Texas Hospitals Worked to Forge Compromise Legislation to Preserve Trauma Hospital Funding and Repeal DRP
(Austin – May 25, 2017) We are deeply disappointed that certain interest groups blocked passage of House Bill 2068 in the last days of the 85th Legislature. HB 2068 would have replaced the Driver Responsibility Program with a fairer, more just system of fines for traffic violators and those convicted of driving while intoxicated or without auto insurance.
Had it passed, HB 2068 immediately would have freed thousands of Texans from the burden of the DRP’s revolving door of fines, surcharges and jail sentences and ensured that Texas hospitals could continue providing life-saving trauma care. In seeking to amend HB 2068 on the Senate floor, however, detractors ensured its defeat, ending chances for the repeal of the DRP -- long criticized by county judges, law enforcement and criminal justice reform advocates – and its overdue replacement.
HB 2068 would have been a win-win for Texas citizens, Texas trauma hospitals, Texas counties and those interested in fair criminal justice. It would have:
- Replaced the DRP’s system of fines and surcharges with an increased state traffic fine on all offenders;
- Strengthened the fines and penalties for DWI offenders as well as those convicted of driving without auto insurance;
- Given local judges the authority and discretion to adjudicate cases and consider individual circumstances when assessing penalties; and
- Eliminated $11 million a year in duplicative government spending and 40 FTEs currently required to administer the program.
Unfortunately, groups with little interest in forging an effective compromise torpedoed the bill’s chances of passage and ensured continuation of the DRP to help fund trauma and indigent care in Texas.