Petitioning Lieutennant Governor Dan Patrick and 10 others

END TOLL ROAD ABUSIVE PRACTICES

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This petition is the result of the backlash building for 20 years against Toll Roads in Texas. It's happened to you...HUGE FINES, FEES, PENALTIES, STACKS OF NOTICE LETTERS IN YOUR MAILBOX, LAWSUITS.

You, you're a hard working person, not some Billy-The-Kid-like "outlaw" running the tolls on purpose yet you still end up taken to the bank! The entire situation leaves you feeling helpless and mad as hell! You are horrified to learn that a few dollars in Toll Road use fees have ballooned into hundreds or even THOUSANDS of dollars in fines and the toll authority won't work with you. You have likely even been sued, lost your ability to register your car or even been arrested.

You probably never even saw the bill. You had moved or live out of state or fell victim to problems between the different tolling agencies across the state that fail to work together properly.

Texas lawmakers created this mess - a convoluted system of agencies like a 5 headed snake. With more than 5 different agencies each billing you for use of different roads. Toll roads in Texas are operated virtually independently of government in Austin by private-public partnerships created through political wrangling by state legislators pushing private corporate interests - worst of all, they treat you like a criminal!

True harm is coming to Texas citizens in the form of egregious fines , harassment, loss of driving privileges, an inability to register vehicles and an unwillingness to listen to every individual case regarding a claimed toll violation. This is a violation of your right to due process

The ultimate tool to let the state know that we, the citizens of Texas no longer support Toll Roads is to petition for a referendum to hear our grievances. State lawmakers MUST agree to listen to our grievances and correct the problems through substantial legislative change to the operation and revenue collection of all Toll Roads in Texas. 

If the State will not listen and act, We The People are prepared to file what may become the largest Class Action Lawsuit in Texas History and seek legal remuneration including injunctive, compensatory, special and incidental damages from the state.

WE THE PEOPLE DEMAND:

1.  There should be one tolling agency statewide.

2.  All legal Loopholes must be closed to prevent abuse by the "private" for-profit law firms suing Texans in Unconstitutional Administrative Courts and unethically taking advantage of a system with little to no oversight. There exists a significant conflict of interest between The State, the Private Interests and your right to drive as a Taxpayer. A set of laws that CLEARLY define, limit and control Toll Roads must be established.

3.  The power to fine, sue and charge excessive fees must be severely limited. Failure to address this will result in litigation or replacement of YOU the Politician with someone sympathetic to the Will of The People.

4.  The creation of protections (A Bill of Rights) for Texans driving on ANY Toll roads allowed to continue to operate..

5.  A Clear and concise operating charter for Toll Roads with a moral duty clause that makes it illegal to work and establish any Toll Project or operating guidelines that would bring economic harm against a Texas Citizen created by the system itself. Zero tolerance for Exploitation.

6.  Complete Transparency by all agencies, public and private involved in the toll roads OR - You may not "Play".

7.  The abolition of any and all future toll road projects.

8.  The 25% Gas Tax diversion to other programs must stop.

9.  The classification of a "toll" as a "Tax" by admission of the State in writing.  

10.  The immediate development of a Gas Tax plan to pay for roads and "Sunset" (eliminate" toll roads within 5 years.

11. Administrative courts where the plaintiff (Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, is a private for-profit law firm is Unconstitutional under the 7th Amendment. This is very disturbing and must be abolished effective immediately OR a Federal Lawsuit will surface seeking repayment of ALL property seized in said courts. This is aviolation of Texans rights under the terms of the 7th Amendment to the US Constitution.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

http://money.cnn.com/interactive/pf/debt-collector/texas-politics/ . These are the people who your state sends you to to sue you! They are in business to make a profit. Administrative judges they use are often paid 2 to 3 times the normal pay for a judge at this level and the preponderance of the evidence agrees that citizens are found guilty in more than 95% of all cases. Most cases are won on technicality and the penalty does not match the crime making toll road fines a clear violation of the; 

