Just after the start of the third special session of the 83rd Texas Legislature, Speaker of the House Rep. Joe Straus of San Antonio excused over 35 members because of pressing business in their individual districts.
A transportation bill that passed the Senate this week will require 100 votes in the House in order to pass, but the missing members will likely keep the bill from getting enough votes to pass.
A struggling transportation bill during a third special session is losing more and more support, including that of Joe Straus, Texas’ Speaker of the House.
Less than a day into the summer’s third special session, the Texas Senate gave its approval to a transportation bill that failed to pass during a regular session and two consecutive special sessions. But that bill faces an uphill climb in the Texas House, including how the bill is viewed by Straus.
VIA has officially unveiled a proposed streetcar route that would run east-west along the Market and Commerce Street corridors downtown.
The route, which also includes a Cesar Chavez option, was popular with many people. VIA’s Chief Engagement Officer, and former congressman, Charlie Gonzalez, said the plans knocked off the table now are routes VIA couldn’t ignore: one that passed the Alamo and another at Hemisfair Park.
With distracted and drunk driving plaguing San Antonio and Bexar County, officials are taking drastic measures to help reduce injury and death from highway accidents.
The Texas Department of Transportation is helping save lives with vehicle impact attenuators, or crash barrels, which look like sand-filled trash cans and are located in spots where there is an exit or where the highway divides into an upper and lower level.
The attenuators are meant to soften the blow if a driver is heading toward what would otherwise be a solid concrete wall.
Update (2:30 p.m.): The Senate took the house transportation plan, replaced it with their own funding mechanism, and then passed it on a unanimous vote.
The original House bill's plan to end the gas tax diversion has been eliminated, and the Senate has elected to go with the 50-50 oil and gas industry tax split in their own version of the bill. The Senate also established a $6 billion floor for the Rainy Day Fund, which must be maintained for the State Highway Fund to get the money from the oil and gas industry tax.
The Texas House has given initial approval to a transportation funding plan that uses money from the gas tax rather than tapping the Rainy Day Fund.
As it stands today, and has since 1991, 20 cents of every gallon used to fill up your car has gone to the state's highway fund with the stipulation that five cents of it would go to fund education.
House Joint Resolution 2, authored by Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, would stop that diversion. Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, is the co-sponsor of the bill and explained the difference between the House bill and the Senate version.
Some House Republicans feel that too much time is being spent debating abortion legislation during the special session and not enough time on roads.
The House first assigned a set of four abortion bills to a select committee on Monday, giving the bills a later start than their Senate companions, but despite that there are some who feel the bills have a fighting chance.