The gavels come down to mark the start of the 85th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, on January 10. The Texas Constitution allows legislators already sworn in to file legislation 60 days before the start of the session, and that legislation has been accumulating in anticipation of opening day. As of January 4, more than 100 bills affecting transportation have been filed (our list, updated nightly, is at https://policy.tti.tamu.edu/85r/).
The Finance group has the most bills of any single category. The majority of those eight bills address tolls and tolling agencies — everything from outright prohibition to elimination of system finance to authorization of payment plans. One phases in a motor vehicle sales tax, and one creates an economic impact zone pilot project. The rest relate to possible tax exemptions or credits. Our analysis of transportation legislation across the country is online at https://policy.tti.tamu.edu/finance/transportation-funding-related-state-legislative-bills-2008-2015/.
Photographic traffic enforcement, commonly known as red light cameras, is addressed in the next largest bill category. There are ten bills in the traffic signal/photographic traffic enforcement category, and eight of those are red light camera related. Of the other two, one is the “Dead Red” bill that would allow a vehicle to proceed through an intersection if the sensors triggering the light change don’t detect the vehicle; the other bill would prohibit a driver from filming or photographing a traffic accident.
Nine bills filed so far address various aspects of driver licensing and driver education, the same number as there are related to traffic safety. The majority of traffic safety bills, seven, address distracted driving (texting or talking on a cell phone while driving). Seven other bills address occupant protection (people in general, schoolchildren, child safety seat usage and animals).
Three bills have been filed addressing transportation network companies (TNCs), each in a different way. Our analysis of TNC legislation in other states is online at https://policy.tti.tamu.edu/technology/tnc-legislation/.
Three bills affect the application of technology to mobility, covering telecommuting, digital identification and automated license plate readers. So far, no legislation has been filed regarding autonomous vehicles, but we feel it’s coming. You can catch up on the subject with our research at https://policy.tti.tamu.edu/technology/revolutionizing-our-roadways/.
As additional bills are filed, we’ll be posting more analysis on the home page of the TTI Transportation Policy Research Center at https://policy.tti.tamu.edu/. Opt in to our Transport Trends newsletter and catch up on the last 18 months of Texas Legislature transportation action at https://policy.tti.tamu.edu/txtransportation-legislation/.
Steven Polunsky is a TTI Research Scientist.