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California motorists could see lighter wallets under pending bills

August 20, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Two bills that advanced in the Legislature would increase costs for many California motorists.
Two bills that advanced in the Legislature would increase costs for many… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

Some California motorists would see the government reach deeper into their pockets under two bills approved by state lawmakers this week.

The Senate on Monday approved AB 767, which allows counties to follow the lead of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties and receive authority to double a fee for auto-theft prevention that appears on vehicle registrations. The fee could go from $1 to $2 for non-commercial vehicles and from $2 to $4 for commercial vehicles.

The money is used by counties to fund their programs to “deter, investigate, and prosecute vehicle theft.” The measure would increase law enforcement funding by $19 million annually.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the 25 counties that recovered the most stolen vehicles in 2012 all fund vehicle theft-abatement activities with the surcharge. 

The bill was opposed by the California Taxpayers Assn. “Vehicle-theft prevention programs are important to public safety,” the group wrote to lawmakers. “However, the Legislature should not fund these efforts through a tax disguised as a fee intended to cover the costs of registering a vehicle."

The Senate also approved a bill that would double the maximum base fine, to $100, for motorists ticketed for violating the state’s move-over law. With court fees and other costs, the maximum total penalty would be $489.

The state requires motorists approaching a stationary emergency vehicle or tow truck with emergency lights operating to move over one lane, if it is safe, or reduce speed.

“Emergency responders are still complaining of people not moving over,” Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) told his colleagues before the vote.

AB 902 is by Assemblywoman Beth Gaines (R-Rocklin). Both bills were previously approved by the state Assembly but go back to that house for concurrence in minor amendments.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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