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Legislative Session Wrap Up

Yesterday, the final deadline passed and Governor Abbott took action on all of the bills that were passed during the legislative session.  As we stated in an earlier email, there were 7,324 pieces of legislation filed by the Legislature.  Of those filed, 1,429 were passed.  Governor Abbott signed 1,323 and vetoed 58.  There were 144 that the governor allowed to become law without his signature.  One of those bills was HB 1140.


Even though HB 1140 was not signed, the bill took immediate effect.  This bill amends the Occupations Code which will allow the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) to change fees for vehicles stored at vehicle storage facilities.  We anticipate that the agency’s towing advisory committee will begin discussions on this issue in one of the upcoming meetings.  The next Advisory Board Meeting will be July 30, 2019.


Another important bill was HB 61.  It was signed by the governor in early May.  Although HB 61 authorized escort flag vehicles to use flashing blue and amber lights, the new law will allow for tow trucks to also use flashing blue lights.  This bill will not be effective until September 1, 2019.  We will provide more information in another upcoming update.


Private Property Impounds


Prior to the legislative session, we met with TDLR staff to discuss the problems that you and others in our industry faced when trying to uphold your contracts with your private property clients.  During the session, we worked with members of the Legislature to resolve the issue through legislation, but time ran out.  In the next month, representatives from Southwest Tow Operators will meet with TDLR staff to see if there is a resolution to this issue. If there is no resolution, Southwest Tow Operators will start the process to request an opinion from the Texas Attorney General.  In this request, we will ask if the agency can enforce the Occupations Code dealing with private property impounds without considering the Private Property Code, too.  Once the agency seeks the request, the Attorney General will have 180 days to issue an opinion.



Next Session


While the next legislative session does not begin until January of 2021, the next 18 months will be the most critical in preparing our agenda.  Additionally, TDLR will be undergoing sunset review.  What is sunset? 


The Sunset Commission is made up of members from the Senate and House, plus 2 public members.  Every state agency is required to go through a review process by the Texas Sunset Commission every 12 years to ensure that the agency is still needed and is running efficiently.  The agency will perform a “self-evaluation” and submit it to the Commission.  Next, the Sunset staff will do their own review and will meet with industry stakeholders before they issue their report and recommendations to the Commission members.   Representatives from the Southwest Tow Operators will meet with Sunset staff in the upcoming months to provide our input.




Southwest Tow PAC


We are currently trying to build our PAC so that we can give contributions to legislators who were industry champions.  We would appreciate your contribution in any amount.  Every bit helps build our overall fund.  While our funds are slim at this time, we would like your involvement when we deliver checks and will be calling on those of you who are constituents of our champions.


One way you can help is by becoming a Southwest Tow Operators member.  If you are already  a member, please consider upgrading your membership level.  If you would like to contribute to the Southwest Tow Operators PAC, please contact our office and we will be happy to assist with payment options.


Please stay tuned for future legislative updates.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. 


Thank you all for the continued support.

10 days remain and only 380 Bills!

With only 10 days remaining, only 380 bills have gone through the entire process and are on the Governor’s desk.  The last time the Texas Legislature passed fewer was in the 1800s.  We filed several bills, but it was really a session that was weighted toward killing bills.

This session, we tracked 80 bills that could have had an impact on the towing and storage industry.   Below are some of which we were actively involved.

HB 61 by James White relating to the use of certain lighting equipment on escort flag vehicles.  While this bill was centered around escort flag vehicles and the lights they use during the course of their work the changes made to this bill will also allow for tow trucks to use amber and blue lights.  We worked with the Texas Municipal Police Association on this measure, and our member Geoff Nienstedt worked hard with local law enforcement officials to gain support in allowing tow truck drivers to use blue lights.  HB 61 was signed by the Governor on May 7th and will become law on September 1, 2019.

HB 625 by Neave relating to notice and request for a hearing regarding a vehicle that has been towed or booted, would have allowed a person to submit a written request for a hearing concerning a towed car within 60 days of the date the vehicle was towed, excluding weekends and holidays, provided that the vehicle that had been released from the vehicle storage facility to which it was towed within 20 days.  We know what you are thinking.  That is extremely convoluted and doesn’t make much sense.  Southwest Tow Operators opposed this bill in committee and member, Tasha Mora, testified in opposition to the bill.

