Commentary

Governor's veto pen used to push toll roads

The 81st Legislative Session was one of the most active in many years. Active, that is, for the number of bills filed.

Even though a bill makes it through the complicated legislative process it still has to make it past the governor's desk. He has the option to sign the bill into law, veto the bill or not sign it and it becomes law without his signature.

One bill that he vetoed was House Bill 2142, which related to the promotion of toll road projects by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). HB 2142 would have authorized the department to conduct informational campaigns about the status of pending or ongoing state highway toll projects, rather than promotional campaigns for the development and use of toll projects or toll roads.

Current law authorizes the TxDOT to engage in marketing, advertising, and other activities to promote the development and use of toll projects. However, during a review of the department's systems, practices and procedures in the sunset process, the Sunset Advisory Commission adopted a recommendation to strengthen the lobbying prohibitions that apply to the department and to prohibit the use of department money to influence the passage or defeat of a legislative measure.

The commission's report cited the implementation and design of the department's Keep Texas Moving campaign as a tolling and Trans-Texas Corridor outreach campaign, including a website, a newsletter, and radio, television, print, billboard and Internet advertising. Several members of the legislature and the public questioned the use of state money for such a campaign.

The bill specif ied t hat t he department was not to engage in marketing, advertising or other activities for the purpose of influencing public opinion about the use of toll roads or the use of tolls as a financial mechanism.

Gosh, wonder why he vetoed that one.

I guess that the veto is part of the checks and balances system that makes Texas government work. Just hard for me to understand why when both houses work to pass a bill that one person can knock out five months of work with the stroke of a pen.

Of course, it is no secret that Gov. Perry is a supporter of toll roads. It is also no secret that he is still a bit upset that the public opposition finally put an end to his Trans Texas Corridor plans.

On the other hand I am a big opponent of toll roads, but when you look at the whole picture it might be time for me to reconsider that position. Texas is growing and growing fast. At one time we were touted across the nation as having the best roads in the country. This is not the case today.

I am adamantly opposed to any tolling of existing roads. It could be time however to consider tolling as a way to pay for some of the new road construction that the state will have to complete in the coming years. I believe that we need to maintain control of any of toll roads constructed and we certainly do not need foreign entities collecting the tolls.

I personally have a TX Tag and use 130 on occasion.


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2009-07-09 digital edition



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