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April 2002 Rant

"What Happened to HB 280?"

When the General Assembly began meeting for the 2002 session I made a statement that HB 280 was my favorite bill but that it would, again, not even make it out of committee. It did not make it out of committee; it was tabled (a nice word for killed) 22 to zip.

HB 280 would provide for only one license plate per vehicle. In these tough economic times the state would be able to cut its costs for plates roughly in half. Motorcycles, trailers and a few others are exceptions to the two-plate rule. This cost saving was needed this year.

A fiscal impact statement is prepared for each bill that will cost or save money. An impact statement for 280 was prepared. The cost savings for having one plate would be $1.6 million dollars per year for the next 3 to 4 years. A cost savings of $269,000 per year for having to print just one decal per vehicle would also be for the next 3 to 4 years. That’s a total of $1.9 million dollars per year for the next 3 to 4 years or nearly $8 million dollars saved. The impact statement went further than just giving the cost savings for this measure. Here’s the statement that was included: “In addition the issues related above, the Department of State Police and local law enforcement agencies may have policy concerns with this legislation.” The impact statement was also sent to the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Public Safety.

The House Transportation Committee tabled HB 280 due to enormous outpouring of opposition from the State Police and local law-enforcement groups. At least that is what the legislative aide to the bill’s sponsor says. Delegate Louderback, a Republican from Luray, sponsored this measure. He promises to bring it back again next year and hopes that it will get to the House floor.

Those police officials that fought against this bill said that removing the front license plate would hinder them from doing their duties. Maybe the State Police and the other local police groups that are against this measure can come up with a way to raise $8 million. Perhaps they cannot.

Remember a couple of years ago when the State Police needed aircraft to enforce the speed limit on certain Interstate highways? Their arguments were that other states did it and the tremendous numbers of speeders on the interstates need to be caught. Of course it was expensive to pay people to fly airplanes and helicopters and also expensive to buy and maintain aircraft. But the police got their way and now we have signs stating that radar is in use by aircraft (the signs also cost money).

How is the air radar that the police needed doing? Last year 0.2% of all tickets were issued due to the air radar. That’s 1 ticket out of every 500. 1,673 out of 733,441 tickets issued were air tickets. In Northern Virginia only 170 air tickets were issued. The Cessna 182s are barely used by the police because all the traffic congestion in the area makes speeding impossible. The bottom line is that this expensive program is a dud.

May be next year instead of listening to the police “leadership” who earned their positions through politics; the members of the Assembly can listen to some common sense and pass the one plate per vehicle bill into law.

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