Ruby is Best for Texas 6th Congressional District

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hypocrites in Texas House Pass Marriage Legislation

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 the Texas House passed legislation to raise the cost of a Marriage License from $30.00 to $100.00. To strong-arm couples to submit to an eight-hour class on marriage, the fee is waived for participants! In their eternal concern for the morals of the poor and underclass of Texas, they decreed from their high and lofty moral perches under the dome of the Texas State Capitol that poor couples can apply for scholarships to the class!

Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) authored two marriage bills. The second includes a "Healthy Marriage Development Program" which includes abstinence education for couples (both previously married and never married). There are parenting skills and premarital counseling components to the program.

Yep, the Texas House, which is littered with Representatives, many of whom have been married and divorced multiple times, passed these bills. They are running from facing hard choices which will give Texas a realistic tax structure to finance public highways from public funds, but have time to dictate good marriage practices to the state's citizens.

There were a few voices who spoke against interfering in citizens' lives. The second bill transfers funds from the State's Temporary Assistance for Needy families program which is grossly under funded in comparison to most other states. Pat Haggerty (R-El Paso) tried to kill the bill by attaching an amendment requiring lawmakers to "take this silly class every year." He invited members to "take the male or female of your choice to these classes." (That amendment failed.) Obviously the House views it more important to dictate and direct others in sound marital practices than they are committed to learning about them themselves!

Dean of Women in the Texas Legislature Rep Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) was a voice of reason. Unfortunately her words which questioned the appropriateness of the members of the Texas Legislature in dictating pro-family premarital education into law appeared to fall on member’s earwax. She states: "If this body loves marriage so much, then why do we have some members of this House that have been married five or six times?"

A better question is: If this body is qualified to prescribe a pre-marital educational program, why have so many of them been divorced multiple times?

Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, emerged from the pack of hypocrites and asked: "Will there be a test associated with this program? I haven't done too well in the past."

Other posts on this subject are: MUSING

Texas Kos by Lightseeker

Texas House Passes Moratorium -- Now it goes to the Senate

April 11th, 2007, the Texas House of Representatives passed the two year moratorium on private public (CDA) partnership for toll road construction bill. It was passed as an amendment to another bill. In the House and Senate, the Chairs of the Transportation Committee refused to pass the moratorium bill out of committee, despite both housing having a majority of the members committed to pass it. On April 11th, the text of the moratorium bill was added as an amendment to another bill. In debating House Bill 1892, there were 22 amendments proposed. Several attempts were made to exempt proposed CDA toll projects from the moratorium. Some projects in the Houston area were exempted from the bill but it appears that SH121 in Collin County and some of the proposed Tarrant County projects remain under the moratorium

WHAT HAPPENS NOW: The bill (text below) with the amendments will go to the Senate. Hopefully, it will pass the Senate. The biggest hurdle will probably be getting Rick Perry to sign it instead of allowing it to lanquish on his desk until after the session is over.

It would be wise for citizens to keep the heat up on the Senate and Rick Perry. Perry should be persuaded to call a special session to consider all the bills he allows to remain on his desk unsigned at the end of the session and/or which he vetoes.

We need to remind people of the fate of Kent Grusendorf when the Legislature failed to adequately address critical school funding issues. This year the focus is on Transportation.

Here is the text of the "engrossed" bill after the amendments were incorporated into the text of the bill.

Engrossed moratorium toll 1892 passed house 4/11/07
By: Smith of Harris, Dutton, Hartnett, H.B. No. 1892
Creighton, Howard of Fort Bend, et al.


