Today, State Senator Glenn Hegar issued the following statement:
“I am extremely proud of the work of the conference committee on HB 300—the Texas Department of Transportation Sunset legislation—and I am very disappointed by the unfair attacks made by Senator Carona against the committee, the process that we employed to seek a committee report that would pass both the Texas House and Senate and his extremely unfair and harsh attacks against me personally. Senator Carona’s distortions sadden me because not only are they patently false, but because he is also attempting to reinvent history.
Throughout the entire sunset process, I have strived to make the process open and fully transparent and I am proud of the comments that have been made by my colleagues when I presented a new committee substitute to HB 300 on Monday, May 18 before the Senate Transportation Committee and then again on Monday, May 25 when the bill was presented on the Senate floor. I was specifically proud that Senators Nichols, Watson, Shapleigh, and Carona all played a very large role in crafted a strong senate version of the bill. My proudest moment in four sessions as a State legislator was during this hearing when Senators Carona, Nichols, Watson and Shapleigh all took turns complementing my efforts to have a very transparent, open, and deliberative process among the Senate members. One Senator even noted that the process was the most impressive in all of his years of the legislature.
In regards to the work of the conference committee, I have attempted to include my Senate colleagues and conferees in the process, most especially Senator Carona and his staff. Unfortunately, after many days of hard work by many individuals, it became very clear to the conference committee that the votes simply did not exist in the Texas House to pass the local option tax or to get the requisite three House signatures on that conference report.
I greatly respect and admire Senator Carona’s work on Transportation issues and for his leadership of the Senate Transportation Committee. It is certainly his prerogative to criticize the bill, vote against it, or even filibuster it. It is, however, not his privilege to hold the bill hostage because a single provision that he wanted was not included and I take exception to his efforts to change the narrative of the hard work, serious deliberations, and the long hours that went into producing a TxDOT Sunset bill. Ultimately, a conference committee report was produced that reflected the wishes of a majority of legislators, a majority of conferees, and most importantly a majority of Texans.
I have learned much during this process. I know this, HB 300 is good legislation that moves Texas forward and will make the Texas Department of Transportation more efficient and responsive to the people of Texas. I also know that the Texas House and Senate must take action next session to prevent important Sunset bills from being used as catch all omnibus bills that don’t achieve the reform purpose of the sunset process.