BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






           SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE       BILL NO: ab 244
          SENATOR MARK DESAULNIER, CHAIRMAN              AUTHOR:  bonilla
                                                         VERSION: 4/24/13
          Analysis by:  Carrie Cornwell                  FISCAL:  yes
          Hearing date:  July 2, 2013



          SUBJECT:

          Veterans license plates

          DESCRIPTION:

          This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to apply to  
          the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue license plates in  
          support of U.S. military veterans.

          ANALYSIS:

          Existing law requires that, in order to register a vehicle in  
          California, the registered owner pay a registration fee of $46,  
          a $23 surcharge for additional personnel for the California  
          Highway Patrol, various locally-imposed fees, and a vehicle  
          license fee (VLF) equal to 0.65% of a vehicle's value based on  
          purchase price depreciated according to a statutory schedule.  

          The Veterans License Plate

          In addition, any registered owner of a vehicle may apply to the  
          Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a veterans license plate  
          for his or her vehicle.  Veterans plates bear a distinctive  
          design that includes the words "Honoring Veterans" 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.  Prior to 2010, this plate read "Veteran",  
          rather than "Honoring Veterans" along the bottom.

          In addition to the above fees, for veterans plates a vehicle  
          owner must pay $50 for the initial issuance of the plates and  
          decals; $78 to personalize the plates (for all other plates the  
          costs of personalization is $98); and $40 annually for each  
          renewal that includes continued display of the plates (whether  
          personalized or not) and decals.





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          After paying DMV's costs associated with veterans plates,  
          revenues derived from these fees go to county veterans service  
          offices. 

          State Agency Plates

          In addition, any state agency, including the Department of  
          Veterans Affairs, may sponsor a special interest license plate,  
          pursuant to AB 84 (Leslie), Chapter 454, Statutes of 2006.   
          Under 
          AB 84, (DMV) may issue new special interest license plates only  
          on behalf of state agencies provided that for each state agency:

           The license plate has "a design or contains a message that  
            publicizes or promotes a state agency, or the official policy,  
            mission, or work of a state agency."  The design shall also be  
            confined to the left of and below the numerical series (i.e.,  
            no full plate designs allowed).

           The state agency submits 7,500 applications and accompanying  
            fees to DMV for the license plate.  The state agency has 12  
            months to collect these applications and fees, but it can  
            extend that to a maximum of 24 months if it notifies and  
            offers to refund fees to those that applied during the first  
            12 months.  Once a plate is issued, DMV stops issuing that  
            plate for the agency if the number of plates drops below  
            7,500.

          In addition to the usual registration and license fees, DMV  
          charges the following additional fees for specialized license  
          plates:  $50 for the initial issuance, $40 for annual renewal,  
          and $98 to personalize.  DMV deducts its administrative costs  
          from the revenues generated.  The net revenues derived from a  
          specialized license plate is then available upon appropriation  
          for the sponsoring state agency to expend exclusively on  
          projects and programs that promote the state agency's official  
          policy, mission, or work.

          A sponsoring state agency may not spend more that 25 percent of  
          its license plate funds for administrative, marketing, and  
          promotional costs associated with the plate, and it must submit  
          an annual accounting report to DMV.

           This bill  :
          
          1.Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to apply to DMV to  




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            establish a plate pursuant to AB 84 that shall read "Veteran"  
            along the bottom of the plate and include a decal on the left  
            side of the plate for one of over 100 sponsoring veterans'  
            organizations under the existing veterans plate, such as the  
            American Legion, 101st Airborne Division, or the National  
            Guard.

          2.Directs the revenues derived from this license plate, after  
            paying DMV's costs, to county veterans service offices. 
          
          COMMENTS:

           1.Purpose  .  The author notes that from 1993 until 2010, the DMV  
            only offered a "Veterans" specialty license plate.  She  
            introduced this bill because when the state changed the  
            message of the veterans plate to "Honoring Veterans," veterans  
            could no longer purchase a license plate that appears to  
            identify them as veterans.  Ever since this change occurred,  
            veterans and veterans groups have been asking for a return of  
            the old veterans plate design.  This bill directs the  
            Department of Veterans Affairs to reestablish the "veterans"  
            plate. 

            If this bill is signed into law, both the "Honoring Veterans"  
            and "Veterans" plate could be available.  Revenues from both  
            plate sales will fund the county veteran service offices.  The  
            new plate will help increase funding to these offices to  
            ensure that veterans have access to their guaranteed benefits.

           2.History  .   AB 3033 (Conroy), Chapter 1275, Statutes of 1992,  
            originally created the veterans plate, and subsequent  
            legislation resulted in a license plate that read "Veteran"  
            across the bottom and offered the over 100 different decals to  
            place in the space to the left of the numerical series.  

            In 2011, pursuant to direction contained in AB 1908 (Cook),  
            Chapter 166, Statutes of 2010, DMV issued a new design of the  
            veterans plate that changed the words along the bottom of the  
            plate from "Veteran" to "Honoring Veterans" and thus broadened  
            the appeal of this license plate.  In addition, in May 2011  
            DMV made the veterans plate available on its web site.  In  
            less than two years, and likely as a result of these two  
            changes, the total number of veterans plates issued increased  
            to 30,141 - an increase of over 6,000.  

           3.Not limited to veterans  .  Neither the existing "Honoring  




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            Veterans" plate, nor the license plate that this bill directs  
            the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish, is restricted  
            to veterans of military service.  Any vehicle owners may,  
            simply by paying the extra fees, receive a so-called veterans  
            plate.  The premise of this license plate is not the  
            recognition of veterans but support for veterans and of the  
            county offices that provide services to them.

           4.Technical amendments  . 

                 On page 5, line 15, delete "Notwithstanding Section  
               5155, the" and insert "The"
                 On page 5, line 18, delete the period and insert:  ",  
               but notwithstanding Section 5155 the decals shall be  
               identical to those offered pursuant to Section 5068."

           1.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 25 by a 7 to 0 vote.   
           
          Assembly Votes:

               Floor:     78-0
               Appr:  17-0
               VA:      7-0
               Trans:     16-0

          POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on  
          Wednesday,                                             June 26,  
          2013.)

               SUPPORT:  American Legion
                         AMVETS - Department of California
                         California Association of County Veterans Service  
          Officers
                         California Mental Health Directors Association
                         California State Commanders Veterans Council
                         Contra Costa County of Board of Supervisors
                         Rural County Representatives of California
                         VFW, Department of California
                         Vietnam Veterans of America - California State  
          Council

               OPPOSED:  None received.





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