Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2014

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Sun editorial:

Insurance verification

Proposed bill would prevent the DMV from attempting to do its job

Nevada motorists are required to carry automobile insurance, but verifying that information has proven to be a headache for the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Because it can take the department up to 45 days to confirm a lapse in insurance, chances increase that motorists who cause accidents aren’t properly insured.

Now along comes influential lobbyist Richard Perkins, a former speaker of the Assembly, who is pushing legislation that would allow a company he represents to be awarded an exclusive, potentially lucrative state contract to verify motorists’ insurance for the DMV.

As David McGrath Schwartz wrote in a Las Vegas Sun story published Wednesday, the state’s Interim Finance Committee has given the DMV $377,000 to try to develop the technology necessary to verify that drivers are insured.

The legislation pushed by Perkins, Assembly Bill 504, would flush that money down the drain by forcing the DMV to scuttle its ongoing effort to improve verification. Perkins said InsureNet, the Michigan-based business he represents, is the only company with access to a multistate insurance information network that is used by law enforcement agencies to check whether out-of-state drivers have insurance.

But AB504, now before the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, should be killed by the Nevada Legislature.

Nevada Taxpayers Association President Carole Vilardo was right when she told the Sun: “You want legislation written broadly, for the maximum number of bids, so you can evaluate not only the pricing, but the specifications of what you want.”

If just one company is allowed to bid on a project, there is no incentive for that company to come in with a competitively priced bid, and that would end up hurting all taxpayers.

The proper way to proceed is to give the DMV a chance to complete its work and test its technology. If the agency succeeds, there is no need to contract with an outside business. If the DMV fails, then the state should consider hiring a private contractor — but only if there is competitive bidding.

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