BILL ANALYSIS SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE BILL NO: AB 1908 SENATOR ALAN LOWENTHAL, CHAIRMAN AUTHOR: cook VERSION: 3/11/10 Analysis by: Carrie Cornwell FISCAL: yes Hearing date: June 29, 2010 SUBJECT: Veterans plates DESCRIPTION: This bill allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to redesign the veterans' organizations license plates. ANALYSIS: Existing law requires that in order to register a vehicle in California, the registered owner pay a registration fee of $34, a $22 surcharge for additional personnel for the California Highway Patrol, various locally-imposed fees, and a vehicle license fee (VLF) equal to 1.15% of a vehicle's value based on purchase price depreciated according to a statutory schedule. In addition, any registered owner of a vehicle may apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for veterans' organization license plates for his or her vehicle. Veterans plates bear a distinctive design that includes the word "veteran" along the bottom of the plate and includes a decal on the left side of the plate for one of over 100 sponsoring veterans' organizations, such as the American Legion, 101st Airborne Division, or the National Guard. In addition to the above fees, for veterans plates a vehicle owner must pay: $30 for the initial issuance of the plates and decals; $30 annually for each renewal that includes continued display of the plates and decals; $35 to replace the plates if they become damaged; $10 to replace the decals if they become damaged; and $40 to personalize the plates; AB 1908 (COOK) Page 2 Revenues derived from these fees go, after paying DMV's costs associated with veterans plates, to county veterans service offices, except for revenues from the $10-fee for replacement decals, which is divided between county veteran service officers and the California Environmental License Plate Fund (ELP Fund). The ELP Fund is used to support various state environmental programs and agencies. This bill : 1.Permits the Department of Veterans Affairs to modify the distinctive designs of veterans plates and the associated decals but prohibits DMV from issuing the new plates or decals until it has issued all existing inventories of plates and decals. 2.Requires DMV, by July 1, 2011, to provide a link on its website through which vehicle owners can order veterans plates. 3.Redirects from the ELP Fund to county veterans service officers the half of revenues from the $10-charge to replace a damaged veterans' organization decal. COMMENTS: 1.Purpose . The author introduced this bill to increase revenues derived from veterans' organizations license plates and to increase funds available for county veteran service officers. According to the author, this bill will help the California Department of Veterans Affairs and others to better market veterans' organization license plates, because modifying the plate and decal designs will make the plate more appealing. In addition, having DMV make the plate available for on-line ordering will stimulate sales. The resulting revenue increase would enable county veteran services officers to expand their operations of providing veterans and their families free claims assistance and referral to local, state, and federal programs. The author's office also indicates that elimination of the 50-50 split of fee proceeds from replacement decals recognizes the fact that the veterans license plate is intended to benefit veterans AB 1908 (COOK) Page 3 programs, rather than environmental programs. 2.Additional revenues . Initially authorized in 1991, the ELP Fund provides funding that is used to support a variety of state activities that have some environmental connection. Examples of the entities that receive this funding include the Resources Secretary, Department of Forestry, Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife Conservation Board, Department of Parks and Recreation, and various conservancies. According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, redirecting the half of the revenues from replacement of veterans plate decals to veterans programs rather than the ELP Fund will increase funding for those programs by about $6,000 per year. 3.Committee of second referral . The Rules Committee referred this bill to the Veterans Affairs Committee and to the Transportation and Housing Committee. This bill passed that committee on June 22 by a 4 to 0 vote. Assembly Votes: Floor: 76 - 0 Appr: 17 - 0 V.A. 9 - 0 Trans: 14 - 0 POSITIONS: (Communicated to the Committee before noon on Wednesday, June 23, 2010) SUPPORT: California Association of County Veterans Services Officers (sponsor) AMVETS American Legion California Mental Health Directors Association California State Commanders Veterans Council Vietnam Veterans of America OPPOSED: None received.