Monday, September 17, 2018

Notes from August 29th Texas Sunset Commission hearing regarding DPS license issuance office closures et al.

I was in Austin for Texas Association of Counties Leadership and Legislative Session training and preparation the week of this hearing, and went to the Capitol to attend.
Here are my notes. I stayed from the beginning until I had to leave.

Notes on Sunset Commission Meeting, 9 AM, Wednesday August 29th, 2018.

Decision items:

Texas Military Dept: no modifications or new issues proposed. Move to adopt the report by chair.

No objections. Approved unanimously

Texas Dept of Motor Vehicles:
 Issues include too many industry members on board. Need outside public member.
Chairman Birdwell abstains and says he has a modification.
Says that topic of how regulatory boards are set up was discussed at length at last meeting.
Requests that the Legislature as a whole address this issue for all agencies and boards. Omnibus bill. Board structure changes issues 1.2 would be addressed.
No objections.
Motion for whole item will not include those issues. Unanimously approved.

Kirk Watson has a modification to adopt his modification to1.4. Adopted unanimously.

Issue 1.1 is adopted. Issue one as modified is adopted.

Issue 2:
Fraud warning systems for county tax assessors. Ability to suspend access to system.

Pataki has modification. Instructs DMV to work with county tax assessors to create methods for identifying red flags.

Thompson: training issues. Needs to be available online. Adopted.

Issue 2.4 cooperation between dealers and tax assessors, agency for best practices sharing.

2.5 : ability for agency and tax assessors to audit dealers. Adopted.

Issue 2 with modifications adopted.

Issue 3:
Motion n to remove 3.1 by Lambert. Second. Vote is split, mostly yes.Nevarez votes no. 3.1 is adopted. 6/5 1 abstention. Remainder of issue 3 to be voted on.
General counsel for commission says 3.1 passes for now, but final vote must have majority of members voting, which is 7.
Confusion about passage.
Chairman says every vote must be a majority of the quorum. 6/5 vote means it does not count only on final passage.
Rep Flynn needs clarification.
Motion for adoption of whole issue is key. Chair says 3.2 to 3.9 can be voted on without 3.1.
No modification to overall, 3.1 would be included.
Chair makes motion to vote  on 3.2-3.9

Issue 4.2 modification to keep lease facilitator. Says that leases are confusing, dealers put this in twenty five years ago. Adopted.

Issue 4.1
Rep Flynn moves against entire issue. Says that he does not like the changes.
Vote on 4.1 4.1 is adopted, 6/5/1

Issue 4.3-4.7 up for adoption.
No objections. Adopted.

Issue 5:
Modification by rep Thompson.
Wants 8 year sunset period. Objection. Roll vote
Nevarez votes no.
3 yes, 8 nays, 1 abstention.
Issue 5 as a whole, unmodified.
Vote is unanimously adopted.

New Recomendations:
Rep Paddie:
Faster tech implementation.
Hall asks if we can change a date within a statute.
Deadline was 2021, Paddie says he would like to see the 2018 date, which was originally signed by Texas State.
Not changing deadline.
Buckingham wants to ask DMV rep a question. No objection.
DMV Rep: Whitney Brewster, executive Director. Is the date feasible?
She says March 2019is feasible.
California has a pilot program. Fleet vehicles, electronic plates.
Loss of revenue to State? Study will address this.
Paddie says that his modification addresses timeliness. Why such a late start?
Rep says that they tried, deadline was negotiated, hoped for dec 2018.SB 2076 got in the way, not completed in time.
Paddie wants to change his modification to March 2019.
Nichols wants to wrap up this study quickly.
Earlier the better for session purposes.
Dept needs to identify any statutory impediment to a pilot program. He sees no reason this should be delayed at all. Information needed for session.
Paddie says end of March is ok with him.
Modification adopted.

 Recommendation 1 adopted.

Buckingham recommendation 2:
 Oversight of salvage vehicle industry.
Less reactive, more proactive


Buckingham recommendation 3:
 Criminal history of salvage dealers and business partners.

Hall recommendation 4:
Audits by comptroller of tax assessors. Rolling it into existing audits of tax assessors.
Hall has a new modification, previous sentence references it.
Watson has a question about giving DMV the ability to audit, not comptroller.
Hall says this is for the comptroller, not DMV.
Comptrollers office has looked at this to make it revenue neutral.
Watson says it should not be discretionary to determine audit. Why is this not already included in the existing audit?
Would analyze processes, not just revenue.
Modification to recommendation adopted.
Paddie asks about insertion of comptroller issues in DMV sunset. Could this cause a problem later?
Director says that it is possible it could add a comptrollers statue in the bill. Not a problem, necessarily. Says sometimes that could open up the possibility for extra amendments. Paddie has this is his objection. Chair would like to accomplish the same goal without taking on the risk. Director says that if direction was given for DMV to have a duty to consult with comptroller on this. Director wants to know if the issue should be pulled or worked out now.
Chair says committee will stand at ease for twelve minutes and get language together.

