Residents of House District 8, which is currently (mis)represented by State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana) are beginning to hear about his many misdeeds – including efforts to violate the First Amendment rights of Texans, give special privileges to illegal aliens, and strip “mother” and “father” off of birth certificates. But do they know about the time Cook authored a bill to increase “speed traps?”

That’s right. Byron Cook is pro-speed trap.

During the 83rd legislature, Cook authored HB 811 and managed to the get the bill voted out of the House Transportation Committee before it died in Calendars. The bill, “Relating to the disposition of fines for traffic violations collected by certain municipalities and counties,” would have repealed provisions of the transportation code designed to eliminate speed traps. Those local governments, which are prone to setting up speed traps in order to collect revenue from passing motorists, are disincentivized from harassing taxpayers by a statute that requires them to remit a portion of traffic ticket revenue to the state. Cook’s bill would have repealed those restrictions.

According to the background and purpose for HB 811 authored by Cook’s staff:

“Interested parties contend that current law limits the amount certain municipalities and counties can collect from highway traffic fines, and they further characterize these limitations as a means of preventing the operation of speed traps.  However, there is a concern that these restrictions have a negative impact on municipalities and counties that are attempting to deter motorists from driving at speeds significantly over the speed limit.  C.S.H.B. 811 seeks to remedy this situation for certain small municipalities and counties by repealing provisions limiting the amount of revenue from traffic violations such entities are authorized to retain.” [emphasis added]

One of Cook’s constituents, a resident of Rice, testified in support of the bill. Rice, population 798, is located on Interstate 45 between Corsicana and Ennis and is precisely the type of town which would want to set up a speed trap in order to harass Texans traveling between Houston and Dallas.

Byron Cook’s record in office is so bad that at times it seems unbelievable. Cook’s constituents will have an opportunity to vote on his record of supporting unpopular policies in the March 1st primary election.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.