A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT
relating to the authority of certain counties and other entities with respect to certain transportation projects.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Subchapter E, Chapter 223, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Section 223.210 to read as follows:
Sec. 223.210. MORATORIUM ON CERTAIN TERMS IN COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS OR SALE OF TOLL PROJECTS. (a) In this section:
(1) "Toll project" means a toll project described by Section 201.001(b), regardless of whether the toll project:
(A) is a part of the state highway system; or
(B) is subject to the jurisdiction of the department.
(2) "Toll project entity" means a public entity authorized by law to acquire, design, construct, finance, operate, or maintain a toll project, including:
(A) the department;
(B) a regional tollway authority;
(C) a regional mobility authority; or
(D) a county.
(b) A comprehensive development agreement entered into with a private participant by a toll project entity on or after the effective date of this subsection for the acquisition, design, construction, financing, operation, or maintenance of a toll project may not contain a provision permitting the private participant to operate the toll project or collect revenue from the toll project, regardless of whether the private participant operates the toll project or collects the revenue itself or engages a subcontractor or other entity to operate the toll project or collect the revenue.
(c) On or after the effective date of this subsection, a toll project entity may not sell or enter into a contract to sell a toll project of the entity to a private entity.
(c-1) Subsections (b) and (c) do not apply to any project within the boundaries of a regional tollway authority created on September 1, 1997.
(c-2) To the extent that Subsection (c-1) conflicts with Section 228.012, Section 228.012 shall govern.
(c-3) This section does not apply to a comprehensive development agreement for a managed lane facility toll project the major portion of which is located inside the boundaries of a regional tollway authority created on September 1, 1997, and for which the department has issued a request for qualifications before the effective date of this subsection. Before the department executes a final contract for a project described by this subsection, the commissioners court for any county in which a majority of the project is located must pass a supporting resolution that:
(1) acknowledges that the contract may contain penalties for the construction of future competing transportation projects built at any time during the life of the agreement; and
(2) states that the commissioners court is aware of and agrees to pay the penalties if any are rendered.
(d) A legislative study committee is created. The committee is composed of nine members, appointed as follows:
(1) three members appointed by the lieutenant governor;
(2) three members appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives; and
(3) three members appointed by the governor.
(e) The legislative study committee shall select a presiding officer from among its members and conduct public hearings and study the public policy implications of including in a comprehensive development agreement entered into by a toll project entity with a private participant in connection with a toll project a provision that permits the private participant to operate and collect revenue from the toll project. In addition, the committee shall examine the public policy implications of selling an existing and operating toll project to a private entity.
(f) Not later than December 1, 2008, the legislative study committee shall:
(1) prepare a written report summarizing:
(A) any hearings conducted by the committee;
(B) any legislation proposed by the committee;
(C) the committee's recommendations for safeguards and protections of the public's interest when a contract for the sale of a toll project to a private entity is entered into; and
(D) any other findings or recommendations of the committee; and
(2) deliver a copy of the report to the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the house of representatives.
(g) On December 31, 2008, the legislative study committee created under this section is abolished.
(h) This section expires September 1, 2009.
SECTION 2. Section 228.0055, Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows:
Sec. 228.0055. USE OF CONTRACT PAYMENTS. (a) Payments received by the commission or the department under a comprehensive development agreement shall [may] be used by the commission or the department to finance the construction, maintenance, or operation of a transportation project or air quality project in the same department district as the project or facilities to which the payments are attributable or a department district adjacent to that district [region].
(b) The commission or the department may not:
(1) revise the formula as provided in the department's unified transportation program, or its successor document, in a manner that results in a decrease of a department district's allocation because of a payment under Subsection (a); or
(2) take any other action that would reduce funding allocated to a department district because of payments received under a comprehensive development agreement.
SECTION 3. Subchapter A, Chapter 228, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Section 228.011 to read as follows:
Sec. 228.011. TOLL PROJECTS IN CERTAIN COUNTIES. (a) This section applies only to a county acting under Chapter 284.
(b) The county is the entity that has primary responsibility for the financing, construction, and operation of a toll project located in the county.
(c) To the extent authorized by federal law or authorized or required by this title, the commission and the department shall assist the county in the financing, construction, and operation of a toll project in the county by allowing the county to use highway right-of-way owned by the department and to access the state highway system. In connection with the use by the county of improved state highway right-of-way, the county must enter into an agreement with the commission or the department as provided by Section 284.004(b).
