Legislature(2003 - 2004)
03/11/2003 02:13 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 103-MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION FEES CHAIR COWDERY announced the committee would take up SB 103, but he did not plan to pass the bill out of committee today because several people wanted to testify on the bill and were unavailable today. He asked Mr. Jardell to present the bill. MR. KEVIN JARDELL, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Administration (DOA), explained that SB 103 establishes an increase in vehicle registration fees. DOA believes it is time to re-evaluate and update user fees. He said Mr. Duane Bannock was available to testify via teleconference. MR. DUANE BANNOCK, Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), DOA, told members SB 103 would update some of the standards on the books since 1970. Since that time, only two small increases in registration fees have occurred. He and the deputy director researched the fees in all 49 states to compare them with Alaska's fees. While some states have lower registration fees, it was difficult to track down the total amount of fees those states collect through other types of taxes. Clearly, the fees in SB 103 are still less than the nationwide standard. CHAIR COWDERY asked Mr. Bannock to address the increase in registration fees for the semi-trailers and "big rigs." MR. BANNOCK said Section 4 on page 3 is specific to commercial trailers. Typically that would be a container type of trailer, but specifically it is any trailer, whether a small flatbed trailer registered commercially or a 40-foot container. He said several years ago all 50 states did away with annual registration of commercial trailers and established a one-time permanent registration. SB 103 calls for a one-time fee, but the fee will be $20 instead of $10. Currently, about 10,000 of these trailers are on the ground. DMV projects about 1,000 new trailers will be registered in Alaska [next year] and pay the $20 one-time fee. CHAIR COWDERY asked if the fee has anything to do with the licensing of those trailers. MR. BANNOCK said for all practical purposes, licensing and registering mean the same thing. Therefore, a person with a commercial trailer will get license plates with the one-time payment. Those plates will not have to be renewed year after year. CHAIR COWDERY asked if the Legislature amended the law to increase the tractor fees but lowered the trailer fees four or five years ago. MR. BANNOCK said the last major change took place in 1998 at which time legislation was enacted that eliminated $1.6 million worth of commercial trailer registration fees and charged that amount equally amongst all registered commercial vehicles. CHAIR COWDERY asked Mr. Bannock how DMV approaches registering vehicles with foreign licenses. MR. BANNOCK said a trip permit fee for the tractor portion of the truck is charged but that is not addressed in SB 103. SENATOR OLSON said it is his understanding that vehicles used for commercial purposes are considered to be revenue generating and are charged more. He asked why commercial trailers are charged a $20 registration fee in Section 4 while in Section 1(b)(6), the fee is higher for "a trailer not used or maintained for the transportation of persons or property for hire or for other commercial use, including...a boat trailer." MR. BANNOCK said the boat trailer registration that will cost $30 every two years is most likely attached to a pickup truck that right now costs $78 to register every two years. The container trailer is a one-time $10 fee. That container trailer is attached to a semi-tractor that pays $300 to register every year. He explained that when the state stopped collecting the $1.6 million on commercial trailers, those fees were shifted to all vehicles registered commercially. The state had no net loss in revenue. MR. JARDELL told members that policy was set by an earlier legislature. DOA has not addressed that policy, but is open to input from committee members. He said SB 103 does not restructure the fees. CHAIR COWDERY pointed out that SB 103 would impact an Anchorage company, K&W, by charging an additional $20,000 per year to register K&W's trailers. He said a lot of the trailers travel a very short distance. He then asked if a non-commercial trailer owner could register a trailer for up to five years at one time. MR. BANNOCK said the registration for non-commercial vehicles is biannual. SENATOR WAGONER asked Mr. Bannock if he compared the fees in SB 103 to the fees in other northwestern states. He noted that Washington State used to base registration fees on value, but now uses a set fee. MR. BANNOCK repeated that he looked at the fees for all 49 states. The State of Oregon is the least expensive state; its automobile registration fee is $15 per year. He said fees to register a two-year old gasoline powered car with an original retail price of $25,000 and a current value of $15,000 were compared and they range from $15 to $412. CHAIR COWDERY asked about the fee for privately owned motor homes. MR. BANNOCK said a motor home is currently categorized as a personal, non-commercial passenger automobile. SB 103 does not change that category. The fee is $68 for a two-year registration for any class of motor home, the same as the fee for a personal vehicle. SENATOR OLSON asked if DMV has discussed the licensing of four- wheelers. MR. BANNOCK said not in association with SB 103. He pointed out that DMV is responsible for collecting registration fees for snow machines and motorcycles. However, all terrain vehicles (ATVs) have not been addressed. SENATOR OLSON clarified that he wants to know whether trailers hauled by ATVs have to be registered, especially if they have to travel on an improvised trail. He said he received phone calls from constituents who want to know whether they will be required to license an ATV trailer or a sled being hauled by a registered snow machine. MR. BANNOCK said DMV has no interest in licensing trailers that are being hauled behind ATVs or snow machines. CHAIR COWDERY repeated that he planned to hold the bill in committee to hear more public testimony.