The 8th amendment of the constitution of the United States and the section 13 of the Texas State Constitution which bar the collection of excessive fines. The state of Texas has created legislation that allows it to outsource toll violations and assess unbelievably egregious fines against its' own citizens in a manner that is harmful to citizens. That harm is not chartered within the state constitution. All laws are to be chartered for the benefit of the people not against them. This situation was created when;

Put simply, the system harms citizens financially and therefore violates the Texas Constitution and the United States Constitution. The State lawmakers, our employees, have created a system that prosecutes citizens for even accidental infractions on our toll roads that are prosecuted by private law firms, not the State of Texas additionally;
The toll violation system clearly violates the Due Process Guarantee contained within the Texas Constitution, The state may have failed to meet its' evidentiary burden  by any citizen from a civil penalty and administrative reprocessing fees applied against a vehicle owner under the under the process authorized by law.

More specifically this means that private citizens are being sued by someone other than the State of Texas for toll road violations. Many complain of never receiving notice which violates their right to due process. Once the charges are sent to the third party collection firm, they assess egregious fines and fees that harms citizens egregiously because the fines are more than 50 times the actual toll charges. This is far beyond anything allowed by consumer credit lawsuit.

By its very nature, a private law firm has a conflict of interest in filing lawsuits on behalf of the State against private citizens in administrative courts. Furthermore, the private lawfirm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP as well as other firms use "administrative Courts" to sue private Citizens which are essentially courts for hire by the lawfirm. And Linebarger in particular is a nasty one!

http://money.cnn.com/interactive/pf/debt-collector/texas-politics/ .
All Tolling authorities are required to operate under TXDOT but TXDOT does not have total control over the independent agencies that toll all of us and this lack of defined, well written legal rules allows too much leeway within each toll road agency to operate independently.

Reciprocal agreements between agencies are completely inadequate to protect citizens, causing thousands of tax paying citizens to be sued, spend too much personal time dealing with toll issues and no clear means of resolving issues in a timely or easy manner. When someone using a different tolling agency has a tag malfunction, fines are assessed immediately and the burden of proof of innocence is pushed back onto the taxpayer citizen who must fight to have the fees removed, taking substantial time or concede and pay fines that are automatically assessed.

This is insanity in the 21st century. Each agency has no way to look up the license plates of other agencies. They also do not attempt to re-bill 3 times as they do with their own customers. They will instead often waive some fees if you agree to get an account with that agency essentially bribing you to leave your old agency to reduce the fees easily. This is unacceptable. It may even violate the FTC Deceptive Trade and Practiced Act. It can cause harm to any company or agency or individual who travels as you cannot have two tags on your windshield or they will potentially both read. What is a citizen to do? They are to demand the State fix this issue. The issue is that the private parties operating the toll roads each want their money!
Toll road revenue is being used to build new toll roads to collect even more fees from citizens of the State of Texas. Tolling should not be allowed to perpetuate itself by making loans to other tolling agencies to build more Toll Roads. As an example, HCTRA loaned $20 million dollars to another http://www.chron.com/news/transportation/article/Harris-County-OKs-20M-loan-for-MoCo-toll-road-5997311.php that it earned from fees on the Beltway 8 Toll Road in Houston! If the Beltway 8 project is paid for, per the advertisement on the bond sold to the residents of Harris County, the Beltway 8 Toll Road was to become Free once paid for!. Yes, it was supposed to be free once paid for. Harris County has NOT kept its word with the citizens of the City of Houston. This is treasonous and malicious intent to defraud. Beltway 8 is a cash cow for the City who continues to increase taxes. Harris County is making money hand over fist off of tolls yet they continue to raise property taxes...why? Because it is never enough and nobody is stopping them!


Gas Taxes could lower toll road fees, pay off other debts or improve schools but instead it is being funneled to Toll us even more. Toll Roads are a form of Double Taxation. The State of Texas continues to abuse Gas Tax revenue by channeling it to non-road projects. This is a serious breech of the definition of the what the Gas Tax is for. We must stop the legislation in the State of Texas from earmarking Gas Tax money for special projects that have nothing to do with roads! Using a Gas Tax uniformly taxes all citizens for roads instead of an undue burden for those that live in a city. Texas gas tax has not changed in decades and remained steady at 20 cents per gallon - yet we have the 2nd largest state in the union and an enormous road system to maintain. Most other states are at 27 to 30 cents per gallon. So we are diverting Gas Taxes away from Roads.

