BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



                                                                            



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                                    THIRD READING


          Bill No:  AB 244
          Author:   Bonilla (D)
          Amended:  8/12/13 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE  :  7-0, 6/25/13
          AYES:  Hueso, Knight, Block, Correa, Lieu, Nielsen, Roth

           SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE  :  11-0, 7/2/13
          AYES:  DeSaulnier, Gaines, Beall, Cannella, Galgiani, Hueso,  
            Lara, Liu, Pavley, Roth, Wyland

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  7-0, 8/19/13
          AYES:  De León, Walters, Gaines, Hill, Lara, Padilla, Steinberg

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  78-0, 5/28/13 - See last page for vote


           SUBJECT  :    Vehicles:  license plates:  veterans

           SOURCE  :     American Legion Department of California
                      Amvets Department of California
                      California Association of County Veterans Services  
          Officers
                      California State Commanders Veterans Council
                      Veterans of Foreign Wars  Department of California
                      Vietnam Veterans of America  California State  
          Council


           DIGEST  :    This bill requires the California Department of  
          Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to sponsor a veterans' special  
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          interest license plate and requires the California Department of  
          Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue the veterans' plate if CalVet  
          meets the current statutory requirements.

           ANALYSIS  :    

          Existing law:

          1.Authorizes a state agency to apply to DMV to sponsor a special  
            interest license plate program and requires DMV to issue the  
            special interest license plates for the program if the state  
            agency complies with specified requirements.

          2.Establishes special interest license plate procedures for  
            veteran organizations and allows a veterans' organization to  
            apply for a veterans' special interest license plate, the  
            proceeds of which are deposited into the Veterans Service  
            Office Fund (CVSO Fund) to fund the efforts of country  
            veterans service officers (CVSOs). Individual applicants for  
            the plates pay fees for issuance, renewal, or personalization  
            that is additional to those required for nonspecialized  
            plates.

          3.Requires moneys in the CVSO Fund, upon appropriation by the  
            Legislature, to be available to CalVet for allocation and  
            disbursement to counties for the operation of CVSOs.

          4.Allows CalVet to modify the distinctive design or decal for  
            veterans' organization special interest license plates,  
            consistent with existing statutory design criteria.

          This bill:

          1.Directs CalVet to apply to DMV to sponsor a veterans  
            specialized license plate program, and DMV will issue license  
            plates for that program if CalVet meets the requirements  
            prescribed in statute for all specialized plate applicants.

          2.Specifies that the design of the veterans specialized license  
            plate be identical to the design of the veterans special  
            interest license plate issued pursuant to Vehicle Code Section  
            5068, on or prior to January 1, 2010.

          3.Requires that revenue derived from the additional fees  

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            prescribed by Vehicle Code Section 5157 for the issuance,  
            renewal, or transfer of the veterans specialized license  
            plates to be deposited, after DMV deducts its administrative  
            costs, in the CVSO Fund, created by Section 972.2 of the  
            Military and Veterans Code.

           Background
          
           Special interest license plates  .  California has a special  
          interest license plate program under which vehicle owners can  
          purchase license plates exhibiting special designs or messages.   
          These plates are sold at higher prices than ordinary license  
          plates. The program's primary purpose is to produce additional  
          revenue for the state by making special license plates available  
          for purchase at higher prices than regular license plates.

          Prior to 2010, the DMV offered a specialty license plate only  
          for veterans with the word "Veteran" printed on it.  AB 1908  
          (Cook, 2010) transitioned the old veterans license plate to a  
          new "Honoring Veterans" license plate.  The change was made to  
          broaden the pool of eligible buyers and boost revenues.  The  
          "Honoring Veterans" plate can be purchased by any member of the  
          public, who wishes to support veterans.  The change had the  
          unintended effect of denying veterans a license plate, which  
          specifically identifies them as veterans.  Veterans and veterans  
          organizations have been asking for reestablishment of a  
          veterans-only plate since AB 1908 went into effect.

           CVSOs/Veterans Service Office Fund  .  Established in 1991 by AB  
          3033 (Conroy), this fund is used by the DMV to deposit fees,  
          minus the administrative costs, transferred from the Motor  
          Vehicle Account for the sale of specialized veterans license  
          plates. The money in the fund is used to support CVSO  
          operations. These funds are shared by counties based upon a  
          percentage of budgeted expenditures.

          CVSOs are trained, accredited professionals who help veterans  
          and their families navigate the complex federal VA benefit  
          application processes. The CVSOs assist in claims initiation and  
          development and draw down significant federal dollars annually.

          CVSO funding is derived from a combination of local and state  
          resources - with an understanding that it would be split 50/50  
          between the state and local governments. However, during the  

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          past decade the state has funded less than half of the program.  
          As a result, a key veterans' resource is weakened and the state  
          loses an opportunity to draw down more federal dollars - perhaps  
          as much as $400 million more than it has been.

