Updated March 18, 2021 - TRA Austin -
Update: A number of bills which are being supported by Texas Rail Advocates can be found on our Under The Dome 2021 rail issues webpage http://texasrailadvocates.org/2021-texas-legislature-rail-issues/
Those include a significant bill filed before the close on March 12 to re-establish the Texas Mobility Fund (Nichols/Canales), expanding Transportation Reinvestment Zones (Canales), a joint resolution for funding public transportation, bikeways, sidewalks (Miles), a Landowner Bill of Rights (Deshotel) and a study of vehicle impact on highways (Nichols/Canales).
With the last flurry of bills filed at the Capitol in Austin Friday March 12th, we've started to sort through the good, bad and ugly of bills that affect freight and passenger rail in Texas this session.
Not unlike past sessions, there was a last minute dump of bills from rural House legislators intent on killing any chance of high-speed rail taking hold in Texas. It remains to be seen if these bills will gain any traction in committee seeing that state lawmakers have pressing issues of a failed electric grid, a tightrope act on balancing a budget and upcoming squabbles on redistricting along with facing Covid-19 pandemic challenges.
The last week of filing has left us with a flurry of filed rail legislation, and it’s mostly Representatives Cody Harris, Ben Leman and newcomer Jake Ellzey attacking a private company, Texas Central, intent on building a high-speed rail line between Houston and the DFW area. You can follow these rail bills and others that have already been filed on this Texas Rail Advocates page http://texasrailadvocates.org/2021-texas-legislature-rail-issues/
Here is a list of all the rail bills that were filed this past week that we will be adding to our watch list:
HB 3309 by Cody Harris (an eminent domain bill): Relating to option contracts to acquire real property for high-speed rail projects.
HB 3310 by Jake Ellzey (a “property acquisition” bill): Relating to the acquisition of necessary real property for the construction of a high-speed rail project.
HB 3312 by Cody Harris (an eminent domain bill): Relating to the disposition of real property acquired for high-speed rail projects.
HB 3633 by Ben Leman: Relating to establishing a High Speed Rail Legislative Review Committee, authorizing a fee.
Representative Jake Ellzey also filed HB 3311 relating to the composition of the statewide passenger rail system (non-high speed rail), coordinated by TxDOT.
Another bill under review is HB 3954 by Representative Richard Pena Raymond, relating to the safety standards of certain rail employees, requiring an occupational permit. This bill would add additional requirements for the hiring of covered rail employees by railroads at the Mexican border.