Celia Israel


Relieving our Transportation Crisis

This legislative session was billed as “the transportation session” and in the end, we did make strides towards relieving our transportation crisis:

  • Transportation funding: The state still faces significant budget challenges, even after voters approved Proposition 1 last fall. The Legislature has proposed directing $2.5 million more in sales tax revenue towards transportation funding in 2017-18 in a constitutional amendment subject to popular election this November.
  • High-speed rail: I heard bills requiring municipalities and counties to approve the construction of a private rail projects in committee, but they were never brought up for a vote.
  • Uber and Lyft: I opposed the statewide regulation of companies like Uber and Lyft to give locals a chance to work out their own agreements with these companies, instead of the state preempting this work.
  • Ending diversions from the State Highway Fund: I supported a bill to stop highway funds from being diverted to the DPS to make us honest about the budget and where that money came from.

I also filed many transportation bills that will help improve traffic and highway funding, as well as honor one of HD 50′s fallen heroes:

  • Telecommuting: Working with Senator Watson, I passed SB 1032, which would have made it easier for state employees to telecommute, greatly reducing rush hour traffic downtown without costing taxpayers a dime. I was disappointed that Governor Abbott vetoed this critical relief for Central Texas workers and commuters.
  • DMV data: I also passed HB 735, directing the DMV to keep a record of the number of alternatively fueled vehicles in the state so that we know how many cars currently pay less in gas taxes than others.
  • Deputy Jessica Hollis Memorial Highway: HB 734 was signed by the Governor on May 15 and will name FM 685 in Pflugerville after Deputy Jessica Hollis, who tragically lost her life in the line of duty last fall.
  • Bus on shoulders: HB 1324 would have allowed transit buses to drive on highway shoulders in order to bypass congestion. Although the bill gained broad-based support in the House, HB 1324 died in the Senate.

It was an honor to serve as your representative and as the only Central Texas representative on the House Transportation Committee. Central Texas growth has exacerbated our congestion issues. As someone who has lived here since 1982, I know we brought this upon ourselves. We didn’t plan and we didn’t take advantage of multi-modal solutions when we could have.