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April 2017 Government Affairs Update

 

Texas State Inspection Program Under Fire

What’s Inside:

  • An overview of pending legislation
  • The latest action on SB 1588 & HB 3995
    [Texas Members Call Your House Representatives Today—Friday, April 28, 2017—and tell them VOTE NO on HB 3995. House Transportation Committee is considering bill now!]
  •  The prospect of pursuing pro-safety inspection legislation across the country

Texas State Senator Don Huffines is sponsoring SB 1588, a bill to eliminate the state vehicle inspection program. Although the state inspection program involves transportation safety as its core subject matter, proponents maneuvered it to the Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee where senators unfamiliar with transportation might be easily swayed by unsupportable claims that inspections offer no benefit.

According to the Texas State Inspection Association, SB 1588, as well as related bills HB 3683 and HB 3995, would put millions of Texans at risk because of unsafe passenger vehicles. In addition, the association has found the following:

  • Every day, inspection stations across the state fail vehicles because of bald tires, malfunctioning headlights, brake failure, loose lugnuts and other serious safety concerns.   The fact is over 1,027,000 vehicles fail safety inspections in Texas each year and these only include final failures, not vehicles that have failed, been repaired and eventually pass inspection.
  • Every day in Texas, inspection stations see vehicles with very serious safety concerns that fail inspection.  If annual safety inspections are not required, it will inevitably lead to more traffic fatalities in Texas.  At a time, when TxDOT’s primary mission is to reduce traffic fatalities in Texas, why would the state consider eliminating a program that costs the consumer 20 minutes of time and a minimal fee of $14.50 to ensure that our roads are safe for our wives, husbands, and children.
  • This legislation would require Texans to continue to pay the $5.50 inspection fee at the time of registration to the State of Texas but not receiving any value for this fee or assurances that vehicles traveling on our state highways are safe.  This is in effect, a new tax on Texans.
  • Brakes, tires and wheels, lights, emission controls, seat belts, wipers, exhaust systems, windshields and wipers, tint, insurance. These are all inspected in a fair and objective manner without a self-serving intention by a commissioned employee. The program that is in place saves lives and is a minimal cost and inconvenience to the public, when compared with the opportunity cost of a life lost on Texas highways due to unsafe vehicles.  

On April 20th, the Texas House Transportation Committee held a hearing that included consideration of the house companion bill to kill the state inspection program: HB 3995. At the end of persuasive testimony by Ed Martin (Take 5), Greg Cole (Express Auto), Mike Nowles (TSIA), and representatives of DEKRA and local law enforcement, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Ron Simmons, was unable to get the bill voted out of committee. Instead, they left the bill as “pending.” It could, however, be voted out today.

If you’re a Texas Member who wants to keep the state safety inspection program, call your representative now and tell them VOTE NO on HB 3995.

Key House Transportation Committee Legislators to focus on:

  • Rep. Ina Minjarez (San Antonio) (512) 463-0634
  • Rep. Mando Martinez (Weslaco, Donna) (512) 463-0530
  • Rep. Cindy Burkett (Garland, Mesquite) (512) 463-0464
  • Rep. Craig Goldman (Fort Worth, Benbrook) (512) 463-0608
  • Rep. Ed Thompson (Pearland, Alvin, Brazoria County) (512) 463-0707

On the senate side, despite significant pressure from operators statewide, the senate committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development unfortunately passed SB 1588, which means it’s now up to the full Texas senate to shut it down.

Texas AOCA members interested in retaining the safety program must stay tuned for updates and be ready to make calls to their legislative representatives as needed. Big thanks to everyone who has already taken action to oppose the bill thus far.

As we move forward defending the safety inspection program in Texas, this is also an opportunity to revisit the subject of state safety inspection programs nationwide. It turns out that new studies from prestigious sources like Carnegie Mellon University, as well as data from international experts like DEKRA, show that safety inspections do make a significant difference in keeping roadways safe for everyone. Although some drivers may take advantage of voluntary safety inspection services offered privately, such arrangements make fixing major malfunctions like insufficient tire treads voluntary, too. And that’s where the voluntary approach can go off the rails or rather skidding into oncoming traffic.

All AOCA members are encouraged to dialogue with the Government Affairs Committee about the prospect of encouraging the reinstatement of other state safety inspection programs. It could be that the automotive service industry will ultimately make some great lemonade out of these Texas lemons. Let us know what you think.

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