Oh man, if there was ever a time to get in contact with your Texas representatives, it's NOW.
House Bill 715 text here. Fiscal summary:
The bill would amend the Health and Safety Code by making the possession of one ounce or less of marihuana punishable as a Class C misdemeanor. Under current law the possession of marihuana is punishable as a Class B misdemeanor if the amount of marihuana possessed is two ounces or less. The bill would also state that a person?s driver?s license may not be suspended and is not automatically suspended on final conviction of an offense for which the amount of marihuana possess is one ounce or less.
A Class C misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by confinement in county jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, a fine not to exceed $2,000, or both fine and confinement.
Current law shows a possession charge of 2 ounces or less nets you up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. For 2 to 4 ounces, it's up to one year and $4,000. The provision to not punish us with the suspension of our driver's licenses is bold, because it threatens the flow of some federal highway money.
In 1990, the federal government adopted 23 USC 159, regarding the revocation or suspension of a driver license of individuals convicted of drug offenses. The law requires states to implement a suspension of 180 days for drug offenses.
The federal provisions allow for the withholding of federal highway funds for states that do not implement driver license suspensions in connection with drug offenses. As of 1996, the statute allows for 10% of certain funds apportioned under the Transportation Equity Act to be withheld. The state must provide a certification that it is enforcing the provisions of this statute. According to information received from the Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Texas received approximately $2.2 billion dollars in federal highway funds this year. If passed, TxDOT estimates that Texas could lose approximately $164 million dollars in future highway funds.
The minutes have been posted.
The chair laid out HB 715.
The chair recognized Representative Dutton to explain the measure.
Representative Keel offered a complete committee substitute.
Testimony was taken. (See attached witness list.)
The chair recognized Representative Dutton to close on the measure.
The committee substitute was withdrawn without objection.
The bill was left pending without objection.
Shultz, Dr. Landon T. (Self)
Stepnoski, Mark (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws)
Woolridge, Howard J. (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)
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