State Sen. John Carona, still smarting from the death of his local-option gas tax plan, is considering a filibuster of the adoption of the Texas Department of Transportation sunset bill. The local option tax was stripped by a conference committee report that was not shown to Transportation Chair Carona or Vice-Chair Kirk Watson, but signed and filed by Senate conferees Glenn Hegar, Chuy Hinojosa and Robert Nichols. “If you are not going to address the urgent issues, and just pass a stripped-down version…are we better off having a sunset bill or not?” Carona asked. “If you don’t force the Legislature to deal with urgent funding issues, I don’t think we need it (the sunset bill.) Carona laid the death of the local option tax plan at the feet of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ignored Carona’s suggestion that Sen. Eliot Shapleigh be appointed to the conference committee. Instead, Dewhurst appointed Hinojosa, whose vote was essential in stripping the local option tax from the sunset bill. “It’s not about what’s best for the state of Texas, it’s all about the political careers of David Dewhurst and Rick Perry,” Carona said, referring to Dewhurst’s U.S. Senate aspirations and Perry’s re-election campaign. He was also unhappy that Hegar circulated an alternative conference committee report while Carona was continuing to negotiate with House members. That undercut his efforts, and also meant that the top two members of Senate Transportation were out of the loop on the final TxDOT sunset bill.
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