House votes on bill to lower late trailer registration fees

The Colorado House drew a line in the sand Friday with the Senate over a measure to lower late registration fees for trailers. As drafted, House Bill 1211 would lower the fees to $10 on trailers that weigh less than 2,000 pounds. Currently, all late registrations can cost up to $100.

Earlier this week, though, the Senate took out the weight provision to make the bill apply to all trailers, something its sponsor, Rep. Max Tyler, D-Golden, said went too far.

Rather than agree to that change or send the measure to a conference committee to iron out differences between the two chambers, Tyler persuaded the House after three consecutive 33-28 votes to adhere to the original bill, a rarely used parliamentary move that leaves the Senate only two options: agree to the House version or kill the idea outright.

Republicans tried to fight off Tyler’s maneuver by forcing two other votes, one to agree to the Senate changes and the other to send the bill to a conference committee. Both attempts failed.

“We may or may not be playing a game of chicken, because if you don’t have the votes ... this bill dies, and who’s left holding the bag? The citizens,” said House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker. “What does it hurt to go talk with our Senate counterparts ... so that we don’t have citizens out on the street paying enormous fines on trailers that they shouldn’t be paying?”

Tyler said he is confident senators will reverse themselves, even though they unanimously voted twice this week to apply the lower fee to all trailers.

Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora and the Senate sponsor of the bill, said she thinks it still can go to a conference committee of three senators and three representatives to work out a compromise.

“The majority in the Senate wants it to be $10 for all trailers,” she said. “I believe I have a choice to go to a conference committee.”

But Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, said Williams is dead wrong if she thinks that third option is available.

“It’s a joint House-Senate rule, which basically means that when one house votes to adhere, the only choice of the other is to adhere or recede,” Rice said. “If they adhere, then the bill dies. If they recede, it passes in the House form. If Senator Williams tries to send it to a conference committee, that motion will be ruled out of order.”

Tyler said the Senate change contradicted a related bill the House approved immediately after his measure. Under House Bill 1212, which now heads to the governor, county clerks would have the authority to waive late fees on all vehicles, including trailers, but only under certain circumstances.

He said there may be times when waiving the late fee is appropriate for heavy trailers, but agreed it was too high for lighter ones, many of which he said aren’t worth much more than the maximum late fee.


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