Monday, December 7, 2015

Select Committee on I77 tolls...and a bunch of other stuff

Late Friday afternoon, Mollie Young (Dir. of Communications, Speaker Moore's Office) sent out a press release finally announcing the formation of the Select Committee within the NC House mentioned by the Speaker back on November 16th.

Back then, it sounded like this committee was going to be specific to the I77 HOT Lanes project.  In fact, it even gave anti-toll opponents a little hope that maybe it was being formed as a way to kill the project.  The announcement of its formation coincided with the planning for the I77 summit which of course didn't draw the Governor and was blown off by Charlotte

The details in the press release should temper any optimism to a great degree that this committee will quickly achieve the desired result.

Here are a a couple of quick observations...

The committee is Chaired by John Torbett of Gaston County.  Torbett has been a good soldier for the pro-toll forces in the House.  Torbett was a co-sponsor of an earlier toll related bill H267.  We've covered the shenanigans around that bill extensively.  See herehere and here for a sampling.  Having Rep Torbett with his hand on the reigns of this Committee should not give the anti-toll crowd a warm fuzzy feeling.  This is the same Rep Torbett who "forgot" to file any campaign reports this entire year and recently had his campaign committee temporarily shut down by the State BOE.

As further evidence this Select Committee is not stacked with anti-toll politicians, you'll find Rep John Fraley's name also on the list.  Fraley is pro-toll all the way as we told you about here.

Finally, unlike the select committee setup by former Speaker Thom Tillis which was focused on ramming through the idea of using Public Private Partnerships which helped give birth to the I77 project, this new committee covers a broad expanse of transportation issues and has a lot more members.  It is hard to see his committee getting to the point of suggesting ways of killing the I77 project any time soon.

Here's hoping that's not the case

Press release and entire committee list below...

Speaker Announces New Transportation Select Committee
Will Review I-77 Managed Lanes Project and Other Issues

Raleigh, NC – Today, Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) announced the House Members who will serve on the newly formed House Select Committee On Strategic Transportation Planning And Long Term Funding Solutions.

“The appointment of this committee is a crucial next step in addressing the growing transportation and infrastructure needs in North Carolina,” Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston) remarked. Torbett will serve as the Committee Chair. “This committee will allow the House to continue to build on the successes we achieved in last year’s budget.  I am humbled by the opportunity to chair the committee and look forward to leading North Carolina into a more competitive future by addressing the needs of our transportation network.”

The Committee will have the authority to look at a number of issues including, but not limited to, current and future transportation projects, such as the I-77 managed lanes project or the I-95 corridor improvements.  The Committee may also study port modernization, rail access, technological advancements in infrastructure construction, autonomous vehicles, and the impact our transportation network has on North Carolina’s global competitiveness and economic growth potential.

“There has been a tremendous amount of discussion and information that deserves scrutiny and reconsideration as we look at how the State is going to fund transportation in the future,” stated Rep. Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg), who will serve as Vice-Chair of the Committee. “This committee will allow us the opportunity to review current concerns and ensure future decisions are made with the best interest of all North Carolinians.”

The following House Members were appointed to serve on the committee:

Representative John Torbett (Chair)
Representative Charles Jeter (Vice-Chair)
Representative Phil Shepard (Vice-Chair)
Representative Frank Iler (Vice-Chair)
Representative Jamie Boles
Representative Debra Conrad
Representative Josh Dobson
Representative Nelson Dollar
Representative Jeffery Elmore
Representative John Fraley
Representative Pat Hurley
Representative Linda Johnson
Representative Susan Martin
Representative Michele Presnell
Representative Paul Tine
Representative Rena Turner
Representative William Brisson
Representative Becky Carney
Representative Ken Goodman
Representative Howard Hunter III

The Committee will meet at the call of the Chair, and plans to hold its first meeting the week of December 14th.
16 West Jones Street | Room 2304 | Raleigh, NC 2

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