Las Vegas Sun

April 21, 2014

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Lawmakers passionate about vehicle registration

Assembly bill seeks to raise fine from $250 to $1,000

The great white whale for many legislators this session: motorists who move to Nevada but never register their cars with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

The state has higher vehicle registration fees than many other states, and some people — the number is hard to quantify — move here but continue to keep their cars registered in their previous states.

On Monday Assembly Bill 291 was heard by the Senate Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee. It would increase the fine for not registering a vehicle from $250 to $1,000.

Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, said people try to skate by without registering their vehicles in Nevada, and the threat of a $250 fine is not enough.

The bill would allow the $1,000 fine to be reduced to $200 if the offender registers the vehicle.

Still, Schneider worried that provision wasn’t enough.

“If car registration costs $1,000 and you get by for two years, you’re going to save $1,800,” he said.

Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, suggested making the fine double the cost of registering the car.

“There are six cars on my street, and they’re still not registering their cars, no matter what I tell them,” he said.

Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, D-Henderson, the sponsor of the bill, said increasing vehicle registrations 5 percent could yield $16.5 million a year.

“The state is struggling,” she said. “People lived across from me for four years and never registered their cars. It’s one of those things that just angers me.”

•••

The financial beating local governments have been taking at the Legislature continued Monday. A legislative budget subcommittee voted to take away $50 million in indigent accident funds that normally would go to county hospitals, including Clark County’s public University Medical Center.

Jeff Fontaine, executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties, said University Medical Center alone will lose $40 million in the next 2 1/2 years as a result of the actions by the Senate Finance and the Assembly Ways and Means committees.

Fontaine said the state, which is taking the money to increase funding for Medicaid, is instead using it “to replace a hole in the general fund budget.”

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said lawmakers will talk to the counties about alleviating the shortfall.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said legislators “are going to have to find some way to alleviate the loss to local governments.”

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