Tag Archives: Texas DMV

DMV: Legislature’s next big project?

Texas state Rep. Scott Sanford came to our Rotary Club in McKinney the other morning to provide an update on the accomplishments of the 2019 Legislature.

Then he took a question from the audience about an issue that has been in the news of late in North Texas: insufferably long lines at Department of Motor Vehicles offices.

What is the Legislature going to do about that? How do Texans avoid having to wait in line for hours on end to get a new driver’s license or to do any kind of business at DMV?

Sanford, a McKinney Republican, didn’t have a quick-and-easy answer. He is acutely aware of the problems that have plagued Collin County DMV offices.

News reports in recent days, noting the 100-degree temperatures logged all across the state this summer, told of people waiting six or seven hours. Some of them waited until the DMV office closed, denying them the chance to get finish their business at the state office.

I’ll mention Collin County because it’s where I live. It’s also a rapidly growing part of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. The county’s population sits at right at 1 million residents. DMV needs to do a much better job of responding to residents’ needs; that’s what I have heard in our brief time living there.

It’s the kind of question that confronted Rep. Sanford. He couldn’t provide much assurance that relief is on the way.

My hope is that he takes those concerns with him to the 2021 Legislature, presuming of course that he gets re-elected next year. My sense is that DMV should be high on lawmakers’ to-do list when they return to work.

Court says Texas can ban Confederate flag

Did hell freeze over when I wasn’t paying enough attention to what was happening down below?

I’m trying to figure out what happened today at the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Texas indeed can prohibit people from displaying the Confederate flag on their motor vehicle license plates.

What’s more, one of the court’s more rigid conservatives, Justice Clarence Thomas, joined the majority in upholding the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles policy allowing the ban.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/245401-justice-thomas-sides-with-liberals-in-blocking-confederate-license

Great day in the morning!

The court has ruled correctly.

The Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans had brought the case to court after the DMV denied its request, with the backing of then-Gov. Rick Perry. The group contended it was a “free speech” issue, that it was allowed by the Constitution to make its statement of pride in the Confederacy.

Other Texans, though, objected mightily. Imagine that. The Confederate States of America seceded from the United States of America in 1861, declared war on the Union, launched the Civil War that killed 600,000 Americans. And why?

Because those states wanted the right to allow their residents to own slaves.

The Confederate flag in question has become a symbol for hate groups ever since. Go to a Klan rally and you’ll see the flag flying.

That is what drew the objection.

Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the opinion, said issuance of specialty plates is a form of “government speech,” not individual speech. Thus, government reserves the right to reject requests such as the one that came from the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans.

So, the state will get to keep making decisions on how folk can adorn their motor vehicle license plates. And if the DMV deems a particular symbol to be hateful in the eyes of Texans, then it won’t be found on our public streets and highways.

 

Nice to be wrong about a government program

Government, whether at the federal or state level, usually becomes the target for critics.

Most of the criticism is earned. Government often isn’t our friend. It’s inefficient. It hinders us in some way — or so much of the criticism goes.

I’m going to say something good about a state government idea that went into effect this past March.

Texas no longer issues windshield stickers telling the police that your car has passed a safety inspection.

I had my doubts about how this new program would work. Those doubts have been eliminated. I managed to get my big ol’ beast of a pickup’s auto registration renewed right along with a state inspection. No hassle at all.

The idea was to eliminate the printing of those stickers that used to go on the inside of your windshield. The state figures to save about $2 million annually by not having to print the stickers. Is that a lot of money in a multibillion-dollar annual budget? No. But, heck, a couple million bucks isn’t exactly walking-around money.

The new rules are pretty simple.

Within 90 days of your motor vehicle registration expiration, you get your vehicle inspected. Once approved, the inspection station attendant removes the sticker and gives you a receipt. You present your receipt to the tax assessor-collector clerk when you renew your auto registration. You then get your auto registration, which goes on your windshield all by itself. And, yes, you still have to provide proof of insurance when you get your vehicle inspected.

It’s easy.

What’s more, it saves the state a few bucks.

What can be wrong with that? Nothing, I tell ya. Nothing.

Supreme Court to hear Confederate plate case

This is going to be an interesting case headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans think Texas license plates should carry a design that includes the Confederate flag. Millions of Texans are on their side. Millions of other Texans — as yours truly — think the design is offensive in the extreme.

http://www.texastribune.org/2015/03/21/supreme-court-consider-confederate-license-plates/

The state Department of Motor Vehicles has denied the design, citing a state law that says it can deny a specialty plate “if the design might be offensive to any member of the public.” Former Gov. Rick Perry opposed the design, citing its offensiveness to millions of Texans.

Cut-and-dried, yes? Hardly.

The Sons of the Confederacy think a denial deprives the organization of freedom of speech.

Here’s how the Texas Tribune reported the sequence of events: “The group challenged the DMV’s decision in federal court, but a district judge upheld the state’s decision to restrict what it determined to be offensive content. The Sons of Confederate Veterans appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed the lower court’s decision. The court said the DMV had unlawfully discriminated against the Confederate group’s beliefs that the flag was a symbol of Southern heritage in favor of those who were offended by it.”

Southern heritage? I suppose it does represent one element of Southern heritage. That segment happens to include a Civil War that killed 600,000 Americans, a war that was fought over the South’s contention that states had the right to do certain things — such as sanction slavery.

The Confederate flag in the 150-plus years since the end of the Civil War has become a symbol of hate groups who fly the flag proudly whenever they’re protesting issues, such as granting all Americans — including African-American — the right to vote.

The symbol is offensive and should not adorn motor vehicle license plates.

I just hope the Supreme Court sees it that way, too.

 

One less sticker on the windshield

This conversation occurred this morning as I was working at one of my part-time jobs.

Customer: I heard today that the state is no longer to require inspections for our vehicles.

Me: I don’t think that’s right.

Customer: Did I hear it incorrectly?

Me: As I understand it, the state will keep inspecting vehicles, but just won’t put a sticker on the windshield.

Customer: I hope that’s right. I consider myself to be a libertarian, but I think it makes sense to inspect your car to make sure it’s safe and you don’t endanger other motorists on public roads and highways.

Me: I hear ya, man.

http://www.newschannel10.com/story/25862230/texas-to-no-longer-require-auto-inspection-sticker

So it went this morning. The state is going to inspect our vehicles and we are required to have it done 90 days before our motor vehicle registration is due. Here’s how News Channel 10’s website reports the issue: “The Houston Chronicle reports an owner must complete the inspection – which includes state vehicle safety and emissions tests — within 90 days of when the registration expires.

“Drivers will eventually have to show proof of a valid inspection to renew their vehicle registration. Officials say Texas will save about $2 million with the change, primarily in oversight and sticker costs.”

I’m a bit confused as to what this is supposed to accomplish. I understand that the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is going to save about $2 million annually, which I guess covers the cost of printing the inspection stickers we’ve been putting on our windshields right next to the motor vehicle registration sticker.

I’m not too concerned about the so-called hassle factor some folks think will occur. We’ll get used to it in quick order, just like we got used to the registration sticker on the windshield nearly two decades ago.

If it saves the state a few million bucks, I’m all for it.

I also am all for the state trying to ensure that our vehicles’ wheels won’t fly off when we’re driving down the freeway — at 80 or 85 mph.