When Alabama saw a 54% increase on the cost of renewing or obtaining a driver’s license, state legislators were especially unhappy. A little over two weeks later, Senator Bill Holtzclaw had introduced a bill to reduce the costs and provide a credit to residents who had already paid it.
The fee increase makes obtaining a license in Alabama the most expensive of states in its immediate area. Holtzclaw introduced the bill because he believed that the ALEA should have announced the increase when it went into effect. He also stated that legislative oversight was needed for such a dramatic increase, writing on his blog: “I maintain that some fee increase may be warranted but the legislative oversight was missing.”
Implemented by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), the increased fees will result in up to $13 million of additional annual revenue.
It is estimated that there are 200 million licensed drivers in the United States as of May 2014, and 79,000 licenses were issued in Alabama in the first month since the fee was raised. The ALEA is protesting Holtzclaw’s legislation, citing past cases from 2009 and 2000 in which it was allowed to collect licensing fees. The ALEA also suggests that the licensing fee increase is what allows them to enforce state law, and that lowering the fee will decrease the number of state troopers able to patrol Alabama highways.
“We realize that some fee increase may be warranted and the administrative procedures process will ensure that justification occurs in an open public setting where the people of Alabama will be represented,” Holtzclaw told AL.com, explaining that the ALEA’s methods of fee increase were more troublesome than the increase itself.
Holtzclaw’s bill is currently being reviewed by the Transportation and Energy Committee. Should it pass, it will go before the state Senate for a vote.