113 (Clardy) - Removes landowner's chances of challenging a conetsed case hearing. TCEQ makes sole determination.

HB 1422 (Lozano) - Gives rail districts power of eminent domain. There is an all out revolt happening in Texas against all forms of passenger rail, whether high speed rail between Houston and Dallas or within metro areas (like the Tex Rail proposal between Ft. Worth and Dallas). Texans don't want it. This bill would forcibly take private property from Texans for these controversial, unwanted rail lines.  

Big government, Agenda 21, Social Engineering:
SB 693 (West) - Allows city road taxes to extend to sidewalks.

SB 422 / HB 1324 (Watson, Israel) - Establishing bus-only lanes on highways in Bexar, El Paso, Tarrant, and Travis Counties (and potentially counties touching those counties).

HB 383 (McClendon) - Would mandate a 3-6 foot buffer zone when passing all 'unprotected road users' (ie - pedestrians and cyclists) and impose penalities & fines for violators.

HB 457 (McClendon) - Takes road money from emmissions fees and places it in the rail relocaiton fund (to relocate private railroads).

HB 80 (Craddick, plus 20 joint authors or co-authors) - To impose a $25 to $99 fine for using a mobile communicaiton device in your car (unless engaging in a totally hands-free operation).  

2013 (83rd legislative session)

See how your legislators voted - TURF 2013 Legislative Report Card

The 83rd Session: It’s a wrap: Legislature drops boom on taxpayers with more tolls, fees

Helpful resources:

Download:

Pay-as-you-go funding of road construction can be done with a comprehensive transportation package, which should include:
  • State government restructuring to eliminate overlapping, duplicated effort;phase-out of funding for budget items beyond the core constitutional responsibilities of state government;
  • TxDOT operational reforms & increased transparency;
  • Reigning in flagrant waste (documented) via “local control” RMAs, MPOs and COGs spending millions on “enhancements”;
  • Refocus on building highways to relieve traffic congestion – not funding light rail, street cars, biking/hiking trails, parks and roads for economic development (the “build it and they will come” scenario);
  • Ending diversions;
  • Dedicating vehicle sales and use tax revenue to highway construction (the Nichols Plan – SB 287);
  • Early debt retirement, if approved by the people (the Eltife Plan – Constitutional Amendment via SJR 47)

Reforms Required as part of the package:
  • Return to pay-as-you-go; no more public road debt (state or local).
  • Make all toll viability studies OPEN to the public (currently kept SECRET) - (HB 2870 - Capriglione)
  • No more Public Private Partnerships (P3s), handing control of our Texas infrastructure to private, even foreign, corporations. This applies to roads and other public facilities such as the Capitol Complex. No more use of eminent domain for private gain.
  • No more public subsidies, credit enhancements, or loan guarantees for any type of toll project.
  • Comprehensive financial audit of TxDOT prior to the agency’s next sunset review in 2015 to gain efficiencies and end practices that drive-up costs, e. g., Design-Build CDAs, P3s, and multi-million dollar “enhancements” that have nothing to do with moving traffic.

New Revenues:
  • End diversions of all road user fees (motor fuel tax, vehicle sales tax, tire sales, auto parts sales tax) to non-transportation uses.
  • Phase-in motor vehicle sales/use tax revenues to the Highway Fund, consistent with Nichols’ SB 287.

Constitutional restrictions on the use of New Revenues
  • No diversions: May only be used for planning, design, construction of new state highway system road capacity and the maintenance of this new capacity once built.
  • Not Used for Toll Roads: May not be used on comprehensive development agreements or projects involving the construction of toll lanes.
  • No Debt: Shall be used for pay-as-you go projects and may not be used as backing for new debt financing (whether at the state or local level).
  • No non-road expenditures: None of these funds may be used for any expense related to bike trails, transit or pedestrian walkways.

Read more: 2013 (83rd legislative session)

2007 (80th legislative session)

Legislation covered this session:
  • Privatization/Foreign management
  • Public-Private Partnerships: (Comprehensive Development Agreements)
  • Gas tax
  • Local option sales tax for transportation
  • Non-competes:
  • Abolish Trans Texas Corridor
  • Eminent Domain
  • Tolling public freeways/conversion

Read more: 2007 (80th legislative session)

Track Key Bills

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Contact Legislators

Contact Your Representatives
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You may also contact each representative by calling the Capitol switchboard: (512) 463-4630

Key Links

Links to Legislators, Committees, Schedules for Bills: 

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