SENATE APPROVES TRANSPORTATION COMPROMISE
(AUSTIN) — The Senate approved a bill Monday aimed at striking a balance between the views of the Legislature and the Governor's Office on how future transportation projects will be built and funded. A previously approved bill would have halted construction on nearly all privately funded toll roads for two years, and would have restricted the scope of future private toll projects. But Governor Perry threatened to not only veto the measure, but then call a special session on transportation if the Legislature didn't come up with a bill that Perry could support.
Monday's bill, SB 972, came out of exhaustive negotiations between the Legislature, the Governor, and other stakeholders, said the principal author, Senator Tommy Williams of The Woodlands. The bill lengthens the maximum term of a private toll project from 40 to 50 years, and includes new exemptions for other road projects around the state. County toll road authorities would get the right of first refusal on local projects, based on a market valuation of the future cost and revenue of a transportation project. The bill will now head to the House for further consideration.
Also Monday, the Senate passed a bill by Greenville Senator Robert Deuell that lengthens the review process that has to take place before a hospital can withdraw life sustaining treatment for a patient. Under current law, when a hospital decides to end life sustaining care, relatives or guardians of that patient have 10 days to find a new hospital that agrees to continue care for that patient. Deuell's bill would begin with a seven-day review period, including a hearing before an ethics committee attended by the family and their advocates, before that countdown starts. Following that, the family would have 21 days to find a new hospital, and if they cannot, there would be a 20 day judicial review process before care can be ended. The bill would also prohibit withdrawing food or water from a patient, even if ventilators, dialysis machines, and other life support systems are turned off.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, May 15, at 8 a.m. to consider the Local and Uncontested Calendar, and will meet in regular session at 11 a.m.