In 2007, the Legislature gave the Department of Public Safety’s governing body, the Public Safety Commission, a mandate and broad authority to fix the program. Last year lawmakers required the agency to establish an indigency program. The safety commission recently published rules in the Texas Register to create just that and will hold a public hearing regarding them at the Capitol on Monday.
But the proposed changes don’t go nearly far enough, and the safety commission has authority to more substantially revamp the program to mitigate its most significant problems. It should do so.
The most gaping omission: The Department of Public Safety failed to propose an “amnesty” program to relieve the backlog of 1.2 million drivers who’ve already defaulted on the surcharge. This not only is bad public policy, encouraging 1.2 million drivers to remain unlicensed and uninsured, it actually leaves money on the table for the state. Potentially a lot of it.
If just one-third of them participated in a one-time amnesty program that let them get their license reinstated for, say, $250 (many owe thousands in back surcharges), it could generate up to $100 million in the near term.
That sure would be nice to have at a time like this, wouldn’t it? Go read the whole thing.