04/08/19 -- HB 584 -- Increases fees charged by Department of Revenue contractor license offices
HB 584, introduced by Representative Jeff Knight (Republican - District 129) increases fees charged by the Department of Revenue contractor license offices. It is a widely held belief that DOR license offices (which are private companies that bid for the right to run an office) are in desperate need of new revenue. Proponents of this bill argue that by increasing the fees that these offices are allowed to charge the public, we will prevent more license offices from closing down when no one bids to run them (ostensibly due to the low profit margins).
I am not sympathetic to this argument. While there are Constitutional complications associated with making major changes to the fee structure and disposition, if it is determined that these license offices really need more revenue, the State should simply take a smaller cut of the existing fee to make room for the increase - we should not increase fees charged to the public. Additionally, I am not convinced that there is a need for additional revenue by these license offices at all -- the ones located in more populated areas take in large sums of money on a regular basis. The ones that struggle are the ones in more rural areas that simply don't have as many customers.
While it is unfortunate that people in rural areas might have to drive a bit further to a different office if the on in their area closes, the solution isn't to raise fees for everyone statewide. There are many ways we could possibly make things better for these rural residents (expand online license renewals, develop kiosks, etc - both of which are subjects of another bill we heard this year). Raising fees should always be a last resort, and I'm not convinced we are at that point.