Texans are tired of the scam being perpetrated upon them under the guise of toll fines and fees, and they're demanding REFORM.
Last session, thanks to the must-pass TxDOT sunset bill, we were able to tack-on a magnificent toll collection reform bill (written by Ina Minjarez, D - San Antonio) that capped toll fines and fees at $48/year per driver. Sadly, it only applies to a limited number of TxDOT toll roads, not to the North Texas Tollway Authority, Harris County Tollway Authority or any of the 9 Regional Mobility Authorities.
So our work is NOT finished. Plus, there's a catch!
The conference committee, led by Sen. Robert Nichols, gutted our reform to de-criminalize failing to pay a toll bill. The committee voted to put criminal penalties back into the bill so you can still be treated as a criminal, have your vehicle registration blocked and possibly even face jail time, for the inability to pay a toll bill. The House passed the amendment to de-criminalize by a vote of 136-3. So we need to work on the Senate to understand they should be representing the will of the people and take away criminal penalties for inability to pay a bill. Blocking someone's vehicle registration arguably inhibits that person's ability to pay the bill by jeopardizing their ability to get to work.
Please come to the interim legislative hearing that's deliberating extending the toll collection reforms we passed last session to ALL toll entities. It's also our chance to ask them to remove the criminal penalties for inability to pay a toll bill.
Senate Transportation Committee Hearing
on Toll Collection Practices
Monday, August 27
Capitol Extension Rm E1.016
Texas State Capitol
Toll collection will be taken up the second half of the committee hearing. They are allowing public testimony on toll collection practices. We've heard from thousands of Texans about their unfair toll bills and the ruthless collection practices utilized by these government agencies. Now is your time to have your voices heard!
For those wishing to speak, sign up by filling out a Witness Registration Card (usually found on the table at the back of the committee room) and turn it in to the committee clerk sitting at the front dias.
Even if you do not wish to speak, we could use as many bodies of ordinary citizens in the room as possible since the paid lobbyists for the toll agencies will be there en force to keep the status quo!
Submit written comments, too!
Though the Reason Foundation pushes toll roads as a policy, this article is instructive as it speaks to the criminalization of ordinary behaviors, like driving, and how, increasingly citizens must get permission from the government to live everyday life. Toll billing practices are yet another way the big hand of government reaches into our lives and uses the threat of taking away your ability to drive to force you to pay up.