We REALLY need your help to torpedo a SAWS Vista Ridge/San Antone Hose -- Amendment #6 to Senate Bill 533 -- at the last minute, just like we did in 2015. Remember, we warned you about last minute shenanigans!
Today, SAWS (San Antonio Water System) was in a court of law in San Antonio AND at the Legislature with another trumped up “emergency” to build the SAWS hooks up to the Vista Ridge Project (their $3.4 billion, 142-mile mass conveyance water pipeline) at the expense of their ratepayers and despite opposition by landowners over the “donor” aquifer. This affects all central Texas, especially those in the cross-hairs in Hays County where the water will be used to build out at your expense.
Explanation: SAWS wants to amend the Government Code to benefit SAWS and Vista Ridge. That’s what Floor Amendment #6 does --- it makes it easy for SAWS to arbitrarily cut off a bid process for the Vista Ridge infrastructure SAWS plans to build at the expense of its ratepayers.
That's right - THINK BID RIGGING that,
with Amendment #6, will help establish for SAWS
and others across the state who want to rig the process.
What to say: I have no problem with Senate Bill 533, except House Floor Amendment #6, which really must be stripped out of the bill. San Antonio Water System is already in court seeking the same result. We don't need to invite this abuse of the bidding process -- let the court decide and please strip Amendment #6 from SB 533 by the Conference Committee.
Here are the Committee members. Below this is more details: Calls are very important now, as emails will likely get missed this late in the session.
House Members of the Conference Committee:
Chair: Rep. Charlie Geren, R-River Oaks: (512) 463-0610
Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Keller: (512) 463-0690
Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo: (512) 463-0470
Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-Penitas: (512) 463-0645
Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin: (512) 463-0631
Senate Members of the Conference Committee:
Chair: Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound: (512) 463-0112
Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston: (512) 463-0117
Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen: (512) 463-0120
Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville: (512) 463-0103
Sen. Charles Schwertner. R-Bryan: (512) 463-0105
Additional Information: The Government Code says the bid period for so-called “design-build” projects should be 180 days. Instead SAWS wants it to be only as long as SAWS wants to keep it open --- do they have a crony contractor waiting in the wings to swoop in with the preferred bid? Does a bear you know what in the woods?
There is no emergency for Vista Ridge that justifies this change! If anything, SAWS continues to bend over backwards to fend off defaults by their private partner in Vista Ridge. To boot, the amendment would apply to all governmental entities with populations or service areas of more than 100,000 people. This invites unnecessary, widespread abuse of bidding for usually high-dollar projects!
What should SAWS be required to do instead, if indeed it has an “emergency” in need of a fix?
They already have a lawsuit pending in San Antonio –a one-sided, petitioner-friendly (SAWS) “Expedited Declaratory Judgment Act” action to have a court essentially say they don’t need to amend the statute --- that it is perfectly “reasonable” for the Judge to “interpret” the Government Code the way SAWS urges, just for SAWS alone, and enter a Declaratory Judgment and Permanent Injunction against any third-party challenges to a shorter bid process --- or any challenge to the issuance of debt obligations that SAWS wants its ratepayers to repay with higher water rates. That ruling would bar any disgruntled bidder or any ratepayer from getting in SAWS’ way on those issues, now and forever.
They conveniently didn’t tell the Court in their Petition for this ruling that they were already in the Legislature, second-guessing their own “interpretation” of existing law.
But now let’s hold them to going forward with the Judge --- they apparently don’t really need to change the law, now do they!? And the rest of us don't need this change either --- the Government Code ain't broke, don't fix it!
Get to it, Texans! Torpedo SAWS handouts!
PS Please, please share this widely!