The Texas legislative report card for 2019 is in.
Was it a good session or not? Depends on your point of view. I think all our clients will agree that the removal of Surcharges and Red-light cameras is a good thing. Our organization has been fighting since first introduced in the legislature in 1995. We were successful in keeping them out for years. The house snuck in a substitute bill to allow red light cameras in 2005 and we have been fighting ever since. Finally, the Governor has signed into law a ban on Red light Cameras in Texas. All cities with contracts with these scameras will be allowed to workout the balance of the contracts, then they are history in Texas
The same goes for surcharges. It’s been 15 years since the first Surcharge scam was passed against the Texas public. The idea was to raise money for Trauma care in Texas. Citizens charged and convicted of DWI, DWLI, no insurance, No Driver’s license and multiple moving violations received hefty surcharges. Failure to pay surcharges resulted in the suspension of millions of Texans driver’s license. The collection rate on these surcharges is only 30%. Texas has passed laws allowing for indigent reductions. But the problem hasn’t changed. So, starting September 1st all past due surcharges owed by drivers in Texas are exonerated. The Legislature chose to raise traffic ticket costs $ 50.00 a case. And increased DWI penalties to $ 3000 to $ 6000 dollars each.
A few losers in this session are the Sandra Bland bill SB 815. The bill is named after a woman that was incarcerated on Traffic offenses. She later killed herself while been held in jail for the arrest on these charges. This bill would have eliminated the ability to arrest for non jailable traffic offenses. Currently in Texas, speeding and driving with an open container are the only offenses that require a citation without arrest. This bill would have required a citation on all Class C misdemeanors. Another loser was the Marijuana Bill. This bill would have reduced the penalty for Marijuana cases from jailable offenses to a class C penalty (fine only) for small amounts. This house bill would have passed but it was not allowed out on the Senate floor.
Finally, the Gun people scored a big victory. Gun activist have been pushing constitutional carry for years. This is the Second amendment right to carry a firearm without a license of any kind. The law now allows Texans to open carry a firearm without a license of any kind for at least one week after a natural disaster.
It’s depends on your point of view. If you smoke dope and tend to be arrested on traffic offenses, it was not a good year for you. If you have multiple surcharges on your license, then you are set free and can get legal again. Remember the governor has until June 18 to veto any bills passed. And if you love guns, you hit a home run. So, God Bless Texas