The gavel has sounded and the 84th session of the Texas Legislature has come to a close. All bills approved by both houses of the legislature have been presented to Governor Abbott and will either be signed into law or vetoed. I had high hopes for several driver and car insurance related bills that were introduced this session, however it appears none will be passed. Here’s a rundown on what was introduced but didn’t make it to Governor Abbott.
Texting Ban: Texas remains one of four states in the country that has not passed a statewide ban on texting while driving. The other three are Arizona, Missouri and Montana. Opposition to the bill was led by State Senator Konni Burton or Colleyville. The rationale behind Senator Burton’s opposition of the bill is she feels it’s unnecessary, difficult to enforce, and a possible violation of the Fourth Amendment.
I’m disappointed this bill has yet to pass; the statistics clearly show the dangers of texting and driving. There silver lining is 40 Texas cities have banned texting while driving and State Representative, Tom Craddick of Midland, the bill’s sponsor, will submit it again in the 2017 session.
Named Driver Policies: The bills proposed by State Representative Mark Keogh, of Montgomery County, and Representative Ed Thompson of Brazoria County to amend Texas Insurance Code and prohibit named driver policies from being issued were stalled. A bill was referred to the Senate Business & Commerce Committee, but it didn’t make it out of the committee.
The bill’s purpose was to prohibit excluded class of drivers, for example, a policy where only the parents are covered, but all kids or extended family in the home are excluded. I’ve seen too many instances where a client was struck by another vehicle who was clearly at fault, only to have the claim denied because the person driving the vehicle was not listed on the policy (for more on named driver policies see https://wiseinsurancegroup.com/the-worst-car-insurance-policy-in-texas/).
Red Light Cameras: State Representative Joe Pickett of El Paso, called a point of order, which pulled the plug on his own bill to eliminate red light cameras on a state wide basis. For whatever the reason, he changed his mind stating local municipalities should decide whether to continue existing programs or initiate new ones.
I’m pleased Representative Pickett killed his bill. I do believe these programs improve driver safety. What concerned me about his bill was that it also included a provision to eliminate school bus stop arm cameras. These are the cameras mounted on the side of school buses and take video of drivers who pass a stopped school bus where students are either getting on or off the bus. I believe these cameras protect our children and save lives (for more on stop arm cameras see https://wiseinsurancegroup.com/school-buses-cameras-fines/).
Based on these results, I think this was a disappointing legislative session for driver and insurance related issues; one out of three only plays well in baseball. But as every sports fan has ever said, there’s always the next season, or in this case, the next session. What insurance or driver related bills would you like to see our state legislators pass? Share them with me on our Google +, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!