Sen. Robert Nichols, Chairman

Senate Committee on Transportation

Nichols New Chair of Senate Transportation

 

October 10, 2012

 

Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) is the new Chair of the Texas Senate Committee on Transportation, succeeding Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) who was recently appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance. 

 

Senator Nichols has a distinguished background in Texas transportation, having served as a Commissioner of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) from 1997 to 2005 where he established a reputation for pushing increased efficiency while maintaining quality.

 

“The issues facing this committee are critical to keeping the Texas economy moving. A top priority of mine is to ensure we have adequate resources to build a first class highway system and maintain the existing infrastructure to the level Texans expect and deserve,” said Nichols.

 

Nichols has served on the Senate Transportation Committee since 2007 and played a major role in major revisions to transportation policy during those years, particularly during the TxDOT Sunset process the past two sessions.

 

SEEKING INNNOVATIVE IDEAS

“I hope to draw on my experience and that of my colleagues to come up with innovative ideas to solve the state’s transportation problems,” stated Nichols. “Transportation is a critical issue facing this state, and I look forward to working on solutions to get people and goods moving.”

 

Nichols has developed a detailed proposal calling for a constitutional amendment to dedicate the sales tax on new and used vehicle purchases to expanding and maintaining the state highway system and to paying off transportation-related debt. The money currently goes into the state’s catch-all general revenue fund.


He has indicated that the change could be phased in slowly over 10 years to avoid serious impacts on the overall state budget. Though the amount of revenue raised for roads would be small at first, knowing that the revenue stream would grow would allow TxDOT to move quickly on perhaps $10 billion worth of new projects through leveraged borrowing.


Nichols predicts that the public would back such a measure because it makes intuitive sense.

 

Nichols was first elected to the Texas Senate in 2006. In addition to Transportation, Nichols sits on the Senate Natural Resources, Health and Human Services, and Nominations Committees. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations and the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission.

 

His Senate District 3 includes 19 East Texas counties including the cities of Conroe, Livingston, Silsbee, Jasper, Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Jacksonville and Palestine.