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House bills to get rid of Driver Responsibility Fees moves to Senate

Nov 3, 2017

Credit Josh Angehr / Flickr

The state House voted Thursday night to get rid of Michigan’s Driver Responsibility Fee, but the bills could hit a roadblock in the state Senate.

The House and Senate both want to get rid of the fees. They were originally enacted to fill a hole in the state budget. Bill sponsor, Representative Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe) called the fees a failed experiment.

“Driver Responsibility Fees do nothing to improve driving habits but do keep families in debt,” he said.

But there’s a big difference between the plans coming from the House and Senate. The House plan would forgive all outstanding Driver Responsibility Fees, but the Senate would only get rid of some older debt and phase out the rest over time.  

The Senate plan originally also called for all debt to be forgiven, but it changed after concerns were raised by the state Treasury. It’s concerned with wiping the slate clean. Treasury spokesperson Ron Leiz said the House plan of immediate forgiveness would take tens of millions of dollars out of the state budget.

“We’re working with the Legislature to find a solution that is fair and addresses the underlying issue while keeping the budget balanced,” he said.

The bills passed in the House with almost unanimous support, with a provision for complete forgiveness.

“Michigan should not balance its budget on the back of drivers,” said bill sponsor Representative Leslie Love (D-Detroit). “The Driver Responsibility Fee was bad from the beginning and we are long overdue in ridding ourselves of this double tax.”