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Texas Senators Push Redistricting, Transportation Bills Forward

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

After substantial debate, the full Senate passed three redistricting bills that would adopt voting maps drawn by a federal court in San Antonio ahead of the 2012 elections.  They set up district boundaries for the Texas House and Senate and U.S. House.

The Texas House is expected to take the maps up next week.

Also today, Senate lawmakers moved forward with a plan to come up with more dollars for roads and highways.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee approved a revised version of SJR 2, a plan to send a portion of oil and gas severance taxes to the state’s highway fund.

Under the new version, this tax money going to the Rainy Day Fund would not finance transportation projects until this fund reaches at least $6 billion.

“This funding stream by itself does not get transportation where it needs to be," said the bill's author, State Sen. Robert Nichols. "I think I made that very clear in committee. It is not a perfect solution, by any means.” 

Nichols says it’s because of the unpredictability of oil and gas prices, but he says he expects volatility to decrease in the long term to provide a dependable source of revenue for the future.

The full Texas Senate is expected to take up the measure early next week.