(d) Subsections (b) and (c) do not limit the authority of the commission or the department to participate in the cost of acquiring, constructing, maintaining, or operating a turnpike project of the county under Chapter 284.
(e) Before the commission or the department may enter into a contract for the financing, construction, or operation of a proposed or existing toll project any part of which is located in the county, the commission or department shall provide the county the first option to finance, construct, or operate, as applicable, the portion of the toll project located in the county:
(1) on terms agreeable to the county, without the requirement of any payment to the commission or the department except as provided by Section 284.004(a); and
(2) in a manner determined by the county to be consistent with the practices and procedures by which the county finances, constructs, or operates a project.
(f) Except as provided by Section 284.004(a), an agreement entered into by the county and the commission or the department in connection with a project under Chapter 284 that is financed, constructed, or operated by the county and that is on or directly connected to the state highway system may not require the county to make any payments to the commission or the department.
(g) An agreement entered into by the county and the commission or department in connection with a project under Chapter 284 that is financed, constructed, or operated by the county and that is on or directly connected to a highway in the state highway system does not create a joint enterprise for liability purposes.
SECTION 4. Subchapter A, Chapter 228, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Section 228.012 to read as follows:
Sec. 228.012. TOLL PROJECTS WITHIN BOUNDARIES OF REGIONAL TOLLWAY AUTHORITY. (a) This section applies only to a toll project located within the boundaries of a regional tollway authority under Chapter 366.
(b) The tollway authority is the entity that has primary responsibility for the financing, construction, and operation of a toll project located within the boundaries of the authority.
(c) To the extent authorized by federal law or authorized or required by this title, the commission and the department shall assist the tollway authority in the financing, construction, and operation of a toll project located within the boundaries of the authority by allowing the authority to use highway right-of-way owned by the department and to access the state highway system.
(d) Subsections (b) and (c) do not limit the authority of the commission or the department to participate in the cost of acquiring, constructing, maintaining, or operating a turnpike project of the tollway authority under Chapter 366.
(e) Before the commission or the department may enter into a contract for the financing, construction, or operation of a proposed or existing toll project any part of which is located within the boundaries of a tollway authority, the commission or department shall provide the authority the first option to finance, construct, or operate, as applicable, the portion of the toll project located within the boundaries of the authority:
(1) on terms agreeable to the authority, without the requirement of any payment to the commission or the department; and
(2) in a manner determined by the authority to be consistent with the practices and procedures by which the authority finances, constructs, or operates a project.
(f) An agreement entered into by the tollway authority and the commission or the department in connection with a project under Chapter 366 that is financed, constructed, or operated by the authority and that is on or directly connected to the state highway system may not require the authority to make any payments to the commission or the department.
(g) An agreement entered into by the tollway authority and the commission or department in connection with a project under Chapter 366 that is financed, constructed, or operated by the authority and that is on or directly connected to a highway in the state highway system does not create a joint enterprise for liability purposes.
(h) Before a final contract execution by the department for any comprehensive development agreement project, the commissioners court for any county in which a majority of the project is located must pass a supporting resolution.
(i) Once the authority or regional transportation council has received notice from the department relating to a toll project, the authority has 90 days to exercise the first option to finance, construct, or operate, as applicable, the toll project.
SECTION 5. Section 284.001(3), Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows:
(3) "Project" means:
(A) a causeway, bridge, tunnel, turnpike, highway, ferry, or any combination of those facilities, including:
(i) [(A)] a necessary overpass, underpass, interchange, entrance plaza, toll house, service station, approach, fixture, and accessory and necessary equipment that has been designated as part of the project by order of a county;
(ii) [(B)] necessary administration, storage, and other buildings that have been designated as part of the project by order of a county; and
(iii) [(C)] all property rights, easements, and related interests acquired; or
(B) a turnpike project or system as those terms are defined by Section 370.003.
SECTION 6. Section 284.002, Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows:
Sec. 284.002. APPLICABILITY OF CHAPTER [TO CERTAIN COUNTIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT CORPORATIONS]. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), this chapter applies only to a county that[:
[(1)] has a population of 10,000 [50,000] or more [and borders the Gulf of Mexico or a bay or inlet opening into the gulf;
[(2) has a population of 1.5 million or more;
[(3) is adjacent to a county that has a population of 1.5 million or more; or
[(4) borders the United Mexican States].
