Transportation

H.B. 20 (Simmons/Nichols) - Transportation Planning: provides, among other things, that: (1) the Texas Transportation Commission by rule shall develop and implement a performance-based planning and programming process dedicated to providing the executive and legislative branches of government with indicators that quantify and qualify progress toward attaining all Texas Department of Transportation goals and objectives established by the legislature and the commission; (2) the commission by rule shall develop and implement performance metrics and performance measures as part of: (a) the review of strategic planning in the statewide transportation plan, rural transportation plans, and unified transportation program; (b) the evaluation of decision-making on projects selected for funding in the unified transportation program and statewide transportation improvement program; and (c) the evaluation of project delivery for projects in the department’s letting schedule; (3) each metropolitan planning organization (MPO) - or department district if there is no MPO - shall develop a 10-year transportation plan for the use of the funding allocated to the region; (4) the department shall assist the planning organizations and districts by providing in a timely manner, such information as is reasonably requested by the organizations; (5) the first four years of the plan developed under (3), above, shall be developed to meet the transportation improvement plan requirements of federal law; (6) for an area that is not within the boundaries of an MPO, the district shall develop the plan with input from city and county elected officials and transportation officials in the region; (7) each MPO or district shall develop its own project recommendation criteria, which must include consideration of: (a) projected improvements to congestion and safety; (b) projected effects on economic development opportunities for residents of the region; (c) available funding; (d) effects on the environment, including air quality; (e) socioeconomic effects, including disproportionately high and adverse health or environmental effects on minority or low-income neighborhoods; and (f) any other factors deemed appropriate by the planning organization; (8) the commission by rule shall: (a) prioritize and approve projects included in the statewide transportation plan in order to provide financial assistance, shall under this chapter; (b) establish a performance-based process for setting funding levels for the categories of projects in the department’s unified transportation program; and (c) establish a scoring system for prioritizing projects for which financial assistance is sought from the commission by MPOs or districts; (9) the department’s use of design-build is limited by the bill; (10) the speaker of the house of representatives shall appoint nine members to a House Select Committee on Transportation Planning and designate one member as chair; (11) the lieutenant governor shall appoint five members to a Senate Select Committee on Transportation Planning and designate one member as chair; and (12) the committees established under (10) and (11), above, meeting separately or jointly, shall review, study, and evaluate numerous criteria related to transportation planning. (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 1252 (Pickett/Nichols) - Motor Vehicle Weight Enforcement: provides that: (1) the Department of Public Safety (DPS) must establish by rule uniform weighing procedures for weight enforcement officers to ensure an accurate weight is obtained for a motor vehicle; (2) DPS is authorized to revoke or rescind the authority of a weight enforcement officer who fails to comply with the rules described in (1), above; and (3) it is an affirmative defense to prosecution for certain offenses related to operating an overweight vehicle if the weight enforcement officer fails to follow the rules described in (1), above, when determining the weight of the vehicle. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

H.B. 2303 (Kuempel/Huffman) - Off-Highway Vehicles: adds the driving of off-highway vehicles to the recreational use statute, which limits a premises owner’s liability for tort purposes. (Effective immediately.)

S.J.R. 5 (Nichols/Pickett) - Transportation Funding: proposes an amendment to the Texas Constitution to provide that: (1) in each state fiscal year, the comptroller shall deposit to the credit of the state highway fund $2.5 billion of the net revenue derived from the imposition of the state’s general sales and use tax that exceeds the first $28 billion of that revenue coming into the treasury in that state fiscal year (until 2032); (2) in each state fiscal year, the comptroller shall deposit to the credit of the state highway fund an amount equal to 35% of the net revenue derived from the motor vehicle sales tax that exceeds the first $5 billion of that revenue coming into the treasury in that state fiscal year (until 2029); (3) money deposited to the credit of the state highway fund under the bill may be appropriated only to construct, maintain, or acquire rights-of-way for public roadways other than toll roads or to repay the principal of and interest on general obligation bonds; (4) the legislature by adoption of a resolution approved by a record vote of two-thirds of the members of each house may direct the comptroller to reduce the amount of money deposited to the credit of the state highway fund under the bill, except that the comptroller may be directed to make that reduction only: (a) in the state fiscal year in which the resolution is adopted, or in either of the following two state fiscal years; and (b) by an amount or percentage that does not result in a reduction of more than 50% of the amount that would otherwise be deposited to the fund; and (5) the legislature by adoption of a resolution approved by a record vote of a majority of the members of each house of the legislature may extend the 2032 and 2029 deadlines in (1) and (2), above, in 10-year increments. (Effective if approved at the election on November 3, 2015.)

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