BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 244
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          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
          AB 244 (Bonilla)
          As Amended  August 12, 2013
          Majority vote
           
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          |ASSEMBLY:  |78-0 |(May 28, 2013)  |SENATE: |38-0 |(September 3,  |
          |           |     |                |        |     |2013)          |
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           Original Committee Reference:    TRANS  .  

           SUMMARY  :  Requires the California Department of Veterans Affairs  
          (DVA) to sponsor a veterans' special interest license plate and  
          requires the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to  
          issue the veterans' plate if DVA meets the current statutory  
          requirements.  Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Requires DVA to sponsor a veterans' special interest license  
            plate and requires DMV to issue the veterans' plate if DVA  
            meets the current statutory requirements for the special  
            license plate program.  

          2)Requires that the design of the veterans' special interest  
            license plate be identical to the design of the veterans'  
            plate previously issued before January 1, 2010.  

          3)Mandates that revenue derived from the additional fees be  
            deposited, after DMV deducts its administrative costs, in the  
            California Veterans Service Office (CVSO) Funds.  

           The Senate amendments  :

          1)Require that the decals for the veterans' specialized license  
            plate be identical to those currently provided by law.   

           2)Specifies fees to be paid by individuals applying for the  
            veterans' special interest license plate or decal.   
           
           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee:  

          1)DVA costs of approximately $45,000 for one-half personnel year  
            of staff time in 2014-15 to collect the initial 7,500  
            applications and fees for the establishment of the plate  








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            program (General Fund).  These costs could continue into  
            2015-16 if the requisite applications and fees are not  
            collected within the first year.  

          2)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.  

          3)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.  

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

           COMMENTS  :  Prior to 2007, any new special interest license plate  
          required specific legislative authorization.  That practice was  
          held to be unconstitutional by the federal courts in that the  
          Legislature approved some of the plates and rejected others,  
          while using no standardized or objective criteria for those  
          decisions.  In response to the court decision, AB 84 (Leslie),  
          Chapter 454, Statutes of 2006, established the current special  
          interest license plate program to provide a forum for government  
          speech that promotes California's state policies.  AB 84  
          excludes private organizations from seeking special interest  
          license plates as a forum for private speech, and thus addresses  
          the court's objection.  Plates now created and the revenue they  
          generate must publicize or promote a state agency, or the  
          official policy, mission, or work of a state agency.   
          Furthermore, the process requires that at least 7,500 paid  
          applications must be received by the state agency prior to  
          notifying DMV.  The 7,500-application threshold was previously  
          put into statute for special interest license plates and was  
          arrived at in an attempt to assure that DMV's startup costs  
          would be fully covered by the portion of the registration fee  
          surcharge that is directed to DMV and to avoid a proliferation  
          of different types of plates, which can be troublesome from a  








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          law enforcement perspective.  

          The author contends that prior to 2010, DMV only offered a  
          "veterans" special interest license plate which could be  
          purchased by persons who serve or previously served in our  
          nation's armed forces.  In actuality, the plates were not  
          exclusive for "veterans-only" as the purchasers of the plates at  
          that time were not limited solely to veterans.  In 2010, in  
          order to garner more widespread appeal and license plate  
          acquisition, legislation was enacted that established an  
          "honoring veterans" license plate, replacing the "veterans-only"  
          plate.  Subsequently, since this change, veterans and veterans  
          groups have been asking for the return of the "veterans-only"  
          plate so they can be specifically identified as veterans who  
          have served their country.  This is especially significant for  
          veterans returning from current wars.  

          This bill strives to reestablish the veterans' special interest  
          license plate that was previously issued several years ago.   
          Further, the bill would direct monies generated from the  
          additional license plate fees to be deposited in the CVSO Fund.   


          Veterans groups support this bill that will allow veterans to  
          again be specifically identified in a special interest license  
          plate.  Further, they support the bill's provisions that could  
          eventually increase funding to CVSOs that help veterans gain  
          access to benefits that they have deservedly earned through  
          their military service.  

          Writing in support of this bill, the California Mental Health  
          Directors Association indicates that this bill will generate  
          additional resources to support the valuable local services that  
          CVSOs provide to veterans and their families in terms of free  
          claims assistance, referrals to programs for which veterans may  
          be eligible, and partnering with county mental health  
          departments for veterans assistance with mental health and  
          substance abuse disorders.  

           
          Analysis Prepared by  :   Victoria Alvarez / TRANS. / (916)  
          319-2093  


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