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TxDOT gets sunsetted

It probably won’t mean much, as I have my doubts the Lege will take up this recommendation, but it’s still a shot across the bow from the Sunset Commission.

Describing the Texas Department of Transportation as “a mess” that must be transformed to restore public trust, a legislative panel Tuesday recommended keeping a tight rein on the agency, removing some of its duties and whittling its oversight board from five members to one.

One of those duties that would be removed is vehicle registrations and the like.

Under the recommendation, responsibilities including vehicle titles and registration, motor carrier oversight and auto theft prevention would be moved to a new Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

The motor-vehicle department would be overseen by a seven-member board appointed by the governor to include two auto dealers, a county tax assessor-collector, a motor carrier industry representative, a law enforcement representative who’s not a state employee and two members of the public.

Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, who offered the proposal with Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, said the proposal for a new agency had been worked out with all stakeholders including Gov. Rick Perry.

I think this makes sense. Let TxDOT focus on what it actually likes to do, and move this stuff to a different agency. The devil is always in the details, but on the face of it I approve of the concept.

Back to the story:

Under the recommendation, the single commissioner still would be appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.

Sunset panel member Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, plans to file her own bill that would allow for the commissioner to be elected.

More details are here. While I wouldn’t mind electing the transportation commissioner, I’m wary about reducing TxDOT down from five members to one. I’m not sure that solves anything, and I agree with the criticism that it would eliminate TxDOT’s diversity. From the Sunset vote, this likely won’t get anywhere in the Senate, so I’m not too worried about this.

The Commission’s report is here (PDF). I think if the Lege adopts the recommendation about creating a Department of Motor Vehicles, that would count as a success. What do you think?

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