Representative Doug Miller introduced SB 1110 (in 2013), that heists property taxes (through appraisal increases) for transportation projects and expands the use of Transportation Reinvestment Zones (TRZ) from strictly FREEways to toll roads, rail, transit, and dedicated bike lanes. WE"RE DIVERTING GAS TAX AWAY FROM TOLL ROADS AND THIS GUY WANTS TO TAKE YOUR PROPERTY TAXES TO MAKE UP FOR THE TAX SHORTAGE ON ROADS - THAT ARE BEING TAKEN FROM GAS TAXES. ROBBING PETER TO PAY PAUL. 

Harris County has commandeered our Freeway lanes for additional revenue which should be a crime. Toll Road fees are egregious. They are charging as much as $400 per month for a driver to travel to and from work downtown and back to Katy 5 days a week. That is more than the cost of a new Honda Accord per month! It is egregious.

Toll road fines are an abomination. Current Legislation does not go far enough TXDOT, NTTRA, HCTRA, TXTAG the State of Texas ETC MUST give everyone a chance to voice their complaints and seek relief in the form of compensatory, injunction and punitive damages against all of the agencies, their law firms and private tolling companies. It is vital that you speak up and express your concerns to drive corrective action against one of the most corrupt and abusive institutions within the state by signing this petition.

Another complaint observed is the "License Plate" issue where citizens buy new cars and have a hard time getting the actual metal plates after purchase. For example: Buying cars out of state. If your plate is not associated with your account within 30 days, you will be fined and sued under the current law. Fines are higher than allowed under Federal Credit laws that consumers are protected by. These federal laws include the Fair Debt Collections Act, Deceptive Trade and Practices Act and the FCRA or Fair Credit Reporting Act, as well as others.

Texas also has strict debt collection practice laws but none of them adequately provide extension for protections for toll road operations. Unless we collectively stand firm and sue, they will continue to harm citizens and cause thousands of hours of lost productivity to corporations across the state dealing with the extreme incompetence, negligent and even hostile activities conducted against private citizens. Additionally most Texans do not recognize that Toll Roads are become more mainstream than tax-money paid construction projects. There is a serious issue with the growth of Toll Road construction even with the increased revenue from taxpayers and toll revenues. Toll Roads are getting first priority for construction in potential or needed growth areas instead of Tax funded projects because the state is not spending tax money on roads as they should!

This means that the State is earning greater revenue by tolling your ability to drive instead of using the money they collect in your taxes to pay for construction and maintenance of roads.

All together, these and other issues MUST be dealt with swiftly by WE THE PEOPLE before they get out of hand. What kind of world allows a free highway to install toll booths only for the overpasses and the rest stays free? Why is it that inter-agency cooperation does not protect your ability to drive without fear of penalty on other agency roads? Please take a moment to tell us what you have experienced AND to let us know how we can stop this together. Together we can greatly change the oversight and toll road authority ability to tax, charge and build toll roads and help keep driving free or reduce the cost of driving by strong legislation to keep the tolling authorities and legislators in check.

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Lieutennant Governor
    Dan Patrick
  • Governor of Texas
    Greg Abbott
  • State Senator
    Lois Kolkhorst
  • Texas House of Representatives District 79
    Joe Pickett
  • Executive Director TXDOT
    James Morris
  • Executive Director TXDOT
    James Bass
  • Tryon D. Lewis
  • Commissioner Texas Transportatiin Commission
    Jeff Austin III
  • Commissioner Texas Tramsportatiin Commission
    J. Bruce Bugg, Jr.
  • Commissioner Texas Transportation Commissioner
    Laura Ryan
  • Commissioner Texas Transportation Commission
    Victor Vandergriff


Texas Toll Road Class Action Lawsuit started this petition with a single signature, and now has 42,354 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.




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Rodger Watkins needs your help with “Texans for Toll Free Highways Heavily Reform Toll Roads by legislation or litigation! Sign the Petition.”. Join Rodger and 42,353 supporters today.