Recommendation is adopted.


Issue 1:
Close inefficient offices. 11/1 does not pass.

Nevarez brings up Presidio as examples of a lesser used office not necessarily inefficiency.
He brings up mega centers in urban areas to be overkill. Small rural offices are not overkill.
Sen Hall: agrees with Nevarez. Brings up that when the State requires the public to do something we must not make it difficult to do.  He had a closure of an office in his district with some flimsy excuses as to why. Onus is on legislators to have an efficient system. DPS should provide a better service, not less. He found out several offices are only open one or two days per week. He did not know. Offices are not providing the service that is required. Need to be serving people.
Rep Flynn agrees  with sentiments wholeheartedly. How office has heard from constituents vehemently.
Nichols: it’s clear that the definition of inefficient offices is incorrect. Inefficiency is making people drive hours to wait in lines.
Call centers also have an issue. Only handling 5000 calls out of 25,000 per day.
Chair says that it’s clear that in this case inefficiency to the State is efficient to the citizens.
Sunset had the confidence to make recommendations. This works.
Four out of five recommendations tend to make it into policy change.
Director says that the DPS issues have been very confusing. Lots of misinformation. Sunset commission wanted to protect the rural areas.
Offices to be closed were near mega centers, duplication of services. DPS provided their own list of inefficient offices.
Chairman says that if the Sunset commission is going to change the structure of the agency, it would not be wise to change operations before the change in operating structure.
Flynn says that requiring the public to require things the public needs to be able to do them at their convenience, not ours.
Nichols says that the word inefficient was not defined clearly, just referencing for next time.
DPS was bringing up rural versus mega centers.

Item 1.2 : Birdwell would like to privatize analysis on transferring license issuance to DMV rather than internal inter agency rivalry getting in the way.
Watson elaborates on additional modification to modification.
Recognition that this system is broken and needs to be fixed.
We need funding, otherwise it will be static. Watson  wants to ask Lege for funding, hopefully get a bill for transfer in 2021. If no funding, then we move.... Hall would like to move this up, have it happen even faster. This is a needed fix.
Watson says this is urgent but it’s bigger then being able to do it quickly.
Concern is this is done correctly. Second, third and fourth order of effects are very important. Two legislative sessions needed, says Birdwell.
If study is not funded, new modification funds transfer in 2021 session. Move to DMV. Two agencies equal in stature and power will not be able to work this out on their own. Third party necessary.
Hall has an objection, says deterioration of service cannot wait five years.
Watson says DPS needs to hear how fed up we are, hopes it does not lead to additional inefficiency in agency.
If 86th funds recommendation report is done by Sept 1 2020. if not, then process starts and transfer occurs by Sept 1, 2021., after 87th weighs in.
What is the likelihood of no funding being approved? Watson says he thinks this will be a priority, but he cannot guarantee.
Nichols says this would be a major change in budgeting, we need to be sure we get it right the first time, rather than having to come back to it.
Agrees with taking time.

Modification amended as modified, adopted

Issue 2:

DPS  Border Security Performance:
Nevarez has a concern:
Flynn issues objection to issue 2: says DPS has already taken care of it.
Objection to entire item
Issue 2:  vote on entirety:

Nevarez: says that he is concerned bout wording. Mission was outlined two sessions ago. Says crime statistics reporting with regard to what is border security and not border security. Says all crimes are being bootstrapped into border security crimes. Many crimes do not apply.
Seems like recommendation is weekly worded in order to quantify success.
If we want to do it better, this is not adequate.
2.2 says that DPS was already ordered to do this. Very detailed task was assigned. Wording here is not detailed.
Birdwell responds that the process was indeed detailed, this would make the reporting non-discretionary. This is not a change in the requirements.
Nevarez says that this is a political issue, if we are going to do this, what are we getting back? Statistics need to reflect the facts of actual border issues, not just regular issues that occur everywhere. Accurate, not co-mingled data.
Birdwell understands and says he will call the vote. Thinks Nevarez’s concern is valid, might be best to codify within Legislation. Does not want to consider a last minute modification without time to deliberate it.
Nevarez says that he doesn’t think a modification is necessary and that the bill as it was passed four years ago has not generated quantifiable results.
Flynn says that he believes that this is all being done well, already being done. Says extra reporting is unnecessary.
Adoption of issue 2 vote:
Nevarez has an objection to issue 2.1 , 2.2, and 2.3
Vote on entirety.
Flynn and Nevarez vote no, all yes otherwise. Issued 2 adopted.

Issue 3:
Private Security Board.
Modification by Birdwell to have board members of public safety commission delegate the members of the private security board. Passed unanimously

Watson modification to 3.1 adopted. Eliminates some licenses. Options for licensing . Adequate experience is classified as comparable experience to the existing requirements.
 Nevarez recommendation unnecessary now that earlier adopted.

Issue three adopted with modifications.

Left meeting at 11:47 AM


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