(The Center Square) – Lawmakers heard testimony for bills in the House Transportation Committee aiming to save taxpayers money and shorten lines at Secretary of State (SOS) offices.
The first bill seeks to eliminate adhesive license plate registration tabs that show its expiration date.
Also, drivers wouldn’t have to carry proof of vehicle registration in a vehicle.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Maddock said he received complaints about waits in local SOS offices, which had increased from 45 minutes to three to four hours.
Maddock wants to reduce lines by allowing the 5,000 banks in Michigan also to handle vehicle registrations, which he said entailed about 60 percent of SOS traffic.
Maddock said the legislation would save taxpayers “a significant amount of money” through cost savings from not mailing or printing stickers annually and a few dozen possible SOS layoffs.
One potential drawback could be if drivers forget to renew their vehicle registration without the tab as a reminder.
The Department of State estimated the bill could result in saving $500,000, according to a nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency analysis.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation estimated eliminating tabs would save $3.1 million annually, with cost savings of $2 million from mailing and postage costs. Pennsylvania has a similar number of registered drivers as Michigan.
The Michigan Sheriffs Association said it opposes the bill.
The second bill aims to allow banks to fulfill SOS services such as renewing vehicle registration and driver’s licenses.
Banks could place a kiosk in their lobby or train tellers to process transactions.
There are 123 SOS kiosks in grocery stores right now, Maddock said.
Rep. Tenisha Yancey, D-Harper Woods, was concerned banks could charge high fees for unwitting customers if a local SOS office shut down.
Matt Levin of the Michigan Department of State said the second bill would create a mandate for the government to create a complex and expensive program for banks to provide SOS services.
Levin said bank models are pivoting from in-person services to online services as well.
As written, Levin said the bills’ regulatory hurdle would cost more taxpayer money than the bill would save through reduced SOS services, although he didn’t provide the cost.
Levin said his group isn’t completely opposed to some changes, such as placing more kiosks in stores.
Michigan State Police Sgt. Nicole McGhee opposed HB 5250 because their computers sometimes have connectivity problems with running license plates to verify current registration, and some agencies lack that equipment.
They can’t automatically run plates, McGhee said, so they would have to input every license plate into a computer.