HB 626 by Neave relating to notice of a person’s right to a hearing placed on a sign prohibiting unauthorized vehicles on a parking facility.  Southwest Tow Operators legislative team worked to oppose this bill.  The bill never received a hearing.

HB 1140 by Tracy King relates to fees for vehicles stored at vehicle storage facilities; authorizing fee increases and decreases; eliminating a fee; eliminating a minimum fee.  Southwest Tow Operators was very supportive of this measure as it moved through the process.  HB 1140 would allow TDLR to adjust the storage fee for impounded vehicles.  This bill was passed out of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee today and will be heading to the full Senate for debate and final passage. 

HB 2807 by Guillen relating to regulation and liability of certain vehicles on a highway.  Representative Guillen filed this bill on behalf of Southwest Tow Operators.  HB 2807 would have changed the penalties for move over violations.  This bill was heard in the House Licensing and Administration Committee but was faced by opposition in the Local Calendar Committee by some members.  Representative Guillen amended the language on one of his other bills, but that bill died in the Senate, unfortunately.

The legislative session will conclude on Memorial Day, but our work does not end there.  We will set our agenda for the next 18 months so that we will be ready to fill bills in the next session. 

Southwest Tow Operators will continue to work hard on your behalf in Austin. 

FMCSA Under 21 Interstate Driver Pilot Program non-military

Today, May 15th, 2019 Administrator Ray Martinez with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published notice in the Federal Register under Docket Number FMCSA-2018-0346 seeking comments on a new pilot program to allow drivers under 21 years old to operate in Interstate Commerce. This proposal is in addition to the current under 21 pilot program for drivers with military experience.

Comments are due no later than July 15th, 2019 and may be submitted in any of the below

• Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

• Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

• Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

• Fax: 1-202-493-2251.

This proposal will help small towing operations by allowing for younger drivers to enter the towing industry before they chose other career paths. This is especially important for family owned companies that want the next generation to be able to legally operate unrestricted.
Please submit your comments in support, or opposition to this pilot program as soon as possible.

Brian J. Riker, President
Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC

Our Move Over Bill, HB 2807, is stalled

Our Move Over Bill, HB 2807, is stalled in the Calendars Committee. We need your help to get it set on the House Local and Consent Calendar ASAP! 
Please take a few minutes and call the following committee members TODAY and tell them:
HB 2807 increases penalties for anyone who violates the Move Over Act for law enforcement, TxDOT workers, Fire, EMS, and Tow Trucks.  With the huge increase in the number of first responders who have been struck and injured or killed, it is important to change these penalties to deter drivers from driving recklessly.  Please vote to set HB 2807 on the House Local and Consent Calendar.  Thank you.
Please share this on Facebook. There is strength in numbers!  Please comment back when you have completed your calls! Thank you

Position Member District Area Phone
Chair: Rep. Geanie W. Morrison 30 Victoria 512-463-0456
Vice Chair: Rep. Mary E. González 75 San Elizario 512-463-0613
Members: Rep. Diego Bernal 123 San Antonio 512-463-0532
  Rep. Rhetta Andrews Bowers 113 Rowlett 512-463-0464
  Rep. Brad Buckley 54 Salado 512-463-0684
  Rep. Cody Harris 8 Corsicana 512-463-0730
  Rep. Cole Hefner 5 Mt. Pleasant 512-463-0271
  Rep. Armando Martinez 39 Weslaco 512-463-0530
  Rep. Mayes Middleton 23 Galveston 512-463-0502
  Rep. Drew Springer 68 Gainesville 512-463-0526
  Rep. Armando Walle 140 Houston 512-463-0924

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Contact Info

  • Southwest Tow Operators
  • 660 N Central Expressway, Suite 230
  • Plano, Texas 75074
  • Toll Free: (866) 320-9300

Important Messages

I hope you like the new look! We have updated the documents (requires a login to view). The store is starting to take shape, check it out!