…and lose some.
I’m in my third term in the House of Representatives and I’ve been privileged to pass a number of bills through the Legislature and into law…the Veterans Cash lottery scratch-off game which has raised millions for Texas veterans…new consumer protections for apartment tenants…a measure to crack down on child pornographers…those are just a few of the measures I’ve been fortunate to work on and convince my colleagues to support.
And then this week, something new (for me) happened. I presented a bill to the House that my staff and I have been working on for more than two years — a measure to require bars to carry liquor liability insurance. This has always seemed like a fairly straight-forward, common-sense idea to me. In fact, when I would tell people about the bill, the reply I would most often receive was, “that’s not already the law?”. So I thought this was something that would have a decent chance of passing.
Was I wrong about that — not only did it not pass, the vote wasn’t even close.
Now, I’ve got a lot of good proposals moving through the process and this has already been a productive session for District 101. But it really is too bad that this bill did not pass — because it would have helped a lot of innocent Texans who will be victims of drunk drivers.
It’s about families like the Khaders, who lived in Arlington in 2009 when a seven-time convicted drunk driver crashed into them, injuring their two-year old son Abdallah so severely that he lived the rest of his young life in a permanent vegetative state until he died from his injuries earlier this year.
It’s about families like the Wards, who came to testify for my bill recently — explaining how Garry could no longer work due to the injuries he sustained in a 2010 accident caused by a drunk driver. They’re trying to get by, raising a 5-year old daughter on Angela’s school teacher salary.
It’s about families like the Fords, who in 2012 lost their 20-year old daughter, a student at TCC, when a drunk driver barreled down US 287 going the wrong way. He had been over-served at Cowboys, a bar in District 101.
In each of these tragic cases, the bars in which the drunk driver had last been drinking shared two unfortunate characteristics — first, they grossly over-served an obviously intoxicated person, a violation of state law, and two, they had no liquor liability insurance. No amount of money will ever change the fact that these innocent families had their lives shattered. And for that matter, the modest insurance limits required in my bill — $500,000 for a single occurrence — would have only made a small dent in the Khaders’ health care expenses for little Abdallah, expenses which exceeded $20 million.
I didn’t think passing the bill would be easy, but since this type of insurance is widely available and several states already have this requirement in place, I felt pretty confident it would pass. In fact, the bill was voted unanimously of committee, not just once, but twice — this year and two years ago.
But of course these days, nothing at the Capitol is ever a slam dunk. We’ve seen that over and over again (and you’ve read about it in my previous emails).
As with many things in life, no matter how good an idea, no matter whether or not it’s simply the right thing to do, sometimes you come up short. That’s what happened on Monday.
This isn’t the end of the fight. And we will find a way to make these terrible tragedies result in some meaningful changes that will help serve future generations of Texans.
This just wasn’t the right year or the right time, but I’m determined to keep up this fight until we win.