7/14/2005

Judge rules: RMA's are Unconstitutional.

7/14/05 - For Immediate Release (Click on last line for Judge executive order)

Today, Travis County District Judge Darlene Byrne not only ruled that the statute that establishes the boards of directors for Regional Mobility Authorities violates the constitution, the Court also enjoined any member of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Board from serving more than a two year term, thus insuring that these toll authorities must take the first step toward accountability.

People for Efficient Transportation, Inc. filed the lawsuit March 1, 2005 in State of Texas District Court against Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA - Toll Authority).

The lawsuit exposed how RMA's (FREEway tolling authorities) throughout Texas are unconstitutional. Under House Bill 3588 an RMA board has 6 year terms. But, a provision in the State of Texas Constitution says a regional entity must be 2 years or less. The state constitution trumps state law.

Since the lawsuit was filed March 1, 2005, it caused a chain reaction in an attempt to fix the problem. State Representative Mike Krusee, who also authored HB 3588, the freeway tolling bill that caused the issue, proposed a constitutional amendment in the last session. HJR 79 will appear on the November 8, 2005 ballot for the public to decide whether the unlected RMA terms should be two or six year terms.

PET Officer and founder, Sal Costello said, "This is a great victory for Texans who deserve more accountability. Texans now have an opportunity to come out in droves this November to say NO to extending the unelected, unaccountable RMA board members terms. An unelected toll authority setting toll rates for our freeways is taxation without representation, the comptroller's report "A Need for a Higher Standard" proves that. We need to get rid of these bureaucratic mini-TxDOT's and not extend their terms. And politicians like Governor Rick Perry, who forced this taxation without representation freeway toll scheme on Texans, should pay the price next year at the polls."

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's RMA investigation called "A Need for a Higher Standard" reports that the RMA, being an unelected board allowed to privatize and toll our freeways, creates "double taxation without accountability", and that the RMA's loose management practices cost all Texans more. NOT surprisingly, Comptroller also found favoritism and self-enrichment as board members gave contracts (without bids) to their friends and their own companies.

PET Attorney, Phil Durst of Deats, Durst Owen & Levy said, "The Texas Constitution was designed to serve as a check on government authority and to make sure that government boards cannot be insulated from public accountability. We are very pleased that Judge Byrne ruled that the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority was set up in an unconstitutional way that did not provide enough pubic accountability."

The lawsuit, along with a recent focus on other RMA issues is causing a ripple effect for RMA's across Texas. Regions are now thinking twice about creating RMA's. "It opens the door to open-ended new taxation that will amount to THE LARGEST TAX INCREASE IN TEXAS HISTORY. said Lyle Larson, Bexar County Commissioner

Executive Order from Judge IS HERE.

2 comments:

iwork2much said...

I think a party is in order - I'll bring the Cheetos.
I wonder why the news channels are not covering this important ruling.
Congratulations Sal and all!

Rick Harvey said...

Thank you for posting the picture. The "truth indicates". This is the "face" of "integrity".

Good show!