Legislation dealing with vehicle sales regulation morphed Wednesday into a $100 million revenue-raiser.
The Senate Commerce Committee added a $50 increase to the cost of certificates of vehicle title and duplicates to an otherwise largely technical bill.
State Rep. Cameron Henry said the idea is to come up with a stable source of revenue to replace dollars that would be taken out of the Transportation Trust Fund for State Police operations.
“The general goal would be to use this as a vehicle to prevent State Police from having to dip into the Transportation Trust Fund,” said Henry, R-Metairie. He said the current practice “erodes” money badly needed for roads.
With a $12.3 billion backlog of transportation projects, nearly $91 million — roughly equal to 3 cents of the state’s 20-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax — is set to be diverted to State Police and other services.
According to a fiscal analysis, $418 million has been diverted to State Police operations since 2005.
Legislation is moving through the process to phase out the movement of money from the fund for roads and bridges to State Police.
Under House Bill 833, the cost of a certificate of title when vehicles are purchased would increase from $18.50 to $68.50; each permit to sell or duplicate permit to sell a motor vehicle would increase from $15 to $65; and each salvage title would go from $18.50 to $68.50.
State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said the House Appropriations Committee has asked each year for his agency to look at all the services provided in the Office of Motor Vehicles and the costs of providing those services.
What is being proposed is the cost associated with those title services, Edmonson said. The cost of a title when buying a car has not gone up since 1986, he said.
Edmonson said the $50 increase would raise about $100 million based on the 2.4 million cars now and used sold in Louisiana annually.
The increased title fees would be one of the mechanisms that could be used if Transportation Trust Fund dollars earmarked for traffic enforcement are yanked, he said.
“We were looking for a bill to put it on,” Edmonson said.
Henry said the legislation will get a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee before the full Senate considers it. The House also would have to agree to the new revenue-raising addition to the original bill, he said.
“We are early in the process,” Edmonson agreed.
Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter, @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage of the State Capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog.