Mighty Casey has struck out.
I got a call today from Rep. Phil King's Chief of Staff, Mattie Parker. She had some very bad news. HB4495 will NOT be getting a hearing in the House Transportation Committee. For all the bluster Gov. Rick Perry has been touting for Texas' state's rights and secession from the Federal government, it seems TXDOT is not like minded. They are submissive to federal regulations.
TXDOT is vehemently opposed to allowing minitrucks on Texas roads. The reasons they gave me were the same ones I've heard over and over again. Pollution, crash safety and VIN number length. All of which make absolutely no sense and Mattie said so. Smartcars, Gators, Mules, Rhinos, golf carts, ect all are smaller and can be legally street driven in Texas and most are much less safer than minitrucks. Minitrucks are very environmentally friendly with tiny engines under 700cc and have catalytic converters, fuel injection, superchargers and many more enviromentally friendly, fuel efficient and safety features. Their emissions, fuel consumption and carbon footprint are a drop in the bucket compared to a 1/2 ton truck.
Do they belong on I-35? No. Are they safe to drive on rural Texas highways? Yes. But until TXDOT signs off on KEI class vehicles (and that ain't happening until the Feds do), Phil King won't be pursuing this any further. He can't be a martyr for a lost cause and I can't blame him. She suggested I contact US Rep. Kay Grainger and get it fixed at the Federal level.
Repeat after me... "a snowball's chance in hell!"
To say I'm disappointed is an understatement, but I understand. There's no money behind it. I'm just a lowly American consumer wanting to exercise my personal freedom. Not a dealer, wholesaler, importer or broker trying to make a buck. I'm not making a nickle off this and can't fund the nessesary paperwork or R&D out of my pocket to do so. I had a good year last year, but it wasn't THAT good. The manufacturers don't want to spend the money to get KEI class vehicles certified in the US. Why should they? They already have the market cornered here with larger, more expensive vehicles that they make a bigger profit margin from. They sell as many KEI class as they can make in Japan and have a built in market for more.
In Japan KEI class vehicles must meet rigid emission standards that make California's look like a pollution soup secret family recipe. Each year vehicles must be reinspected (just like our inspection stickers). But, the older the vehicle the more expensive the inspection. After 5 years or so, it is cheaper to buy a new vehicle than get them reinspected. Guess what they do with those 5 year old vehicles? Yup, they sell them overseas.
Which brings us to where we are today.
I do want to thank everyone that took the time to call Austin and make your voice heard. Your calls were not in vain. There was a flood of supporters in the last few days. We got enough people to respond that they pushed HB4495 as far as they could, but TXDOT refused to sign off on it. Without TXDOT, it was doomed. If gas was still $4.50 a gallon we might have had a chance. It's not over, but I feel like Kevin Spacey in "Recount" after the Supreme Court decision.
Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
If I had the time and money I would pursue this at the Federal level. But, there are much bigger fish to fry there. I'm afraid minitrucks isn't one of them, even in my own personal agenda. Let's get that spending and war thingy under control first.
The worst thing about this? Those freakin' Okies are one up on Texas!