By Ender Reed
TAC Legislative Staff
HB 1517 by Rep. Jason Isaac authorizes a county with a population of less than 5,000 to use a fine collected for a violation of a highway law as the county determines appropriate if the commissioners court, by resolution, elects to spend the revenue in a manner other than as provided in current law (i.e., to construct and maintain roads and bridges, enforce laws regulating the use of highways, and defray the expense of county traffic officers).
o use these fines for another purpose may only retain from certain fines and special expenses collected an amount equal to 30 percent of the county’s revenue for the preceding fiscal year from all sources, other than federal funds and bond proceeds, as shown by a specified audit.
After a county has retained 30 percent, the county must send to the comptroller any portion of a highway fine or a special expense collected that exceeds $1 more than that initial 30 percent. Highway fines under this legislation are defined as any fine collected under Title 7 of the Transportation Code and are not exclusive to fines given specifically on a “highway;” all roads are included in the definition.
Special expenses defined under Article 45.051, Code of Criminal Procedure, are fines arising from misdemeanor cases where under a no contest or guilty plea the judge assesses a “special expense” in lieu of fine as punishment for the offense.
The bill also prescribes certain reporting requirements when the amount retained from fines and special expenses meets a specified threshold. The comptroller will prescribe a form which counties must use to report this matter.
The law became effective Sept. 1, 2011. 8 Sep 2011