Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lawmakers Continue Efforts to Pass Car Tag Reform Legislation

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lawmakers Continue Efforts to Pass Car Tag Reform Legislation

Article excerpt

Republican lawmakers say that real car tag reform is in jeopardy for the 2000 legislative session, but Democratic leaders say they are working on a measure to put some equity into Oklahoma's costly vehicle licensure system.

At this point in the session, House Bill 2189, by House Speaker Loyd Benson, D-Frederick, and Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor, D-Claremore, is an empty "shell" bill, but Benson says a true car tag reform measure is in the works. It may be ready for consideration by the middle of April.

In addition to the leadership shell, two substantive car tag measures have been floating between the House and Senate all session. They feature the same stair-stepped approach to tag fees: $85 for cars up to five years old; $45 from six to 10 years and $15 for older autos.

Under the current system, the tag on a new or late-model used car can cost hundreds of dollars. Tag fees do not fall to the $20 level until after the 20th year of registration.

Where the two bills differ is in how they tax vehicles when they change hands.

House Bill 2663, a Democratic measure authored by Rep. Ron Kirby, D-Lawton, and Sen. Jim Maddox, D-Lawton, calls for exchanging the current 3.25 vehicle excise tax, levied on the factory delivered price, for a 4.5 percent sales tax on the actual sales price of a car, accounting for trade-ins and discounts.

This is similar to language that Gov. Frank Keating vetoed in a Kirby bill last year. Keating said that the higher tax percentage essentially wiped out any tag savings on vehicle purchases, and weighed most heavily those who buy used cars without a trade-in.

Democratic leaders said at the time that the tax change was necessary to make the bill revenue-neutral overall. Without it, they said, House Bill 1734 measure would have cut a $128 million hole in the state budget.

This year's Democratic car tag bill would net vehicle owners about $11 million.

On Friday, Maddox released data comparing the costs of different vehicles of varying ages under current law and House Bill 2663:

* New vehicle, $25,000, trade-in $7,500, actual sales prices $22,500: Tag and tax $1,134 first year under current law, $760 under House Bill 2663. Total six-year cost under current law: $2,338; under House Bill 2663: $1,145.

* Used vehicle, four years old, sales price $9,000, trade-in $2,500: tag and tax $315 first year under current law, $355 under House Bill 2663. Total six-year cost under current law: $903; under House Bill 2663: $580.

* Used vehicle, 10 years old, sales price $1,500, no trade-in: Tag and tax $67 first year under current law, $38 under House Bill 2663. Total four-year cost under current law: $232; under House Bill 2663: $83.

House Bill 2702, the GOP measure backed by Keating and authored by Rep. Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, and Senate Minority Floor Leader Mark Snyder, R-Edmond, contains the same $85/$45/$15 flat tag-fee schedule, but retains the 3. …

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