Lawmakers will try to roll back fee increases
By Bill Cotterell • Florida Capital Bureau • September 16, 2009
TALLAHASSEE — A group of 15 Democrats in the Florida House will try to roll back the flood of fee increases and higher license charges that angered drivers across the state last month.
So will three Republicans.
But, as if to underscore the partisan divide in the Legislature, House members are pursuing that goal with two separate but identical bills. With Republicans controlling the House and Senate, as well as the governor’s office, the GOP version of the repeal stands a better chance in the 2010 legislative session.
That probably won’t matter too much for frustrated drivers, who jammed tag offices and other licensing facilities so much last month — trying to beat the Sept. 1 deadline for the higher fees — that the state’s computers slowed to a crawl.
"I voted against these fee hikes because they are a tax on anyone who drives," said Rep. Alan Williams D-Tallahassee. "These fee hikes will burden families and small businesses the hardest and they are the wrong way to raise revenues during a recession."
Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West, the incoming House minority leader, was the main sponsor of the Democratic version of the repealer, HB 99, filed last week. It was a carbon copy of HB 77, which Rep. Robert Schenck, R-Springhill, authored with two GOP cosponsors on Aug. 19.
Both bills would return the fee schedule to its pre-Sept. 1 rates. How the state makes up lost revenue would be figured into the state budget negotiated by the House and Senate appropriations committees and governor’s office, if either of the bills passes next year.
Initial registration of a vehicle rose from $100 to $225, Williams said, and the cost of renewing a driving license doubled to $48. A complete list of fee hikes can be found at http://www.flhsmv.gov/DHSMVFees.htm.