The State of Alabama, on February 9, 2015, increased its driver’s license fees by 50%, from $23.50 to $36.25. This increase caused quite a stir; enough such that one Alabama Senator has decided to take action.
Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R- Madison) introduced SB44 on the first day of the recently convened 2015 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature. SB44 specifies that setting any charge to the public for issuing driver’s licenses or cards would be subject to the Alabama Administrative Procedures Act. This act requires state agency rule-makings to follow a process that is open for public discussion and participation.
The bill also contains a provision that makes it retroactive to February 9th and requires the State to credit any person who paid the increased fee with the difference in the amount of the increased fee and the fee prior to the increase.
A $12.75 increase doesn’t sound like much, does it?
The fiscal note accompanying SB44 indicates that as of March 3, 2015, a whopping 79,000 drivers licenses were issued at the increased rate. The fiscal note continues by estimating that the increase for driver’s license fees on an annual basis would be $12.75 million.
Yep, you read it correctly….$12.75 million.
Senator Holtzclaw’s bill was considered today by the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee and was carried over until next week.
In case you are interested in weighing in and expressing your opinion on this matter, the Senate Transportation & Energy committee is chaired by Senator Gerald Allen and is composed of Senators Greg Albritton, Clyde Chambliss, Linda Coleman, Gerald Dial, Jimmy Holley, Bill Holtzclaw, Steve Livingston, Del Marsh, Jim McClendon, Arthur Orr, Greg Reed, Quinton Ross, Hank Sanders, Clay Scofield and Tom Whatley.
Supposedly the bill was carried over because information has been provided that there are other “fees” issued by other agencies that can be increased without any oversight and there seems to be interest by the members of the committee to require these fees to be subject to the Administrative Procedures Act as well.
According to Senator Holtzclaw, the bill will be back on the committee’s agenda next week and he intends to ask for a roll call vote (as opposed to a voice vote). This vote will be watched with interest to determine how conservative this new legislature is truly going to be.