Roads are absolutely necessary for our state to properly function. The Texas road system has served the Texas economy well, but we are at a point where we must attend to our transportation infrastructure if we want to keep the Texas Miracle alive. Furthermore, meeting the present and coming challenges the right way is crucial in West Texas, where the oil is pumping at a record rate, and our roads are meeting their greatest test. This is why I’m thankful that the Texas Legislature rose to the challenge of improving our roads and we are walking away with legislation that is making Texas safer and more efficient well into the future.
It was an honor to serve this legislative session as Vice Chairman of the House Transportation Committee where I was able to evaluate and guide important, transportation-related legislation through the process.
One of the biggest victories we had for Permian Basin roads was securing record-level funding for the Texas Department of Transportation Odessa district. This will help us build new roads, repair overpasses, make intersections safer, smoothen bumpy drives, and, most importantly, help us fund a complete rebuild of I-20 by adding a third lane in each direction.
I am also proud that Gov. Abbott signed a bill that I authored and passed that will ensure those knuckleheads who keep crashing into our bridges and overpasses are held accountable. House Bill 799 creates a Class B misdemeanor offense for the operation of a vehicle without the applicable license or permit that results in damage to a bridge or overpass because of the height of the vehicle. It also holds the owner of the vehicle strictly liable for the cost of any damages, ensuring taxpayers are not left to pay the bill for the driver’s mistake.
Furthermore, my Permian Basin counterpart, Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland), and I were able to secure funds to bring much needed relief to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in our part of the state. Our amendment to the state budget will add $500,000 in funding to bolster salaries for hard-to-fill positions at DPS driver license offices in the Permian Basin, where these positions have become necessary due to exploding oil and gas production, and a tight labor market.
Finally, a bill I joint authored, House Bill 4280, along with the budget adopted for the next two years, secured an additional $250 million for the County Transportation Infrastructure Fund, which will ensure our country roads across the state are up-to-date and safe. Permian Basin counties will benefit tremendously from this.
This was a great legislative session for Texas and its drivers. While the work on Texas roads is never over, I can confidently say Texas will be better for the efforts I led on this year during the legislative session.
God Bless Texas!