Council Balks On Ordinance Due To Last-Minute Changes

Several Houston Councilmembers tagged an ordinance that would require auto repair shops to provide written estimates and signed release forms for car work. The vote was delayed because the administration submitted a 27-page document of changes at the last minute.

The ordinance requires auto repair companies to provide a written estimate of repairs, instead of verbal estimates.
It also calls for vehicle owners to sign the estimate and give consent before any repairs are made.

But after weeks of hammering out the language and hearing from auto shops, the administration submitted an updated
version just hours before the council meeting. Councilmember C.O. Bradford says he's hesitant to vote on something that's different from what he reviewed the day before.

"The lawyer in me comes out and tells me that we need time to look at the document, to see what's in the document. And I'm going to ask a courtesy, if you would, Councilmember Lovell, to please enumerate what is the specific substitute language. It's hard for me to take the document and flip through it and compare it in the council meeting here and see what's been added and what has not been. So would you extend that courtesy and advise this councilmember what the changes are?"

Councilmember Sue Lovell led the effort to create the ordinance, which she says was driven by consumer complaints.
But she couldn't directly answer Bradford's question.

"I can't tell you line-for-line, there's a list here I can give this to you where you can see what the changes are. When I was told, after looking through this, that the industry was ready to move forward and no they're not totally happy, but at some point in time you have to move forward."

The sticking point for several of the councilmembers seemed to be the simple fact that no one specifically outlined the
changes in the 27-page document. The item was tagged and will come back for a vote next week.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...