          Currently, the counties provide about 85% of the money to fund  
          the CVSOs.  The other 15% ($2.6 million) is provided by the  
          state. This "Local Assistance" allocation has remained roughly  
          the same for 18 years and is inadequate to properly fund the  
          CVSOs.

          The CVSO program is a joint effort of state and local  
          government. Counties pay 50% of the cost of their CVSOs. At the  
          time this arrangement was established, 50% was $5 million. Now  
          that percentage equals $11 million.

           Prior Legislation
           
          AB 1550 (Bonilla, Chapter 398, Statutes of 2012) increased the  
          fees required to issue, renew, and personalize veterans' license  
          plates as follows: $50 for issuance (from $30), $78 for  
          personalization (from $40), and $40 for renewal (from $30). The  
          fees for the veteran plate had not been updated since 1992; this  
          bill brought the veterans plate fee into line with DMV's other  
          specialized plates.

          AB 1908 (Cook, Chapter 166, Statutes of 2010) authorized CalVet  
          to modify the distinctive designs of veterans' plates (created  
          the "honoring veterans" special interest license plate) and the  
          associated decals, but prohibited DMV from issuing the new  
          plates or decals until it has issued all existing inventories of  
          plates and decals.

          AB 84 (Leslie, Chapter 454, Statutes of 2006), excluded private  
          organizations from seeking special interest license plates as a  
          forum for private speech.  Clarified that the revenue they  
          generate must publicize or promote a state agency, or the  
          official policy, mission, or work of a state agency.  The  
          process requires that at least 7,500 paid applications be  
          received by the state agency prior to notifying DMV.

          AB 3033 (Conroy, Chapter 1275, Statutes of 1992) established the  
          special interest license plate program for veterans.


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           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

           CalVet costs of approximately $45,000 for 1/2 PY of staff time  
            in 2014-15 to collect the initial 7,500 applications and fees  
            for the establishment of the plate program (General Fund).   
            These costs could continue into 2015-16 if the requisite  
            applications and fees are not collected within the first year.

           DMV implementation costs of approximately $470,000, likely in  
            2015-16, partially offset by pre-paid application fees of  
            $375,000, leaving a net cost of approximately $95,000 (Motor  
            Vehicle Account).  These net costs would be reimbursed in the  
            following fiscal year by registration renewal fees from  
            holders of the veterans plates.  All ongoing costs thereafter  
            would be fully offset by fees from renewals and issuance of  
            new veterans plates.

           Unknown revenues, likely in the range of $150,000 to $250,000  
            annually, for deposit into the Veterans Service Office Fund  
            (based on 7,500 plates after subtracting DMV administrative  
            costs).  These funds are distributed to county veterans  
            service offices.

           Unknown, likely relatively minor revenue gains, to the extent  
            that applicants wish to have personalized "environmental"  
            plates (Environmental License Plate Fund).

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  8/19/13)

          American Legion Department of California (co-source) 
          Amvets Department of California (co-source)
          California Association of County Veterans Services Officers  
          (co-source)
          California State Commanders Veterans Council (co-source)
          Veterans of Foreign Wars - Department of California (co-source)
          Vietnam Veterans of America - California State Council  
          (co-source)
          California Mental Health Directors Association
          Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors
          Rural County Representatives of California 


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           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  78-0, 5/28/13
          AYES:  Achadjian, Alejo, Allen, Ammiano, Atkins, Bigelow, Bloom,  
            Blumenfield, Bocanegra, Bonilla, Bonta, Bradford, Brown,  
            Buchanan, Ian Calderon, Campos, Chau, Chávez, Chesbro, Conway,  
            Cooley, Dahle, Daly, Dickinson, Donnelly, Eggman, Fong, Fox,  
            Frazier, Beth Gaines, Garcia, Gatto, Gomez, Gonzalez, Gordon,  
            Gorell, Gray, Grove, Hagman, Hall, Harkey, Roger Hernández,  
            Jones, Jones-Sawyer, Levine, Linder, Logue, Lowenthal,  
            Maienschein, Mansoor, Medina, Melendez, Mitchell, Morrell,  
            Mullin, Muratsuchi, Nazarian, Nestande, Olsen, Pan, Patterson,  
            Perea, V. Manuel Pérez, Quirk, Quirk-Silva, Rendon, Salas,  
            Skinner, Stone, Ting, Wagner, Waldron, Weber, Wieckowski,  
            Wilk, Williams, Yamada, John A. Pérez
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Holden, Vacancy


          AL:nl  8/20/13   Senate Floor Analyses 

                           SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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