I quite enjoyed writing Grits' comments, even sneaking in a quote from Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley declaring, “Regardless how we measure the program, it is a disaster. It is taxation masquerading as a public safety initiative.” On that, he and I couldn't agree more.
The main thrust of the comments, though, was to make an argument that more aggressively affording amnesty would serve both the state's revenue generation and public policy goals, since 1.2 million defaulted surcharge debtors aren't paying anything anyway, and since the state has an interest in getting those drivers relicensed and reinsured.
A public hearing will be held on April 26 at the capitol to discuss the proposal, but a time and room number have yet to be announced.
State Rep. Ruth Jones McLendon submitted comments as well; she offered these additional suggestions, which a staffer forwarded to me via email:
First, establish the DRP indigency level at the same level adopted by the Health and Human Service Commission for Medicaid eligibility, rather than establish a different 125% standard which would require independent verification. In so doing, the Department would eliminate most (if not all) of the need and the expense of contracting independently with a third party to verify the 125% eligibility level. While there might be a need for a DRP applicant to agree to release the records held by HHSC which establish their eligibility for participation in the Medicaid program, those existing governmental records should readily be verifiable without the need for a new and independent review. For those DRP applicants who are not participating in a program where their eligibility already has been established under HHSC program guidelines, the Department could conceivably handle this verification process within the agency by using existing personnel and resources, rather than expending resources on an outside contractor.
Second, the Department should establish a means by which a person who is in a position to pay the reduced fee through use of a credit card could do so. I agree that applicants should be provided up to 90 days to pay the reduced fee, in full, as proposed. However, it would be beneficial to the applicant and also to the Department to expedite payment of the reduced fee, by allowing an applicant who is able to do so to use a valid credit card to pay the relevant fee.