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This legislation would amend the Transportation Code to allow for an alternative composition of regional mobility authority (RMA) boards of directors, allowing them to consist of county commissioners of the counties within the RMA.
Under current statute, the Governor appoints the chairman of the RMA board. The commissioners courts of each county appoints members. Board members serve two-year terms and cannot be elected officials or employees of TxDOT or a government entity within the geographic boundaries of the RMA.
HB 2702 seeks to remove the prohibition on elected officials and create an RMA which consists exclusively of County Commissioners -- but this alternative structure would only be triggered when at least two-thirds of the counties within the RMA decide to do so via resolution.
The Commissioners acting as RMA directors may elect one of their own to serve as presiding officer (in lieu of a governor's appointee).
House Bill 2702 seeks to give county commissioners within an RMA the power to 1) appoint themselves as RMA board of directors members, and 2) appoint an RMA presiding officer from their own ranks instead of the governor's appointee.
While the provision which requires two-thirds of counties to sign-off on this alternative structure seems like a sufficient check on smaller counties, it should be noted that currently, there are only two RMAs in Texas which have more than two counties. The North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority was created in 2004 and consists of Bowie, Cass, Cherokee, Gregg, Harrison, Panola, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Upshur, Van Zandt, and Wood counties. The Sulphur River Regional Mobility Authority was created in 2012 and consists of Delta, Hunt, and Lamar counties. Six other RMAs consist of a single county (Bexar, Cameron, El Paso, Grayson, Hidalgo, and Webb counties), and the Austin metro area has a two-county RMA (Travis and Williamson counties).
The excesses of the RMAs are well-documented. Giving more county-level control to these transportation agencies is in accord with our principle of Limited Government. In the interests of defending counties where there are toll road development plans in progress (particularly the ones that are smaller in population and in rural areas), we advise the legislature to amend HB 2702 to require every county commissioners court within each county in the RMA to pass a resolution before this alternative RMA board structure is triggered.