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SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers expressed concerns about "sticker shock" as they moved forward with a measure to increase fees for a driver's license.
HB388, sponsored by Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, would raise license renewal fees for cars from $25 to $35, as well as increase the cost for motorcycle licenses from $9.50 to $12. The bill would also raise learner permit fees from $15 to $20, among several other fee increases.
After an hourlong discussion, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted in favor of moving the bill forward.
Hutchings said the increases in fees would help cover the administrative costs for operating licensing departments.
The process for raising fees had been done in periodic increments of about 10 years, he said, and the changes reflect inflating costs. The funding would generally have a surplus for the first five years of a 10-year period, and then the cost to maintain licensing operations would start to outweigh the funding, Hutchings said.
"We have gotten really creative over the years to try and manage this cost," he said, citing mobile offices and part-time offices to handle licensing in remote areas.
Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, shared concerns expressed by other committee members about the cost, saying fee increases would be tough on consumers.
"If we were able to look at five years and $5 instead of $10, that would probably be a lot easier to swallow, but I am willing to look at moving forward at this point," Stanard said.
Rep. Jefferson Moss, R-Saratoga Springs, echoed the concerns about costs and asked whether measures were taken to mitigate costs before opting to raise fees.
Chris Caras, director of the Utah Driver License Division, said the division worked on reducing wait times to get a driver's license.
That is part of why we are asking for the funds we are asking for. We do not want to let our service level slip.
–Chris Caras, Utah Drivers License Division
"That is part of why we are asking for the funds we are asking for. We do not want to let our service level slip," Caras said.
Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber City, offered his reluctant support for the measure.
"If we would spend this much time and this much in-depth conversation and questioning every time we tried to spend $10 million of our citizens' money, we would be in a better position as a state," Quinn said.
The bill will continue to the House floor for further consideration. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org