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House Interim Committee on Transportation
Charge

Study alternative financing of the state's highway system.
Background

Texas is 48th per capita on what it spends on state highways. At present state tax rates, Texas is able to fund less than 40 percent of the systems' needs.
Recommendation

  • Examine all means to ensure that transportation needs of Texas are met.
    Charge

    Study ways to establish a dedicated funding source for general aviation development needs.
    Background

    Although the Texas airport system is the largest state system in the nation, there are significant problems with the condition of many general aviation airports. Limited resources for these facilities will jeopardize the function of the state airport system without additional funding. Several attempts have been made in the past to obtain dedicated funding with no success.
    Recommendations

  • Meet general aviation and reliever industry needs within current budget.

  • Consider a local option revenue mechanism to address general aviation development needs and provide for low-interest loans to municipalities for the development of airport infrastructure.
    Charge

    Study the effect of "Schmidt Factors" and "Westgate Laws" on right-of-way acquisitions and public work projects.
    Background

    Both Schmidt Factors and Westgate Laws arose out of court cases regarding condemnation of property for right-of-way acquisition. In both instances, the Texas Supreme Court held that the interests were noncompensable. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates that allowing compensation for these factors could increase right-of-way costs by as much as $40 million annually.
    Recommendations

    None.
    Charge

    Study the effect of heavy trucks on highways and county roads, including a look at current laws and the ratio between consumptive use of the system and fees paid by the users.
    Background

    H.B. 2060, 71st Legislature, Regular Session, essentially allows a vehicle of up to 84,000 pounds, which obtains a state permit, to travel on any road in the state except interstates, no matter what the road's capacity. The 74th Legislature added a tiered fee structure for counties in which these trucks travel, but the total revenue generated from fees currently covers only a small portion of the actual damage caused by these trucks.
    Recommendation

  • Explore the possibility of increasing revenues to assist counties with construction, acquisition, maintenance, and repair of county roads and bridges.