El Paso Times 4/6/14 By Marty Schladen
AUSTIN — Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, already led the job of putting a massive Texas road-funding measure on the November ballot.
Now, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has given Pickett the additional job of leading a committee intended to prod the Legislature to take additional steps to ease congestion on overcrowded Texas roads.
“Transportation is a top priority for the Texas House,” Straus said in a statement. “This committee will take an extensive, objective look at the transportation solutions that best suit our people and our growing economy.”
Pickett, former chairman of the standing House Transportation Committee, was picked to chair the new committee, called the House Select Committee on Transportation Funding. The new committee will include Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, who is chairman of the Transportation Committee, and seven other lawmakers.
The select committee was created as part of the road-funding bill that Pickett sponsored in a special legislative session last summer. Its major provision is a constitutional amendment that, if it passes, would earmark half of the revenue from the state’s oil and gas severance tax for non-toll transportation projects. Pickett said the measure is now estimated to provide $1.4 billion a year for roads.