Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/27/1996 09:10 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  SENATE BILL NO. 226                                                          
       An  Act  relating  to biennial  registration  of  motor                 
       vehicles; imposing biennial registration  fees on motor                 
       vehicles and authorizing a scheduled biennial municipal                 
       tax  on  motor  vehicles; relating  to  fees  for motor                 
       vehicle emissions control  programs; and providing  for                 
       an effective date.                                                      
  Co-chairman Halford directed that  SB 226 be brought  on for                 
  discussion.    Co-chairman  Frank  explained  that  the bill                 
  represents  an  attempt  to reduce  the  burden  incurred by                 
  annual   vehicle   registration   by    requiring   biennial                 
  registration.   The  department was  planning  to  implement                 
  biennial registration in  Anchorage and Fairbanks.   The Co-                 
  chairman expressed his belief  that it makes sense to  do so                 
  statewide.  The legislation contains a slight price break in                 
  that registration  would cost  $68.00 for  two years  rather                 
  than $35.00 annually.                                                        
  Senator Donley voiced  support for the bill.   He referenced                 
  last year's  passage of  legislation providing  for biennial                 
  emission  testing and  noted  ongoing discussion  of testing                 
  fees.  He then asked  that Senator Frank consider  inclusion                 
  of fee guidelines within SB 226.  It appears the cities want                 
  to double fees even though they are "only doing half as much                 
  work." Sen Donley suggested it might be appropriate to place                 
  a cap on fees.   Fairbanks has established a  $35.00 maximum                 
  for tests  while the  maximum in  Anchorage is  $50.00.   It                 
  might  be appropriate to  set a consistent  level to prevent                 
  future abuses.                                                               
  JUANITA HENSLEY, Chief,  Driver Services, Division of  Motor                 
  Vehicles,  Dept.   of  Public   Safety,  next  came   before                 
  committee.    She  noted that  vehicle  registration  is the                 
  simplest transaction performed  by the division.   The state                 
  presently contracts  with 20 offices  which perform  vehicle                 
  registration at  the same time   emission  testing is  done.                 
  Vehicles may  also  be registered  by  mail.   Mrs.  Hensley                 
  acknowledged that the department hoped to implement biennial                 
  registration by July 1 to allow  those who choose to license                 
  for  two  years to  do  so.   The  proposed bill  would make                 
  biennial registration  a requirement.   Mrs.  Hensley voiced                 
  department support for the legislation.                                      
  Senator  Randy  Phillips  noted  that  those who  choose  to                 
  register in  person, rather than  through the  mail, pay  an                 
  additional $10.00 fee  and suggested that the  proposed bill                 
  might  provide  a remedy  for  problems associated  with the                 
  extra charge.  Co-chairman Halford asked if the intent is to                 
  provide  a discount for  mail renewal rather  than a penalty                 
  for registration at a division of motor vehicles' office.                    
  Discussion followed regarding  municipal motor vehicle taxes                 
  collected by the division on behalf of municipalities.  Mrs.                 
  Hensley explained  that  municipalities  which  collect  the                 
  personal property tax themselves set  the level of taxation.                 
  If the municipality  elects to have the division collect the                 
  tax at the time of registration, the tax schedule is set  by                 
  statute.    The  emission  test  fee   is  set  by  the  two                 
  communities  that   require  the   test.     The  Dept.   of                 
  Environmental   Conservation    also   sets   a    fee   for                 
  administration of the program.  Co-chairman Frank asked that                 
  Mrs. Hensley provide information on the state charge as well                 
  as fees  levied by Fairbanks  and Anchorage  municipalities.                 
  Further discussion  of certificate  and test  fees followed.                 
  Co-chairman Frank  voiced his  understanding that fees  were                 
  intended to cover costs rather than to be applied  as a tax.                 
  Senator Rieger advised of his  recollection that the fee  in                 
  Anchorage was  intended to cover publicity at  the outset of                 
  the program.                                                                 
  Co-chairman  Halford  suggested  that  addition of  language                 
  relating  to  a   discount  for  mail  registration   and  a                 
  limitation of emission test fees occur  while the bill is in                 
  committee rather than via floor amendment.                                   
  Senator  Donley  voiced   concern  regarding  reductions  to                 
  division   of  motor   vehicle  offices  contained   in  the                 
  Governor's  budget.    He  acknowledged  that  the  division                 
  generates greater revenue  than it is given  for operations.                 
  He then  reiterated support  for the  proposed bill,  saying                 
  that  resulting  reductions  in revenues  would  not  impact                 
  division funding.  He voiced  further concern regarding cuts                 
  that   would   eliminate   enforcement   of  the   financial                 
  responsibility act because it directly serves needy Alaskans                 
  who are innocently victimized in  accidents.  Senator Rieger                 
  remarked  that   the  $40.00  reduction  in  everyone's  PFD                 
  mentioned  in  discussion  of SB  37  is  comparable  to the                 
  increase  that  everyone   purchasing  insurance  pays  when                 
  uninsured  motorist coverage  is  added to  policies because                 
  Alaska  still has  the one free  accident rule.   A fix here                 
  would benefit every Alaskan who purchases auto insurance.                    
  END:      SFC-96, #30, Side 2                                                
  BEGIN:    SFC-96, #30-A, Side 1                                              
  Co-chairman  Halford  directed  that  SB   226  be  held  in                 
  committee for subsequent discussion.                                         

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