Published on May 07, 2021
A bill to establish a traffic camera program to track uninsured motorists in Texas will likely not make it out of committee in the state legislature before an important May 10 deadline, according to a political activist familiar with Texas legislative issues. A similar piece of legislation will also not advance in the Florida legislature, likely dealing a blow to Rekor Systems (REKR), which had lobbied both legislatures for passage of the bills.
Rekor sells a product known as the Rekor One platform, which its 10K describes as allowing “for real-time detection of non-compliant vehicles and instant data consolidation into a regularly updating insurance system connected to the state’s enforcement and intervention programs.”
According to the 10K, Rekor hopes to leverage Oklahoma’s adoption of the Rekor One platform for its Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Diversion (UVED) program into business opportunities with other states, citing pending legislation in New York, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas.
In Texas, where Rekor hired the lobbying firm McWilliams, the state legislature has taken a turn against automated traffic enforcement programs like Rekor’s. In 2019, Texas banned red light cameras statewide.
Kelly Canon, a conservative activist who was instrumental in securing passage of the Texas red light camera ban, said that she had little confidence that the current bill would be passed by the Republican-dominated legislature, especially given the similarities between the two programs.
This similarity came up during an April 15 meeting of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. As Rep. Eduardo Lucio III presented the bill, Rep. Tony Tinderholt said that his “biggest concern” was “having an electronic system that was enforcing laws” and did not require violators to face their accuser, referring to a main issue that drove the red light camera ban.
Citing a lack of forward movement for the bill since that hearing, Canon said that it was unlikely the bill would make it out of committee.
“It’ll probably die a slow death there. There are deadlines looming to get bills out of committee on the floor. If it’s been stalled in committee since April 15, that’s probably where it’s going to stay.”
“Democrats introduced this on both ends,” Canon added, referring to the state House and Senate versions of the bill, “so that should give you some indications of its chances,” adding that it was unlikely to make it through the state Senate.
According to the calendar for the current Texas legislative session, May 10 is the last day for House committees to report bills, which Canon said was a do-or-die day for the bill. The legislative session ends on May 31.
A representative from Lucio III’s office did not know whether the state representative would introduce the bill next session.
In Florida, state representatives have also tried passing a bill that would establish an Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Program, but it died at the end of April in the state Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee. A spokesman for Rep. Scott Plakon, who sponsored the bill, could not confirm whether the representative would pursue it next session.
Rekor, through firm PooleMcKinley, lobbied for the Florida bill to be passed. Rekor has been a lobbyist in Florida since July 2020 and donated between $10,000 and $19,999 to the Florida state legislative branch in both the third and fourth quarters of 2020.
Rekor did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article.