Last month we wrote about House Bill 991, legislation that — as originally drafted — would have created burdensome new regulations on businesses to display the cost of taxes embedded in gasoline, and heavy fines if businesses’ attempts to comply didn’t met the arbitrary standards of state bureaucrats. The bill’s author, State Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Spring Branch), responded, saying such draconian measures weren’t his intention and that a substitute would be coming.

New language was substituted last week, creating a much improved version.

The revised measure does what Bohac says he originally intended, and the lawmaker deserves credit for demanding that the legislative drafting service in the Capitol fix the error. With the substitute language, his measure goes from very bad to very good.

The new measure puts the responsibility with state government for informing taxpayers about the hidden cost of taxes when filling up at the gas station. (By way of background, gasoline taxes are not levied at the point of sale but rather at the wholesale level.)

While not yet on the calendar for floor action, HB991 in its new form will provide taxpayers with better clarity about just how heavily taxed they are at the gasoline pump.

The episode highlights the consequences that result when lawmakers put too much confidence in the legislature’s bill drafting group — Legislative Counsel — to put policy intentions into law. But good for Mr. Bohac in forcing them to get it right.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."


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