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Senate and House not on same page with Driver Responsibility Fees

Oct 19, 2017

Credit Josh Angehr / Flickr

State lawmakers have hit a roadblock when it comes to forgiving unpaid Driver Responsibility Fees.

The House and Senate have legislation to get rid of the controversial fee, and forgive those who haven’t paid it.

The governor’s administration hasn’t been on board with outright forgiveness for everyone. That’s because even though many people don’t pay their Driver Responsibility Fees, the ones that do added 80 million dollars to the state revenue last year alone.

The House wants to forgive everyone’s debt. But Thursday the Senate passed a bill that would only forgive fees that are six years or older right away. The rest would be phased out over time.

"I think a lot of us as we looked at it a little bit more, a phase out is probably more fiscally responsible than forgiving everything,” explained bill sponsor Senator Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell).

But the Speaker of the House, isn’t convinced. Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) said he’s willing to talk about a compromise, but right now he wants forgiveness for everyone.

“These fears about the budget, one, I don’t believe we should ever allow an unjust fee to patch holes in our budget,” he said.

Despite the current stances, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) is optimistic. He said right now the Senate, House and governor all have different ideas on how to accomplish the same goal.

“They’re in the same book, but they’re not all on the same page yet,” he said. “The effort is to try to relieve people and help them get a license so they can get back to work and we’ll find a right spot to land.”

The Senate also passed its entire bill package relating to Driver Responsibility Fees. That package now goes to the House.