A Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) budget request that would have required Ohio drivers to pay $10 for new license plates every seven years was apparently dropped by the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) soon after it was announced on January 28. Conservative activist group Americans for Prosperity – Ohio (AFP Ohio) put out a release rallying opposition to the proposal on January 31.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the proposal would have generated $5 million for the state each year. ODPS claimed that mandatory replacement of plates every seven years would address concerns from law enforcement agencies that some drivers’ license plates are difficult to read. However, state law already requires that plates damaged or worn to the point of illegibility be replaced.
Under Section 4501-27-02 of the Ohio Administrative Code, drivers must replace license plates that are “difficult or impossible to read from a reasonable distance because the feature is damaged, deteriorated, faded, or obscured in any significant way.”
“Governor Kasich needs to put the brakes on this proposal that would cost Ohio motorists millions of dollars in unnecessary fees,”AFP Ohio policy director Seth Morgan wrote in a January 31 email announcement. “As Ohio families continue to struggle economically, the last thing they need is another fee imposed upon them from the government.”
Morgan added, “Taking more money from Ohio families should not be an option in Governor Kasich’s budget. We oppose this proposal and ask Governor Kasich to not include these measures in his upcoming state budget.”
ODPS director Tom Charles had asked Governor John Kasich to include the new fee as part of his February 4 budget proposal to be pursued by the General Assembly. State Representative Rex Damschroder, a Republican who chairs the House Transportation, Public Safety, and Homeland Security Committee, indicated the proposed BMV rule would be a non-starter.
“I can’t see it passing,” Damschroder told The Columbus Dispatch on February 1, days before Kasich’s budget is scheduled to be unveiled. “It’s just not good public policy. Some 15-year-old plates are perfectly fine. It’s needless work and needless expense.”
Damschroder indicated that ODPS was no longer planning to push for the new fee. However, the Dispatch reported that an ODPS official contacted for comment said he ”couldn’t provide details on the request, because it was a budget issue.”