Executive Director’s Column

Legislative Update:

The 86th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature is approaching its final month and I wanted to provide a brief report on some of the activities your government relations team is working on. We are presently tracking 63 bills which could impact the RV industry. The following is a brief review of a few of these bills which are of importance to the RV industry.

HB 1262 by K. Bell: The bill would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to develop a system of registration to allow the owner of a trailer, semitrailer or pole trailer with a gross weight of 7,500 pounds or less to register the vehicle for up to five years. A trailer owner could select the number of years for registration and would pay the cumulative fees for the entire registration period at the time of registration. This bill has passed the House after receiving only one “nay” vote and is now with the Senate. TRVA supports this bill and is optimistic regarding its approval by the Senate.

SB 604 by Buckingham: The bill amends current law relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and to the operations of certain other entities performing functions associated with the department upon review of the Sunset Advisory Commission. The TxDMV wanted to discontinue the preapproval of Motor Vehicle Shows, including RV Shows, by the agency due to the lack of consumer complaints. TRVA took issue with this and attempted to derail the Sunset Commission’s position to support this notion by TxDMV because we believe the reason there are few consumer complaints is due to the actual supervision conducted by the agency. Reducing this oversight just did not seem prudent. TxDMV and the Sunset Commission ignored our concerns and pleas and so it became necessary to seek an amendment to the TxDMV Sunset Commission Bill, SB 604, which we have amended to include a notification requirement to the TxDMV by a show organizer who is producing a show. TRVA now supports this bill in its current state.

HB 2810 by Kacal: This bill would amend the Transportation Code to exempt a trailer, towable RV, semitrailer, or pole trailer with a gross vehicle weight under 4,500 pounds from the requirement to be equipped with emergency brakes that operate on all wheels of the vehicle by increasing the minimum weight threshold determining whether such a requirement applies. This bill would clear up an inconsistency in the statutes which mentions an exemption can apply to a towable trailer weighing under 3,500 pounds and in a different statute the exemption is allowed for a towable trailer weighing 4,500 pounds. TRVA supports is bill.

CSHB 2940 by Clardy: This bill amends the Occupations Code to limit the application of the prohibition against a manufacturer or distributor of motor vehicles owning an interest in, operating or controlling, or acting in the capacity of a franchised dealer or dealership to those activities with regard to a dealer or dealership for the same type of motor vehicle that the manufacturer manufactures or distributes or the distributor distributes. The bill sets out classifications that constitute types of motor vehicles for purposes of this prohibition. This bill is known as the Berkshire Hathaway Bill for it will remove the prohibition for Berkshire Hathaway to own both Berkshire Hathaway Automotive and Forest River and for both to be able to conduct business legally in Texas. TRVA fully supports this bill for we need to not prohibit the supply of Forest River products to our dealers.

HB 3842 by K King: This bill amends the Transportation Code to expand to any motor vehicle dealer the applicability of the requirement for a dealer to obtain a general distinguishing number for a consignment location, unless the consignment location is a wholesale motor vehicle auction, by removing the provision limiting applicability of the requirement to a dealer who consigns for sale more than five vehicles in a calendar year from a location other than the location for which the dealer holds a general distinguishing number. The bill would require consignment lots to be licensed by the TxDMV and obtain a GDN. TRVA supports this bill for it will further regulate small consignment lots and require them to hold to the same requirements as those consignments lots which are already regulated.

HB 3077 by K King: This bill relating to certain obligations of franchised dealers in connection with certain warranties for a new motor vehicle. The bill would formally impose the right of a dealer to provide warranty repairs in the event of a Lemon Law claim. TRVA supports this bill.

CSHB 1692 by Leach: The bill would amend the Transportation Code to authorize the Department of Public Safety to adopt rules providing for the inclusion on a vehicle inspection report notification regarding whether the vehicle is subject to a safety recall for which the vehicle has not been repaired or the repairs are incomplete. There are simply too many motor vehicles and RV’s on the public highways which have not had the necessary safety recalls completed and therefore endanger all Texas citizens. TRVA supports this bill.

HB 4326 by Martinez: This will would impose a local fee on the sale or lease of a new luxury motor vehicle in certain areas. In other words, in the event a new motor vehicle sells for $55,000 or more there would be an additional 1% tax levied on the purchase price of both motorhomes and travel trailers. Under the bill, most any county could elect to impose this additional tax which would be used to build or improve public roads, construct or improve drainage systems or construct or maintain flood control facilities. Now, all those uses of the funds seem worthwhile, but placed on the backs of RV purchasers is not realistic since some towable and most motorhomes exceed the $55,000 “luxury” standard established in the bill. In the extreme, a $750,000 motorhome would or could come with an added $7,500 luxury tax bill and TRVA opposes this bill.

HB 4405 by Gullen: The bill would require that applicants applying for an initial vehicle dealer general distinguishing number complete a dealer education course. A new applicant for a GDN would be required to complete an education course at least 24 months prior to applying for a GDN from the TxDMV. The TxDMV would develop the course and colleges or trade associations would provide the course to prospective dealers.

SB 616 by Birdwell: This bill would transfer the driver license program of the Texas Department of Public Safety to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. TRVA supports this bill as it would seem prudent to allow the TxDPS to focus on law enforcement without the need to be burdened with the control of the driver license program in Texas.

SJR 24 by Kolkhorst: It has been suggested that the current allocation of the sporting goods sales tax has not provided a reliable source of funding for state and local parks and historic sites as intended. Reports indicate that the infrastructure of these parks and sites is outdated and inadequately maintained. There is an identified need to provide sustained and predictable funding through the automatic appropriation of the tax, as such funding may offer a path forward to meet state park construction, operations, and customer demands. S.J.R. 24 seeks to address this issue by providing for the automatic appropriation of the sporting goods sales tax to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. TRVA supports this bill as it would facilitate the many improvements which are needed in our Texas state parks system.

There are many other bills which could impact your business model, e.g., franchise tax, sales tax, minimum wage, etc., and of course we are following those as well.

If you have a specific interest please contact Phil Elam at philelam@trva.org.