NPT Capitol: House (Pickett) and Senate (Carona) negotiations get down to TxDOT local option tax
As House and Senate conferees put the final touches on the jointly hashed out TxDoT sunset bill, one sticking point remains — and it’s getting heated.
That sticking point is language that would give metropolitan areas the ability to call elections in order to authorize raises in automobile fees and gas taxes — in order to pay for transportation projects.
State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, says he has a list of 77 House members who are willing to vote for the TxDOT bill if it has the local option language in it.
That’s surprising, considering the House took a vote on leaving the language in earlier this week. It went down 86-59.
State Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, with a wry smile, said that number was “ambitious.” State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, went further saying that the 77 names Carona has simply aren’t there and that something “close to deceit” has been going on.
According to Pickett, lobbyists have been rounding up state Reps and asking them to sign a petition that asks the conference committee to keep the debate open. Those numbers are what Carona is touting, said Pickett.
It’s all getting a bit heated now. Carona said that the only thing in the way of getting this bill passed is Pickett. Pickett went outside of the chamber about an hour ago and openly argued with the lobbyists who were shopping for signatures.
This morning, at a rally on the Capitol’s southern steps, a Tarrant County Judge called for those who oppose the local option language to “get out of the way” while supporters chanted “let us vote!,” reported the Fort Worth Star Telegram. (Carona spoke at the rally.) According to the Austin Chronicle they were complemented by a “radical anti-tax crowd.”
More to follow…
Update: Things might have calmed down a little now. Isset and Carona are sat on a windowsill in the House chatting rather amicably. Meanwhile, Pickett and House Republican Caucus leader Larry Taylor are deep in conversation.