News Release from Senator John Carona

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2007
Contact: Steven Polunsky
Committee Director, Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security
(512) 463-0067

CHAIRMAN CARONA UPDATE ON CDA MORATORIUM

Austin, Texas - Senator John Carona, Chairman of the Texas Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, today issued this statement regarding SB 1267:

"I have received a number of calls about the status of Senate Bill 1267. Many of these callers seem to be under the impression that SB 1267 kills the Trans Texas Corridor, and they cannot understand why the bill has not yet come out of committee. The bill does not do that." [see excerpt from Legislative Budget Board analysis, below*.]

"Some callers think that if this bill passes, it solves our transportation problems. But there are necessary items this bill does not address. It does not address the things that we need to change about the Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) laws, such as noncompete agreements, up-front payments, and duration of contracts. There is no reason to wait years to fix those problems."

"It does not say how we will address our mobility problems in the meantime. There are things we need to accomplish this session, such as stopping or reducing diversion of transportation revenues, and indexing the motor fuels taxes. If all we do is pass SB 1267, then we have told TxDOT it is okay to build all future roads as toll roads, just not CDA toll roads. That is not the message the Legislature should send."

"We have heard the public loud and clear about toll roads, public private partnerships, and the Trans Texas Corridor. We have also heard from Tarrant County and others for whom SB 1267 creates a hardship, and we have an obligation to listen to them as well."

"I appreciate the public's input and concern and would compare where we are to fixing a car. If your car is broken, you might have to pull the engine block, but you don't stop there and say you have fixed the car. We have a huge task before us, and this is the part of the session that inspired someone to compare watching the making of laws to watching the making of sausage. I greatly appreciate the public's attention to the session and patience as we work to get the best legislation we can for mobility in Texas."

*The bill would amend the Transportation Code to impose a two-year moratorium on certain provisions in contracts between a private entity and a toll project entity, including the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), a regional tollway authority, a regional mobility authority, or a county. The bill would specify that a toll project entity could not enter into a comprehensive development agreement (CDA) containing a provision permitting a private participant to operate and collect revenue from a toll project or enter into a contract to sell a toll project to a private entity. The bill would create a legislative study committee to study the public policy implications of such agreements with private participants and submit a written report of the committee's findings to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The committee would be abolished on December 31, 2008. The provisions of the bill would expire on September 1, 2009. Source: Fiscal Note, SB 1267.

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