On May 3, the Texas House passed HB 78, which would increase the registration fee for a standard vehicle in El Paso County from $84 to $94, making our fee the highest of the 254 counties in Texas. In fact, it would be the highest in the history of Texas.
In El Paso, we always seem to aim for number one!
See the excellent report by Adam Powell of the El Paso Times, which includes extensive interviews of HB 78 supporter Ted Houghton and HB 78 opponent Joe Pickett.
The bill is co-sponsored by all four of our Texas House Representatives: Mary González of District 75, Lina Ortega of District 77, Joe Moody of District 78, and Claudia Ordaz of District 79.
It has moved on to the Senate, where it had its first reading on May 15 and was immediately referred to Transportation for further review.
Our State Senator is César Blanco, and according to Powell, “it is likely that [he] will back the measure rather than bucking the will of the rest of El Paso’s state delegation.”
It is interesting that this last sentence appeared in the print edition of Powell’s report but was deleted from the digital edition.
Did Blanco’s staffers contact the El Paso Times and demand a retraction?
It is understandable that Blanco would not want to go on the record supporting the fee hike if he does not have to.
He refused to provide his position to the El Paso Times and declined to respond to all three of my emails, even though I am his constituent.
We are going to say with 99% confidence that the entire El Paso State Delegation, including Sen. Blanco, all of them Democrats, support the unprecedented fee hike.
The resulting revenue stream would be leveraged in order to issue nine-figure bonds to fund additional transportation infrastructure projects outside our City limits but within the County, encouraging sprawl while further depopulating our urban core and degrading our urban schools.
Of course, the big developers and construction firms love this bill, and they certainly made sure that all five of our delegates to Austin know it.
Thankfully, the HB 78 is stalled in the Senate and it seems highly unlikely it will overcome the opposition of the conservative Republicans before the May 29 deadline, when the 88th Legislative Session ends.
We doubt the bill will get past Sen. Robert Nichols, Chair of the Transportation Committee.
At the El Paso Taxpayer Revolt, we are going to pay much closer attention to our State Delegation and monitor their bills closely.