This Week in Texas: July 27, 2011

Posted July 27, 2011 in The Mignon Memo

Rep. Beverly Woolley (R-Houston) announced that she will not seek reelection to her House District 136 seat. Woolley was first elected in 1994. She served as Speaker Pro Tempore for the 82nd Legislature and has previously served as the Chair of the powerful House Calendars Committee.

Gov. Rick Perry named Texas Public Utility Commissioner Donna Nelson of Austin as the new chair of the Public Utility Commission on Tuesday. Nelson previously served as Governor Perry’s special assistant and advisor on energy, telecommunications and customer choice. She will serve an indefinite term as chair at the pleasure of the governor. Her term as commissioner expires in 2015. Nelson replaces former PUC Chair Barry Smitherman, whom Perry recently appointed to the Texas Railroad Commission.

Beginning September 1st, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles will roll out a new system that standardizes and simplifies registration fees for nearly every vehicle owner in the state. Currently, Texas has 1,745 fee categories for registration. That number is being reduced to nine weight classifications. Car and truck owners whose vehicles weigh 6,000 pounds or less will pay a base vehicle registration fee of $50.75. This is a slight reduction – about $8 – from the previous registration fee for new vehicle owners, and a small increase – around $10 – for those with older vehicles. Vehicle owners will also pay a $1 automation fee and a $1 fee for TexasSure, the electronic insurance verification program, as well as any local county fees. Fees being eliminated include the annual 30-cent reflectorization fee used to purchase the reflective license plate sheeting that was on every registration renewal, and the $5 charge for license plate transfers. This fee simplification structure was passed by the Texas Legislature two years ago. It represents the first change in Texas’ base vehicle registration fee since 1985.