Texas veterans drive on TxDOT roads toll-free — this bill wants to put limits on that benefit

Elizabeth Howe
May 07, 2019 - 12:55 pm

Photo courtesy of Texas Comptroller

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A toll discount program in Texas has gotten out of hand according to members of the Texas House Defense and Veterans' Affairs Committee — and it needs to be limited.

As of now, any vehicle with a disabled veteran, Purple Heart, Medal of Honor, or Legion of Honor license plate doesn't pay tolls on Texas Department of Transportation Roads. But it seems that veterans may be taking a little extra advantage of this benefit.

There are 719 veterans with five or more of these license plates. Two veterans have registered for 11, according to testimony during a Texas House Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.

Overall, the cost of the program has increased from roughly $1 million when it was first established to $7.9 million in 2017. At its current rate, the cost of the program will be $11 million by 2011. 

“It’s obviously a great program, but it’s getting out of hand,” committee Chairman Rep. Dan Flynn said during the hearing.

A bill was introduced to get the program back under control by allowing veterans only one license plate — but it received significant kickback from the veteran community. Similar legislation introduced by the House loosened the restrictions slightly — veterans can register for two license plates each with a waiver process available for a third plate in specific outstanding circumstances. 

“We don’t want to see this program go away,” Rep. Trent Ashby said during the hearing. “The intention is to strike an agreement with all interested parties.”

May 21 is the deadline for the House to take an initial vote on this legislation. 

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