Moratorium Timing & No Change

Posted in 80th Legislature, Around The State, Privatization, Road Issues at 11:14 am by wcnews

Well today’s Friday’s the day. Will Gov. Perry veto the toll road moratorium bill (HB 1892), that’s been sitting on his desk for since May 7th, like he said he was going to do? It’s hard to believe he can’t after all he’s said. But what will that do to negotiations on the alternative/compromise bill (SB 792)? Ben Wear is reporting that the compromise bill will be in a House committee all day today, it could be amended dozens of times, and a “legislators only room” has been setup in the capitol so they can come by and “learn” about the bill.

Senate Bill 792’s sprint through the Legislature has run into some head winds.

A growing number of House members, according to bill sponsor Rep. Wayne Smith’s office, have begun to regard the must-pass toll road legislation as a handy vehicle on which to hang dead or dying bills. By one estimate, there could be several dozen suggested amendments by this morning.

Throw in the traditional late-session suspicion by lawmakers of any huge, complicated and significant bill, as well as a general distrust this session of the Texas Department of Transportation, and you have a potent brew of delay. The bill, which under supporters’ game plan was to come up for debate and a preliminary vote on the House floor today, isn’t on today’s calendar and won’t be debated until at least Thursday.

Which might put final approval on Friday — absent a relatively rare suspension of the House rules — or later if things really bog down. This is the last day before the 11:59 p.m. Friday deadline for Gov. Rick Perry to sign or veto HB 1892.

To address all this, Smith’s office is taking the extraordinary measure of setting up a legislators-only room in the Capitol today, complete with maps and other educational materials, so that lawmakers can come by and learn about the 60-page bill. And maybe listen to pleas that they drop those pesky amendments.

That stalling means there will be no guarantee of a compromise when Gov. Perry vetoes HB 1892 sometime before Midnight, of course that’s an assumption. But with a Perry veto and no deal signed, the override process must move forward. Like EOW said earlier for something to get done on this front, until there’s a bill signed by Perry, nobody can assume the deal is done. And what will the implications of a veto and the override process be to “the general distrust this session”, and the compromise process? Remember for Perry, Krusee, TxDOT and all their pro-corporate toll friends, no change is a win for them, and it’s the governor that calls special sessions. So if there’s no change this session, there will be not change until next session, at the earliest.

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