(b) A local government corporation created under Chapter 431 in a county to which this chapter applies has the same powers as a county acting under this chapter, except as provided by Chapter 362.
SECTION 7. Section 284.003, Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows:
Sec. 284.003. PROJECT AUTHORIZED; CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION, AND COST. (a) A county, acting through the commissioners court of the county, or a local government corporation, without state approval, supervision, or regulation, may:
(1) construct, acquire, improve, operate, maintain, or pool a project located:
(A) exclusively in the county;
(B) in the county and outside the county; or
(C) in one or more counties adjacent to the county;
(2) issue tax bonds, revenue bonds, or combination tax and revenue bonds to pay the cost of the construction, acquisition, or improvement of a project;
(3) impose tolls or charges as otherwise authorized by this chapter;
(4) construct a bridge over a deepwater [deep water] navigation channel, if the bridge does not hinder maritime transportation; [or]
(5) construct, acquire, or operate a ferry across a deepwater navigation channel;
(6) in connection with a project, on adoption of an order exercise the powers of a regional mobility authority operating under Chapter 370; or
(7) enter into a comprehensive development agreement with a private entity to design, develop, finance, construct, maintain, repair, operate, extend, or expand a proposed or existing project in the county to the extent and in the manner applicable to the department under Chapter 223 or to a regional tollway authority under Chapter 366.
(b) The county or a local government corporation may exercise a power provided by Subsection (a)(6) only in a manner consistent with the other powers provided by this chapter. To the extent of a conflict between this chapter and Chapter 370, this chapter prevails.
(c) A project or any portion of a project that is owned by the county and licensed or leased to a private entity or operated by a private entity under this chapter to provide transportation services to the general public is public property used for a public purpose and exempt from taxation by this state or a political subdivision of this state.
(d) If the county constructs, acquires, improves, operates, maintains, or pools a project under this chapter, before December 31 of each even-numbered year the county shall submit to the department a plan for the project that includes the time schedule for the project and describes the use of project funds. The plan may provide for and permit the use of project funds and other money, including state or federal funds, available to the county for roads, streets, highways, and other related facilities in the county that are not part of a project under this chapter. A plan is not subject to approval, supervision, or regulation by the commission or the department.
(e) Except as provided by federal law, an action of a county taken under this chapter is not subject to approval, supervision, or regulation by a metropolitan planning organization.
(f) The county may enter into a protocol or other agreement with the commission or the department to implement this section through the cooperation of the parties to the agreement.
SECTION 8. Subchapter A, Chapter 284, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Sections 284.0031 and 284.0032 and amending Section 284.004 to read as follows:
Sec. 284.0031. OTHER ROAD, STREET, OR HIGHWAY PROJECTS. (a) The commissioners court of a county or a local government corporation, without state approval, supervision, or regulation may:
(1) authorize the use of surplus revenue of a project for the study, design, construction, maintenance, repair, or operation of roads, streets, highways, or other related facilities that are not part of a project under this chapter; and
(2) prescribe terms for the use of the surplus revenue, including the manner in which the roads, streets, highways, or other related facilities are to be studied, designed, constructed, maintained, repaired, or operated.
(b) To implement this section, a county may enter into an agreement with the commission, the department, a local governmental entity, or another political subdivision of this state.
(c) A county may not take an action under this section that violates or impairs a bond resolution, trust agreement, or indenture that governs the use of the revenue of a project.
(d) Except as provided by this section, a county has the same powers and may use the same procedures with respect to the study, financing, design, construction, maintenance, repair, or operation of a road, street, highway, or other related facility under this section as are available to the county with respect to a project under this chapter.
(e) Notwithstanding any other law, an authority created pursuant to Chapter 451 that is located primarily in a county with a population of more than 3.3 million to which this chapter applies and in which the voters have authorized the dedication of a portion of its sales and use tax revenue for street improvements and mobility projects within the authority's service area must account for the entire amount of that liability on its financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
Sec. 284.0032. TRANS-TEXAS CORRIDOR PROJECTS. If a county requests or is requested by the commission to participate in the development of a project under this chapter that has been designated as part of the Trans-Texas Corridor, in connection with the project and in addition to the other powers granted by this chapter, the county has all the powers of the department related to the development of a project that has been designated as part of the Trans-Texas Corridor.
Sec. 284.004. USE OF COUNTY PROPERTY AND STATE HIGHWAY ALIGNMENT, RIGHT-OF-WAY, AND ACCESS. (a) Notwithstanding any other law, under this chapter a county may use any county property, state highway right-of-way, or access to the state highway system [for a project under this chapter], regardless of when or how the property, right-of-way, or access is acquired. The department or the commission may require the county to comply with any covenant, condition, restriction, or limitation that affects state highway right-of-way, but may not:
