TAD works to move milk more efficiently
Also: Runoff elections underway
By J Pete Laney and Shayne Woodard
TAD Governmental Affairs
As we complete the spring season and head towards the end of school and the start of summer, Austin is abuzz with numerous legislative committee interim hearings. Many of the interim charges include direct and indirect impacts of looming budgetary items related to last summer’s devastating Hurricane Harvey.
One issue TAD and other agriculture groups are watching is the complaints related to vehicle damage to rural farm-to-market and county roads, primarily in the oil and gas production areas of the state. At stake is how to pay for the upkeep and testing of these roads, not just from the wear and tear of numerous vehicles, but from any damage caused by oversize and overweight traffic. On April 17, the House Transportation Committee and Energy Resources Committee held a joint hearing to evaluate the impact energy exploration and production has on state and county roads. Eventually, they will recommend how to improve road quality in areas impacted by these activities.
While legislation has been passed in previous legislative sessions earmarking funds for county reimbursement, the counties contend the funds are not adequate to offset the continued road impact by high and heavy traffic. There is discussion about tapping into the so called “Rainy Day Fund.” The $11 billion Economic Stabilization Fund or “Rainy Day Fund” is being targeted as a funding source for many state projects, not just transportation. Money in the Rainy Day Fund comes from oil and gas severance taxes.
Last session, TAD successfully advocated for a change in the law that will allow higher weight limits for milk tankers, allowing more milk to be hauled per load. This will save cooperatives transportation costs while reducing the number of trips and wear and tear on the roads and highways throughout the state. The law was changed with input from Texas Department of Transportation engineers to ensure that the design of the new higher capacity trailers would not damage the roads. In addition, the law requires safety features to be integrated into the tractors and trailers.
Later this fall, dairy cooperatives are expected to start rolling out the higher capacity trailers that will allow an additional 1,000 gallons of milk to be transported to processing plants located in the urban areas of Texas. TAD will work with our cooperatives and our third-party hauling affiliates as these trailers are put on the road. A lot of time and effort was spent to ensure the higher capacity trailers will not negatively impact Texas roads and highways – a message TAD will be working to convey to local officials and the public. The impact to the roads of the higher capacity trailers is less than a tanker running under an overweight 20/60 permit which allowed less capacity. The legislation does contain a formula to split money between the State of Texas and local counties.
Back to the voting booth
Early voting began May 14 and runs through Friday, May 18, for the May 22 primary runoff elections. Democratic voters statewide will select their gubernatorial nominee, and no statewide Republican runoffs are on the ballot. As a reminder, here is a listing of runoff races:
Lupe Valdez vs. Andrew White
HD 4: Stuart Spitzer vs. Keith Bell
HD 8: Thomas McNutt vs. Cody Harris
HD 13: Ben Leman vs. Jill Wolfskill
HD 62: Reggie Smith vs. Brent Lawson
HD 121: Matt Bebee vs. Steve Allison
HD 54: Scott Cosper (incumbent) vs. Brad Buckley
HD 37: Rene Oliveira (incumbent) vs. Alex Dominguez
HD 45: Rebecca Bell-Metereau vs. Erin Zwiener
HD 46: Sheryl Cole vs. Chito Vela
HD 47: Elaina Fowler vs. Vikki Goodwin
HD 64: Andrew Morris vs. Matt Pruneda
HD 109: Deshaundra Lockhart Jones vs. Carl Sherman
CD 2: State Rep. Kevin Roberts vs. Dan Crenshaw
CD 5: State Rep. Lance Gooden vs. Bunni Pounds
CD 6: Ron Wright vs. Jake Ellzey
CD 21: Chip Roy vs. Matt McCall
CD 27: Bech Bruun vs. Michael Cloud
CD 3: Sam Johnson vs. Lorie Burch
CD 6: Jana Sanchez vs. Ruby Faye Sanchez
CD 7: Lizzie Pannill Fletcher vs. Laura Moser
CD 10: Mike Siegel vs. Tawana Walter-Cadien
CD 21: Joseph Kopser vs. Mary Street Wilson
CD 22: Letitia Plummer vs. Sri Preston Kulkarni
CD 23: Gina Ortiz Jones vs. Rick Trevino
CD 25: Chris Perri vs. Julie Oliver
CD 27: Eric Holguin vs. Roy Barrera
CD 31: Mary Hegar vs. Christine Mann
CD 32: Lillian Salerno vs. Colin Allred
As we head into the summer and move ever so closer to the upcoming session, you can follow Austin policymakers at the following websites: