Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/27/1996 09:10 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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.