2-year registration bill advances, with late fee

Motorists would have the option of registering their vehicles for two years, but they won’t see late fees waived if they do.

Rep. Steve King tried to keep that exemption in a bill that won preliminary approval in the Colorado House on Tuesday. The Grand Junction Republican hoped to use the exemption as an incentive to get people to opt for registering their automobiles for two years rather than the usual one.

But opponents said it was a back-door attempt at getting rid of the controversial late fee.

“If we’re going to have a bill that deals with the late fee, we ought to come out and just say it,” said Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, who introduced an amendment to take that provision out of King’s House Bill 1268. “Let’s not try to obfuscate the fact that what we’re doing here is creating a loophole that would allow people to basically never have to pay a late fee again.”

King, however, said he only was trying to offer motorists an incentive to use the two-year option. Motorists benefit from not having to return each year, and the state can get additional money up front, earning interest on it in the process, he said.

Currently, motorists who register their vehicles after their tags have expired pay a $25-a-month late fee, capped at $100.

King offered a substitute amendment to lower the maximum late fee to $50 for those who use the two-year option, but that effort failed.

“What we’re trying to do is make it more consumer friendly ... to not have to take time off your job to go in and reregister your car,” King said. “It is a way of enticing the consumer. There was no attempt to hide anything. It was just trying to give as much benefit to our taxpayers as we can.”

A legislative fiscal analysis of King’s bill showed it would cost the state about $434,000 a year in lost revenue from the late-fee exemption. Overall, though, the bill would earn the state a one-time increase of nearly $12 million during the first year the two-year option is used.

The bill requires a final House vote, which could come as early as today, before it can head to the Senate for more debate.


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