The House Committee on Transportation held a hearing recently which included a discussion of the energy sector’s impact on county roads. For years, counties have been looking for ways to mitigate the cost of heavy trucks running on county roads designed for much lighter vehicles.
This interim charge — to evaluate the impact energy exploration and production have on state and county roads and make recommendations on how to improve road quality in areas impacted by these activities — provides counties the opportunity to discuss the full scope of the impact.
On hand to provide the county story were Karnes County Commissioner Shelby Dupnik, Victoria County Commissioner Danny Garcia and DeWitt County Judge Daryl Fowler, also representing the Eagle Ford Shale coalition of counties.
“The ultimate goal is to keep the wheels of industry turning, because we understand the benefits,” Fowler said in his testimony. However, Fowler emphasized that road maintenance and construction makes up 57 percent of DeWitt County’s budget. He went on to offer a solution that would allow those energy production counties to retain a percentage of the state severance tax, which currently goes to the Rainy Day Fund.
To watch the county official’s testimony, visit the Committee Broadcast Archives site, and select the April 17 Transportation Committee hearing that begins at 1:09 p.m. Testimony starts at the one hour mark.
Other Transportation Hearings
The House Transportation Committee also held hearings recently to discuss the following charges.
April 17, 10 a.m.
Study the ability of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to deliver highway construction projects that reduce congestion and improve mobility, including the Department's options and limitations related to contracting. Make recommendations to improve the Department's ability to complete complex projects on time and under cost.
April 18, 9 a.m.
Study the efficacy of existing transportation finance mechanisms from state, regional and local perspectives. Identify opportunities to improve existing transportation finance mechanisms and investigate the feasibility of developing new ones.
Study Texas' various toll authorities and evaluate their transparency and stakeholder responsiveness. Make recommendations to improve the state oversight of toll authorities.
The committee is expected to issue a report with recommendations on all of its interim charges prior to the beginning of the next legislative session in January 2019.