PRESS RELEASE February 25, 2016

OPPOSITION TO HIGH-SPEED RAIL CONTINUES TO GROW OUTSIDE PROPOSED PATH

Robertson County Opposed to Dallas Houston HSR

Jewett, Texas – The Robertson County Commissioners Court has recently passed a resolution opposing the Dallas Houston High-Speed Rail proposed by Texas Central Partners, sending a strong message of growing opposition from those outside the currently proposed routes. At the February 11 Commissioners Court, County Judge Charles L. Ellison and Commissioners Keith Petitt, Donald Threadgill, Keith Nickelson and Robert Bielamowicz voted unanimously to oppose the project based on the negative impact it would have on the county, primarily through the unknown financial viability of the project that could lead to taxpayer subsidies and the new precedent setting use of eminent domain for a private project that does not meet the historically justified threshold of public benefit.

Judge Ben Leman, Grimes County Judge and TAHSR Chairman, made a presentation to the Robertson County Commissioners Court to share information about the project and potential impacts to their county. Through their ongoing investigation to gain further information about the HSR project, the Robertson County Commissioners Court found, and even mentioned in their resolution, that Texas Central had not provided sufficient information about the project to alleviate or limit their concerns.

Following the passage of the resolution, Judge Leman said, “This resolution is evidence that counties not in the current proposed routes of the Dallas Houston HSR are clearly understanding the potential for negative impact to their county and citizens. This project isn’t good for urban or rural property owners, urban or rural taxpayers or the State of Texas. The leadership of Robertson County should be commended for taking a proactive stance in opposing this project on behalf of their citizens.”

Robertson County joins others outside the currently proposed paths of the Dallas Houston HSR, including Montgomery County, Walker County, and the Texas A&M student body.

Please visit www.TexansAgainstHSR.com for more information about Texans Against High-Speed Rail, Inc. and TAHSR Land Defense Fund.

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PRESS RELEASE February 11, 2016

TEXANS AGAINST HSR COORDINATES WITH
TEXAS A&M STUDENT SENATE TO OPPOSE DALLAS HOUSTON HSR

Jewett, Texas – In a nearly unanimous roll call, the Texas A&M University Student Senate, speaking on behalf of the student body, sent a clear message Wednesday night condemning the use of eminent domain by a private company, specifically the proposed Dallas Houston High-Speed Rail project. Texas A&M Senate Bill 68-36, entitled the Eminent Domain Opposition Act, was authored by Wayne Beckermann, Vice President of Municipal Affairs and public administration master’s student in the Bush School of Government and Public Service, and sponsored by Rules and Regulations Committee Chair Carlos Sonka, a senior petroleum engineer major.

Although Texas Central Partners has promoted Texas A&M University and Sam Houston State University student support for their project, Texas A&M student senators were only contacted late last year to garner official support. Chair Sonka reached out to Texans Against High-Speed Rail recently to get information to support their proposed act, and TAHSR responded with information, as well as coordinating speakers for their meeting, including State Senator Charles Schwertner, State Representatives Trent Ashby and John Wray, County Judges Ben Leman (Grimes) and Trey Duhon (Waller) and TAHSR President Kyle Workman, all of whom represent areas that would be negatively impacted by the proposed HSR.

As part of the justification for their project, Texas Central has identified Texas A&M University students as a key customer base and long touted them as supporters. However, university student senators recognized the potential for private property rights infringement and took swift action, sending a clear message to the company and investors. Chair Sonka said following the successful passage of his bill, “I am proud our body was able to see through the well-funded special interests and professional lobbyists that tried to influence us, and clarify – overwhelmingly – that Texas A&M students are against the use of eminent domain and will not support the rail’s taking of private property from unwilling sellers.” The student senate ultimately voted 60 – 2 for the act showing that every facet of Texas A&M, through the various caucuses, stands united in opposition to the general use of eminent domain by private companies and, specifically, the expected use of eminent domain by the Dallas Houston HSR.

