The Chairs of the Texas House and Senate Transportation Committee have filed identical bills to put more punch into transportation projects this session.
Texas Rail Advocates supports the Transportation Chairs forward thinking on both tracks and sees strong interest building on these measures. See a complete list of bills we are tracking at http://texasrailadvocates.org/2021-texas-legislature-rail-issues/
Bring back the Texas Mobility Fund
If approved by the legislature, Senate Bill 1455 from Transportation Chair Robert Nichols (R) and House Bill 2219 from House Chair Terry Canales (D) would revive the Texas Mobility Fund which voters approved in 2001 – Proposition 15 – and which expired at the end of 2014. This allowed the acceleration of numerous mobility projects throughout the state. If the measure becomes law, TxDOT could once again enter into long-term obligations for highway and public transportation projects secured by future revenue.
The Texas Transportation Commission would determine the projects to be bonded, the length to be a maximum of 30 years.
Broaden Transportation Reinvestment Zones
Seeing the need for transportation infrastructure and demand outpacing funding, the Texas Legislature recently established a tool that local entities could use to advance a broad range of transportation projects. Transportation Reinvestment Zones (TRZ) allow the capture of a portion of the increase in property taxes as an area gets developed, and those funds are plowed back into areawide transportation related projects. Cities, counties and ports have been able to create TRZ's but only cities and ports have bonding powers.
House Joint Resolution 99, filed by House Transportation Chair Canales, would broaden the scope to allow counties to join cities and ports in issuing bonds or notes.
If voters approve HJR 99, TRZs' would allow a county to promote a transportation project and finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area. Repayment of bonds or notes would be based on increases in ad valorem tax revenues imposed on property in the area.
"We are pleased to see strong bi-partisan support on transportation bills filed by leaders in both chambers," according to Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody. "As Texas continues to grow non-stop we have to find more tools to use in the transportation toolbelt for moving both people and goods. Resurrecting the Texas Mobility Fund and allowing counties to issue bonds for a Transportation Reinvestment Zone are good ideas that need to pass this session."