Sunday, October 01, 2017

Support from leadership needed to get rid of Driver Responsibility Surcharge

The Republican House Speaker from Michigan is pushing to get rid of that state's version of the Orwellian-named Driver Responsibility Surcharge. Here's a quote from one of the bill's supporters which could easily have come from critics of the program in Texas:
As a prosecutor in Genesee County, I saw every day the awful impact these unfair fees had on Michigan families. ... Far too many working people who received a ticket and paid their fine were hit with new, impossible surcharges, often costing them their licenses, and then their jobs, and then their ability to ever pay off the mountain of debt. These are good people who just want to get to work and drive to school to pick up their children. They want to do the right thing, but the government has them trapped in a cycle of failure from which they can never escape. That is not right, and it is well past time we repealed this unjust mistake.
I've always believed that if any of Texas' Big 3 legislative leadership took this on - the Speaker, the Lt. Governor, or the Governor - abolition could happen pretty quickly. Without such leadership, though, abolition keeps getting hung up in "the pay for," as the missus refers to it, and repeal bills keep dying session after session.

Grits doesn't know what it would take to get one or more of those three interested in repealing these surcharges. The idea has gained little momentum at the Lege despite quite a bit of bipartisan support for jettisoning the program. That's mainly because the hospitals don't want to give up a lucrative revenue stream, even if the program suffers from profound and well-known dysfunction.

Perhaps Michigan's example will spur interest among Texas' rulers where the pleas of their constituents did not.

8 comments:

Gadfly said...

No way Danny Goeb takes the lead on this. That leaves either Gov. Strangeabbott or Straus. Of those two, I actually think the Gov might be slightly more likely.

Anonymous said...

How is that these drivers can afford to take on the "responsibility" to own and operate a vehicle (which, even on the low end, is probably 25 cents a mile, i.e. an absolute bare minimum of $100/mo, usually much more), but they can't afford the surcharge? Even when it has been slashed and spread out over time for low income people? Even though they spend discretionary funds every day for smartphones, alcohol, cigarettes and who knows what else? How many such drivers have Netflix accounts? How many have smoked weed in the past month? How 'bout some discretionary expense discipline? I'm not buying their predicament, nor, apparently, are the state leaders.

Anonymous said...

How many of these people have been driving without auto insurance? Let's start with the basics and work our way up to change that is justified.

Steven Seys said...

How many of these anonymous commentators have ever had to decide between buying diapers and milk for the baby on the one hand and paying a government surcharge on the other. It's obvious to me that they will find any excuse, like lining up anecdotes of fiscal irresponsibility, to avoid the real question of suffering among the majority of the people victimized by Texas's debtors' prison mentality.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To the holier than thou commenters above, about 1.3 million Texans have lost their licenses because of these surcharges and cannot afford to get them back. That's now a permanent situation unless something changes. And when people lose their licenses, they don't stop driving. Everybody still has to get to work, shop for groceries, take their kids to school, etc..

I'm curious if any of the first three commenters are also critics of Obamacare, as I suspect? I fail to understand how people who criticize the government for mandating insurance purchases under Obamacare can support mandating insurance purchases for drivers, except without the low-income subsidies available under the ACA. This is a problem created by government policy - the same problem, in fact, created by Obamacare's purchase-mandate, and I've always considered it inconsistent when people criticize the ACA but support the same policy at the state level for auto insurance.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that it is a right to travel freely as an American without persecution?

He's Innocent said...

Your Missus hits it square on the nail head on the reason so many good bills die at the Lege. It's the "pay for" that kills these things. It's the same with corporations. Oh my! Increase wages to $15/hr? But that might mean a decrease in our profits! But hot damn, if your corporation cannot get by on less profit that gets stuffed inside the already overflowing pockets of your officers, then their hair is all afire.
Same with the Lege. They become "addicted" to a revenue stream and by god it'll be over their dead bodies before they give it up - good laws be damned. If only we could have some dead bodies pulled from the capital, it would be a good reset opportunity! (Dead bodies = defeated incumbents who are indifferent to their constituency's needs)

Frances Senders said...

I never did anything wrong but had liscense suspended anyway BECAUSE OF
wrong surcharge.No one to hear me. Years . We must get together and sue.