Bivins Bill Drives at Uninsured Motorists
Austin - The Senate approved of legislation today aimed at driving down the cost of automobile insurance by finally putting teeth into the Texas law requiring drivers to carry liability insurance coverage, according to Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. Amarillo Senator Teel Bivins, sponsor of Senate Bill (SB) 422, said that Texas leads the nation in the number of drivers that do not carry mandatory liability insurance, a figure as high as twenty percent. Bivins explained that his legislation is based on a successful Illinois statute that has taken that state's uninsured motorist rate down from seventeen percent to just below six percent.
SB 422 would require the Texas Department of Transportation to send out a mailing to a random sampling of 500,000 registered vehicle owners a year. A person who receives a notice will have thirty days to provide proof of insurance. If the person cannot provide proof, he or she will be subject to a fine and must provide proof that insurance coverage has been obtained. The vehicle registration will be cancelled if a person fails to comply.
Another provision of the bill would require insurance companies to standardize liability insurance cards to make them more difficult to counterfeit. Finally, the bill would allow consumers to buy uninsured motorist coverage with exemplary damage and non-economic damage coverages waived.
Two education bills authored by Laredo Senator Judith Zaffirini were passed unanimously by the Senate today. SB 1510 would streamline the monitoring process for Texas school districts by changing the on-site review cycle for Bilingual and English as a Second Language programs from three to five years. SB 60 would build on existing programs to implement a "system of care" model for coordination between state agencies to enhance the method in which services are provided to children who suffer from emotional disturbances and would streamline administrative operations and expenses.
Bryan Senator Steve Ogden introduced legislation aimed at protecting schoolchildren from educators who abuse or commit unlawful acts with students or minors. SB 1488 would require a superintendent or director of a school district, open-enrollment charter school, regional educational service center, or shared services arrangement, to file a report with the State Board for Educator Certification if they have reason to believe that an educator has engaged in certain incidents of misconduct. The bill would also require the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services to orally notify a school superintendent or school director when it investigates a public primary or secondary school employee.
The following legislation was also passed by the Senate today:
- SB 286, authored by El Paso Senator Eliot Shapleigh, would continue the Texas Higher Education Coordinating board for another twelve years and would require it to articulate implementation strategies for the higher education plan Closing the Gaps by 2015.
- SB 718, by San Antonio Senator Frank Madla, would create a more attractive practice environment for nurses in an effort to attract individuals to the profession and retain them once they have become licensed and registered nurses.
- SB 732, by Ft. Worth Senator Kim Brimer, would amend a Public Utility Commission requirement that certain telecommunications providers wait a specified period of time before making a win-back or retention offer to a customer that is switching to a new provider.
- SB 876, by Lubbock Senator Robert Duncan, would allow commissions on certain negotiated bond sales to be paid above the vote-authorized amount.
- SB 938, by Austin Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, would establish an enforcement provision authorizing an eligible veteran to petition in district court if he or she believes that the preferential treatment given to veterans in the hiring process by the state was ignored.
- SB 966, by Waco Senator Kip Averitt, would allow the comptroller of public accounts to enter into an agreement with a credit or debit card issuer for the benefit of public schools.
- SB 1094, by Senator Duncan, would establish the Water Conservation Task Force to review, evaluate, and recommend optimum levels of water use efficiency and conservation for Texas.