News Release from Senator Robert Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2009
Contact: Alicia Pierce
(512) 463-0103

Nichols files bill to reform/restrict CDAs
SB 3 guarantees local control and taxpayer protections.

Austin — Today state Senator Robert Nichols filed Senate Bill 3 to dramatically reform and restrict public-private toll projects, also known as comprehensive development agreements (CDAs).

"This bill puts tolling decisions and CDAs in the hands of local taxpayers and local transportation authorities," said Nichols. "It guarantees local transportation authorities always have the power to decide if a new road project should or should not be a toll project, and if so, guarantee the local authority has the power to decide who builds and manages the project."

CDAs are one of three transportation issues Gov. Rick Perry included as part of the call for the special session beginning tomorrow. Nichols filed legislation to reform CDAs including a two-year moratorium on the projects in 2007 and Senate Bill 17 earlier this year during the regular session. The purpose of all three bills is to guarantee local control.

"Since the moratorium passed in 2007, I worked to establish a process that ensures the public's interest in building a road is the primary consideration and local entities, not TXDOT, are given the first opportunity to design, plan, finance, build and operate a road, tolled or non-tolled," said Nichols. "I also wanted to ensure that all options to build a road as a state or locally operated project were exhausted before a CDA was considered."

SB 3 also ensures that if a road is developed by a private entity specific protections must be in place for Texas drivers and taxpayers. It addresses concerns about private contracts, including setting a pre-negotiated purchase price if the state ever needs to terminate the contract early.

SB 3 also reigns in non-compete clauses, which under the old CDA model would require the state to compensate the private company for lost toll revenue if a competing public or private road is built nearby.

"The number one victim of transportation mistakes has been the loss of local control. SB 3 returns transportation decisions to local authorities who are most accountable to local taxpayers," said Nichols "Unless local control and the other protections contained within SB 3 are included in legislation considered during the special session the Legislature should oppose the reauthorization of CDAs. My purpose in authoring this legislation during the special session is to ensure these essential protections are a part of any CDA extension."

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