BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                            



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                                    THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 806
          Author:   Price (D)
          Amended:  4/23/13
          Vote:     21


           SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE  :  11-0, 4/30/13  
           AYES:  DeSaulnier, Gaines, Beall, Cannella, Galgiani, Hueso,  
            Lara, Liu, Pavley, Roth, Wyland
           
          SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8  
           

           SUBJECT  :    License plates 

           SOURCE  :     Author


           DIGEST  :    This bill allows the Department of Motor Vehicles  
          (DMV) to conduct a pilot project to test devices that would  
          serve as alternatives to license plates, registration stickers,  
          and registration cards.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law requires DMV to issue to each vehicle  
          upon initial registration two reflectorized license plates or  
          devices to identify the vehicle.  Existing law prescribes the  
          appearance of these plates as follows:

          1.Each plate must display the word "California" plus the  
            vehicle's registration number and the year for which its  
            registration is valid.

          2.Plates, other than those for motorcycles, must be rectangular  
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            in shape, 12 inches in length and 6 inches in width.

          Existing law prohibits DMV from letting a contract to any  
          nongovernmental entity for purposes of manufacturing license  
          plates.

          Since 1959, California law has authorized DMV to issue stickers,  
          tabs, or other suitable devices in lieu of license plates, as  
          prior to 1959, DMV issued vehicles new license plates each year.  
           Since 1959, however, DMV has issued a vehicle license plates  
          when the owner first registered it and then annually provides a  
          sticker (or in the past a metal tab) to show that the owner has  
          renewed the vehicle's registration for the current year.  DMV  
          also provides the vehicle owner with a registration card to show  
          that the vehicle is currently registered.  DMV has never  
          exercised its authority to establish devices in lieu of license  
          plates.

          This bill authorizes DMV to establish a pilot program to  
          evaluate alternatives to vehicle license plates, registration  
          stickers, and registration cards provided that the pilot project  
          meets the following requirements:

          1.The California Highway Patrol approves any alternative to  
            license plates or registration stickers and cards.

          2.An entity other than the state shall provide the alternatives  
            to the license plate and registration cards and stickers at no  
            cost to the state.

          3.No more than half a percent of vehicles registered in the  
            state may participate in the pilot project.  (This equates to  
            about 160,000 vehicles.)

          4.DMV must complete the pilot project by January 1, 2017.

           Background
           
           Purpose  .  The author introduced this bill to facilitate DMV's  
          ability to explore alternatives to California's traditional  
          metal license plate, plastic-coated registration stickers, and  
          paper registration cards.  He believes that exploring these  
          alternatives will result in benefits to California generally and  
          to DMV customers specifically, as the alternatives would improve  

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          efficiency and lower the cost of DMV vehicle registration  
          services.  In particular, wireless-capable devices could reduce  
          DMV processing and mailing expenditures.  Vehicle owners,  
          particularly fleet owners, could eliminate the need to receive  
          physical registration tags from DMV by mail that they then must  
          affix to their vehicles.

           Exploring savings to DMV  .  To register a vehicle, the registered  
          owner must submit proof of insurance, pay registration and other  
          fees, and when required, provide proof that the vehicle passed a  
          smog check inspection.  (Smog checks are typically required  
          every other year for motor vehicles that are at least six years  
          old.)  DMV then issues - typically by mail - a vehicle  
          registration card and the appropriate sticker for the vehicle's  
          rear license plate.

          DMV registers approximately 26 million vehicles per year and  
          collects approximately $3.7 billion in renewal fees.  For annual  
          renewal of a vehicle registration, DMV mails the registered  
          owner a notice and reply envelope approximately 60 days prior to  
          the vehicle's renewal date.  The owner can remit fees and  
          required documentation by mail, via the DMV's Internet Web site,  
          in person at a DMV field office, or at the office of one of  
          DMV's private industry partners, such as the American Automobile  
          Association.  Each year over 10 million renewals take place in  
          DMV field offices.

          This pilot project would allow DMV to try out, for example, a  
          digital electronic plate (see next comment), for which DMV could  
          electronically and directly to the plate issue updated  
          "stickers" and an electronic registration card.

           Digital electronic plates  .  A supporter of this bill is Smart  
          Plate Mobile, a company that holds a patent on a digital  
          electronic license plate, which is essentially a computer screen  
          that can take on the size and appearance of a standard  
          California license plate (i.e., a 12" by 6" white, reflectorized  
          rectangle with blue characters and "California" in red across  
          the top).  This product also allows that screen, once a vehicle  
          comes to a stop for four seconds or longer, to display a  
          different image on the plate such as an advertisement.  This  
          bill does not authorize the display of anything other than the  
          existing California license plate on a screen, but thus far it  
          appears that Smart Plate is the company most interested in  

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          participating in such a pilot project.   Smart Plate has offered  
          to make its product available to DMV to test.

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

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/13/13)

          Bay Area Council
          Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce


          JA:ej  5/14/13   Senate Floor Analyses 

                           SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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