BREAKING NEWS: House speaker Tom Craddick refereed HB 2772 to the Transportation Committee today.
Inside sources say Craddick’s referral suggests the political pressure has become too great and he is telling the chair of Transportation, Rep. Mike Krusee, to bring it up for a vote.
Constituent phone calls into Krusee’s office in support of the two year toll moratorium have been met with argumentative office staff. The staff has been holding the pro-toll line, telling consituents that other consituents want tolls. Some would say that one of Krusee’s recent quotes, “Toll roads are enormously popular", would challenge his understanding of reality.
HB 2772, which will freeze any future toll privatization deals, for two years, was filed last week by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst. The former pro-toll TxDOT Commissioner gone rogue, Senator Robert Nichols, filed the identical SB 1267 days before.
25 Texas Senators (81%) and nearly 100 State Representatives have signed on to date according to the CorridorWatch.org scorecard.
Two-thirds of both bodies is the magic number. That way a bill can pass without the possibility of a veto from Gov. Rick Perry. The TTC and tolling freeways are Gov. Perry’s push. The Governors own website uses the term, “creative financing”, which sounds more appetizing than the truth - tolling roads we've already paid for.
Back in 2003, Rep. Mike Krusee’s HB 3588 was the bill that allowed the tolling of roads we’ve already paid for (tolling freeways), as well as the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC), and the Comprehensive Development Agreements (CDA). CDAs allow the toll deals to be secret.
Many in the legislature have said they were tricked by HB 3588’s summery, hence the large numbers hearing the cries from the public, as they line up to say yes to the moratorium.
The most astonishing fact about the two year toll freeze - the majority of Krusee’s own Transportation Committee have turned their backs on Krusee, and signed up to freeze Texas tolls. Five of the nine committee members that have signed on are Haggerty, Harper-Brown, Harless, Macias, and Murphy.
An inside source says the toll freeze bill is a virtual lock, especially if the public continues to phone Representatives, and gave details.
If Krusee was to try and stall the bill, the bill caption is broad enough to go to almost any other committee.
And, if Craddick would change his support, and not take it to other committee, the bill would just be brought up as an amendment to another bill, and with the majority already on board, it’s a slam dunk. That is also why Craddick is on board, because he has to be, or he looks bad.
Looks like a cold spring is coming for the special interests.