(1) adopt rules or establish policies that have the effect of denying the county the use of the right-of-way or access that the county has determined to be necessary or convenient for the construction, acquisition, improvement, operation, maintenance, or pooling of a project under this chapter or the implementation of a plan under Section 284.003(d); or
(2) require the county to pay for the use of the right-of-way or access, except to reimburse the commission or department for actual costs incurred or to be incurred by a third party, including the federal government, as a result of that use by the county.
(b) If a project of the county under this chapter includes the proposed use of improved state highway right-of-way, the county and the commission or the department must enter into an agreement that includes reasonable terms to accommodate that use of the right-of-way by the county and to protect the interests of the commission and the department in the use of the right-of-way for operations of the department.
(c) Notwithstanding any other law, the commission and the department are not liable for any damages that result from a county's use of state highway right-of-way or access to the state highway system under this chapter, regardless of the legal theory, statute, or cause of action under which liability is asserted.
SECTION 9. Sections 284.008(c) and (d), Transportation Code, are amended to read as follows:
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), a project becomes a part of the state highway system and the commission shall maintain the project without tolls when:
(1) all of the bonds and interest on the bonds that are payable from or secured by revenues of the project have been paid by the issuer of the bonds or another person with the consent or approval of the issuer; or
(2) a sufficient amount for the payment of all bonds and the interest on the bonds to maturity has been set aside by the issuer of the bonds or another person with the consent or approval of the issuer in a trust fund held for the benefit of the bondholders.
(d) A [Before construction on a project under this chapter begins, a] county may request that the commission adopt an order stating that a [the] project will not become part of the state highway system under Subsection (c). If the commission adopts the order:
(1) Section 362.051 does not apply to the project;
(2) the project must be maintained by the county; and
(3) the project will not become part of the state highway system unless the county transfers the project under Section 284.011.
SECTION 10. Subchapter A, Chapter 284, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Section 284.0092 to read as follows:
Sec. 284.0092. AUDIT BY FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION. The accounts and records of a county relating to a project under this chapter located in a county that has a population of more than 3.4 million and is within 100 miles of the Gulf of Mexico are subject to audit by the Federal Highway Administration as deemed necessary by that agency.
SECTION 11. Subchapter A, Chapter 284, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Section 284.010 to read as follows:
Sec. 284.010. CONTRACTOR CONTRIBUTIONS PROHIBITED. A person who enters into a contract with a county under this chapter may not make a political contribution to a person who is a commissioner or county judge of the county or who is a candidate for the office of commissioner or county judge of the county.
SECTION 12. Sections 284.065(b) and (c), Transportation Code, are amended to read as follows:
(b) An existing project may be pooled in whole or in part with a new project or another existing project.
(c) A project may [not] be pooled more than once.
SECTION 13. Subtitle G, Title 6, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Chapter 371 to read as follows:
CHAPTER 371. PROVISIONS APPLICABLE TO MORE THAN
ONE TYPE OF TOLL PROJECT
Sec. 371.001. VEHICLES DISPLAYING "HYBRID VEHICLE" INSIGNIA. (a) In this section, "toll project" means a toll project described by Section 201.001(b), regardless of whether the toll project is:
(1) a part of the state highway system;
(2) subject to the jurisdiction of the department; or
(3) constructed or operated by the department or another entity authorized to construct or operate a toll project.
(b) A motor vehicle displaying the "hybrid vehicle" insignia authorized by Section 502.1861 in an easily readable location on the back of the vehicle may use a high occupancy vehicle lane located on a toll project regardless of the number of occupants in the vehicle unless the use would impair the receipt of federal transit funds.
SECTION 14. Subchapter D, Chapter 502, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Section 502.1861 to read as follows:
Sec. 502.1861. "HYBRID VEHICLE" INSIGNIA FOR CERTAIN MOTOR VEHICLES. (a) At the time of registration or reregistration of the motor vehicle, the department shall issue a specially designed "hybrid vehicle" insignia for a motor vehicle that draws propulsion energy from both gasoline or conventional diesel fuel and from a rechargeable energy storage system.
(b) The department shall issue a "hybrid vehicle" insignia under this section without the payment of any additional fee to a person who:
(1) applies to the department on a form provided by the department; and
(2) submits proof that the motor vehicle being registered is a vehicle described by Subsection (a).
SECTION 15. Section 370.031(c), Transportation Code, is repealed.
SECTION 16. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, Section 228.012, Transportation Code, as added by this Act, takes effect immediately if this Act receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, Section 228.012, Transportation Code, takes effect September 1, 2007.
SECTION 17. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2007.

source: Texas Legislature House website

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