Vice President Beckermann supported the opposition bill by responding to Texas Central’s vague and inconsistent information about their project. “We’re being asked to support ‘It depends.’ And that’s just not going to work. I’m not okay with this body, this institution, supporting something that still ‘depends.’ We need private companies to approach us before using us, we need to develop hard stances on things like this, and that’s exactly what this bill is about.”

In last night’s senate meeting, Rep. John Wray said, “What I want to ask you to do is to vote in favor of this bill, because if you do that you’re voting in favor of property rights. If you do that you’re voting in favor of fair market value. If you do that you’re voting in favor of keeping the phrase ‘willing’ in front of the phrase ‘seller.’ And you’re voting to uphold the free market.”

The landslide 60 votes to support the bill indicate when given available data and additional background from Texas Central as well as those officials opposed to the project, it is hard to support this private company use of eminent domain. “I argue that there certainly is not a public benefit that is consistent with the threshold of public benefit that has been long established in the State of Texas,” Judge Leman said in the meeting held on the Texas A&M campus in College Station. “I consider it to be a private project for a private purpose.”

Texans Against High-Speed Rail applauds the members of the Texas A&M Student Senate taking a strong stance on private property rights in Texas and for being the voice of all Texas A&M students. Despite Texas Central claims, Texas A&M students are now added to the long list of those who do not support this HSR project.

Kyle Workman said, “Along with our state and local elected officials, TAHSR is proud to stand with the Texas A&M University Student Senate to oppose eminent domain by private companies. This is yet another clear message that Texans value their private property rights, and, as taxpayers, we remain concerned about inevitable taxpayer subsidies when this Japanese funded project fails to meet its financial obligations.”

Please visit www.TexansAgainstHSR.com for more information about Texans Against High-Speed Rail, Inc. and TAHSR Land Defense Fund.

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PRESS RELEASE February 2, 2016

TEXANS AGAINST HSR ANNOUNCES LAND DEFENSE FUND AND LITIGATION PARTNERSHIP WITH THE BECKHAM GROUP

Jewett, Texas – As opposition to the Dallas Houston HSR continues to grow, the leadership of Texans Against High-Speed Rail has created a special litigation partnership with Dallas law firm, The Beckham Group, as well as formed a new Texas nonprofit corporation named TAHSR Land Defense Fund. Blake Beckham, co-founder of The Beckham Group, will champion the private property right of Texans by focusing his litigation efforts on stopping the project to protect landowners whose property would be devastated by this unwarranted project.

Because eminent domain is typically a last resort, and this project is far from the point of being approved to acquire property through eminent domain, the TAHSR Land Defense Fund was created to offer landowners a collective effort to protect their lands and ecologically sensitive natural resources and wildlife from being harmed long before eminent domain is necessary. This should ease the burden from landowners to retain individual counsel at this point. TAHSR Land Defense Fund is a Texas nonprofit corporation, which is applying for tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code to be effective for 2016; if the IRS grants the exemption, donations to the fund may be tax deductible.

Mr. Beckham said of his collaboration with TAHSR, “When faced with the prospect of a private company, Texas Central Partners, backed largely by Japanese interests, attempting to misuse the power of eminent domain to scar the beautiful countryside of Texas, I knew this cause needed my legal experience. Texas landowners and taxpayers should not have to bear the devastation this unneeded project will bring to our state.”

Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, shared at a recent private meeting of Land Defense Fund members, “Texans Against High-Speed Rail represents a broad coalition of Texans who oppose the proposed HSR, and with the recent formation of the Land Defense Fund, landowners now have a way to support a legal fight that no one landowner should shoulder alone. Mr. Beckham, who is committed to stopping the project entirely…not simply moving it off his own property, will work with us to protect some of Texas’ most precious land.”

Please visit www.TexansAgainstHSR.com for more information about Texans Against High-Speed Rail, Inc. and TAHSR Land Defense Fund.

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