Sometimes, you can pick up a nail in your tire as you drive along the highway. You never feel it, you never see it.
But right then and there, the air starts to leak out of your best-laid plans, and 20 miles down the road you’ve got a flat.
That may have just happened to Gov. Sonny Perdue’s effort to reorganize the state’s transportation agencies.
The House on Tuesday passed a pair of measures that endorsed a statewide sales tax for transportation. Passage of the legislation was anti-climactic — roughly 150 of the 180 members of the chamber voted in approval.
But the real news was in a two-line amendment inserted in one of the measures, H.B. 277, with no objection — and thus, no fingerprints. It reads:
‘Authority’ means the entity that is the designated recipient of federal funds to be used for highway construction and other transportation purposes in this state.
No lawyer is involved in the writing of this blog, but we’ve received assurances that the above language means that all money collected under this proposal, should voters approve it, would be channeled through the state Department of Transportation, which the governor is determined to bring to heel.
The principle authors of the amendment were House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) and state Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), who chairs the Democratic caucus.
But House Transportation Chairman Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain) also put his name to the language. And that implies that the speaker was not opposed to it.
One suspects that many House Republicans have examined the situation, and see this:
The governor is now persona non grata with the constitutionally required board that governs the DOT — as witnessed by last week’s firing of Commissioner Gena Evans. The Senate has joined Perdue.
If the House emerges as the protector of the DOT board, the chamber would have enormous sway over that agency — and the billions of dollars it controls — for years to come.
Should this happen, of course, chances of an agreement between the Senate and House over a sales tax for transportation would be out the window.