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On Tuesday, March 31, 2009, the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) released a statement supporting SB 17. Like others, upon our initial reading of SB 17, it appeared that the bill would create strong public safeguards against bad private toll road deals for the citizens of Texas. We have since noticed a particular clause in the bill that would create a loophole for the Texas Department of Transportation (TX DOT). Below is the clause:
Sec. 373.057. ALTERATION OF PROCESS. (a) The department or the applicable local toll project entity may waive any step or steps of the process under this subchapter.
(b) The department and the applicable toll project entity may, by written agreement, extend any time limit under this subchapter.
This clause appears to allow TX DOT to avoid the consumer protections laid out in the bill at its discretion. That is not what we originally thought the bill would do.
For this reason, TexPIRG suspends our support for SB 17. We are currently consulting attorneys on the matter and taking all necessary steps to analyze sections of the bill that may harm Texas consumers.
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