AUSTIN - A transportation bill containing a toll-road moratorium and crafted to satisfy the concerns of Gov. Rick Perry is in for some more tweaking after the Texas Senate disagreed Friday with House changes to the measure.
The bill now moves to a House-Senate committee that will attempt to negotiate a compromise.
A formal agreement cannot be reached until Monday, once the House is back in session and names its conference committee members. But Republican Sen. Tommy Williams of The Woodlands, the lead Senate negotiator, said informal talks could take place before then.
The roads bill must be addressed before the Legislature adjourns May 28 or lawmakers will be called back to a special session, Perry has said.
ďI donít think this is going to be something that takes a long time. I think itís a couple of hours to get these issues resolved between the two chambers,Ē Williams said.
Williams did not cite specifics in the House legislation that he didnít like. But he said a number of changes were made in the House on Thursday that need to be gone over carefully.
The legislation is intended to resemble a bill lawmakers already sent to Perry that he objected to and said legislators needed to rework.
Perry faced a Friday deadline to decide whether to veto the original bill. His office did not immediately comment on the Senateís latest action.
Though Perry spoke out weeks ago against a moratorium on private toll projects - and toll roads are a cornerstone of his Trans-Texas Corridor superhighway - he said that wasn't his main objection to the first bill.
The new legislation also contains a moratorium, but provides some toll road exemptions. For instance, the Interstate 69 corridor in the Rio Grande Valley is exempt.
Perry opposed parts of the first proposal he said would allow local communities to place liens on Texas rights of way. He said the measure also put regional projects in jeopardy and cut some local governments out of funding.
Both the initial bill and the new incarnation tighten controls on comprehensive development agreements, used in contracts for private-public road-building.
The first bill reduced their maximum duration from 70 years to 40 years. The compromise bill would allow the agreements to last up to 50 years.
The original transportation bill is HB1892.
The compromise bill is SB792.