Texas special session to address TxDOT, toll roads

| 6/30/2009

A special session of the Texas Legislature is scheduled to convene Wednesday, July 1, to address unresolved issues from the regular session that wrapped up a month ago.

The topics for consideration at the statehouse are expected to focus on reauthorization of the functions of five state agencies that are due to expire before the next regular session, including the Texas Department of Transportation. Without reapproval, the agency would have to start dismantling this year.

Other agenda items will cover legislation allowing TxDOT to issue $2 million in voter-approved general obligation bonds for highway improvements.

The most contentious issue that lawmakers are expected to tackle deals with extending the authority of TxDOT and a regional mobility authority to enter into agreements with private companies to build roads.

Texas law now mandates that authority must go away by Sept. 1, with the exception of a short list of proposed roads that have until 2011.

During the regular session there were attempts to extend the deal-making authority for as much as six years. Passage of the bill is likely to hinge on the acceptance of putting limits on tolling contracts.

Restrictions on toll contracts could include limiting non-compete clauses, limits on how long tolls can be charged, and a requirement that TXDOT submit non-toll options to the Legislature for evaluation.

The special session is expected to wrap up over the July Fourth weekend.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Texas in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.