Kolkhorst Amendments Are Sticking Points On Toll Moratorium

Posted in Privatization, 80th Legislature, Had Enough Yet?, Road Issues, Around The State at 11:52 am by wcnews

Two amendments added to SB 792 by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R - Brenham), during last week’s debate on the house floor, appear to be the sticking points that will be discussed during the conference committee. One is about whether the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC-35) is part of the moratorium, and the other is about whether corporations will be allowed to “rig the system” and steer contracts to themselves. The biggie is “Amendment 13″ - which corresponds to the number it was given in the house - which was Rep. Kolkhorst’s first amendment introduced during the debate last week. This amendment is the “clarifying language” that makes sure that TTC-35 is included in the moratorium. CorridorWatch has all the information you need to know on Amendment 13:

It is clear and well understood that the legislative intent of SB792 is to create a moratorium that applies to TTC-35 (except Loop 9). However, upon close examination of existing statues, the bill language, and TxDOT contract documents it can be determined that SB792, as passed in the Senate, would not create a moratorium that applies to TTC-35.

This conclusion is supported by an analysis of SB792 amendments reportedly prepared by the Governor’s office and circulated in opposition to amendment 13 (shown below). The objection to amendment 13 is based on a finding that, “No segment of TTC-35 can be built during the moratorium, except Loop 9, which is exempted from the moratorium.” Of course that is exactly what the intent was in introducing a moratorium bill.

What would be the need for a moratorium bill if it doesn’t stop the building of corporate toll roads and especially TTC-35?

The other amendment that Gov. Perry has an issue with is the one that won’t allow the same company that does the Traffic and Revenue (T&R) study to be involved with building and financing the road. Via Ben Wear.

As for the other point, legislative sources said Friday that Perry’s office has a problem with another Kolkhorst amendment. This one would prevent a company from serving as the market evaluator of a potential toll road, then coming back later and participating in the actual project. The idea is that the company might set an abnormally high value for the toll road, thus scaring off a local government toll road agency and leaving the way open for the private sector.

But opponents of the amendment argue that the only people with the expertise to make a market evaluation are the same folks out there playing the game in the private toll road market.

It’s not like there’s any evidence of that ever happening.

The two objections that the governor has about the moratorium on corporate toll roads is, 1) that there be an actual moratorium on the biggest corporate toll road in the state and 2) That if corporations are not allowed to “rig the system” and bilk tax payers then it’s not profitable for them to be involved in building toll roads. How enlightening.

There’s much left to go in this process and for more on that check out this post from EOW, Moratorium Veto - The Road Ahead, from over the weekend. Including whether Perry will line-item veto the parts of the bill he doesn’t like.


  1. Eye on Williamson » Clarification & No Veto Override said,

    May 22, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    […] written about a possible line-item veto on SB 792, where Perry could get rid of just the parts of the bill he doesn’t like. After looking over the Texas Constitution a line-item veto only applies to the budget, so […]

  2. Eye on Williamson » Moratorium Deal said,

    May 23, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    […] Ben Wear and the TO Blog are reporting we’ve got a deal on SB 792 and it DOESN’T INCLUDE Amendment 13. […]

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