Wednesday, June 01, 2005

House Bill 2702: The "New" Transportation Abomination

road kill

You've got to hand it to Texas pols. They really know how to cook their books--and their bills.

They just sauced up House Bill 3588, put it in a new package, gave it a different name, and dished it back to us on a shingle. You can view "House Bill 2702" by clicking HERE.

After you've digested this wad of putrid pork, one thing is clear: Our elected officials and their buddies, using TxDOT as a vehicle, are determined to bend the laws of eminent domain and go into the leasing and land development business--with our property, of course.

If you think House Bill 2702 is a great thing, think again:
  • It limits commercial leasing to within the confines of the unneccessary quarter-mile wide TTC Pork Pikes--all 4,000 miles of them.
And it gets worse.
  • It also opens the door for TxDOT land-grabs across the rest of the state, wherever TxDOT and friends choose to build a road.
Here are just a few tidbits:
  • According to Sec 201.1055. Private entities (such as Cintra, Zachry, Maquarie, Fluor, Transurban and their ilk) can now also acquire land for commercial facilities-- something that they couldn't do under HB3588.
  • 203.052 (b) was changed to read " (9) provide a location for an ancillary facility that is anticipated to generate revenue for use in the design, development, financing, construction, maintenance, or operation of a toll project, including a gas station, garage, store, hotel, restaurant, or other commercial facility.
  • 203.055 was amended to allow a government agency (let's say a Regional Mobility Authority) to transfer land to the state without public disclosure. The state can then conveniently convey it to a private tolling company.
Is this cause for celebration? I think not.

The pork doctors who wrote this bill apparently believe that TxDOT and friends should be able to take someone's land as a "revenue generator" because they can incorporate it into one of their many future toll road corridors. That way, they can have a handy "revenue stream" to dip into for the "public good."

This new abomination still gives Perry's appointees at TxDOT and your friendly 'Regional Mobility Authority' the power to take your land and lease it to private toll road companies.

And now they have a handy 'back door' method to convey the land they grab to those companies for their development schemes (like "gas stations, garages, stores, hotels, restaurants, or other commercial facilities").

How clever of them and disastrous for the rest of us.

Our lawmakers and their cronies were too tempted by the up-front cash they could grab from this "public-private" pork-fest. With the Toll Road Industry comparing its collections to those of the Porn Industry, how could they resist?

And Governor Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor was thier inspiration.

So don't be surprised if a new toll road corridor with some nifty "ancillary facilities" is headed your way. Your property then can become a revenue generator for the State so our politicians can say they "didn't raise taxes."

The 79th Legislature and our governor have long since passed thier expiration dates.

They could have looked out for regular Texans, but they chose to look the other way. In the process our land, legacy and liberty was sold out to special interests-- both foreign and domestic. They could have stepped back from their transportation abomination and put the Corridor on hold for two years to allow for genuine public input.

What did they do? They slammed the door in our faces and thumbed their snouts at us.

Now a bunch of political appointees are going to take our land, our livelihoods and our legacy so our governor and legislators can reward their campaign donors and cronies.

It's time for Texans to hold their noses and start "cleaning house," when the 2006 general election rolls around.


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