ANNAPOLIS – Despite the early demise of one bill in the Maryland legislature this year, seniors may still get a break on what they pay to register their cars.
Two other bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, would reduce the registration fee. Both are garnering support as they work through the legislative process – but not from the Department of Transportation.
“Passage of these bills would result in substantial reduction of revenues for our state transportation trust fund,” said Richard Scher, Motor Vehicle Administration spokesman. “Cutting back registration fees would have an effect of millions of dollars on our fund. We oppose both of these bills and similar bills.”
There are 296,208 licensed drivers over 70 who register their cars. Today’s fee is $70.
Still, lawmakers say they are committed to reducing the fee for seniors.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr., D-Baltimore County, would reduce the registration fee to $17.50 for seniors over 70 who drive less than 5,000 miles a year. The House bill, sponsored by Delegate Barry Glassman, R-Harford, would cut the fee to $17 for low-income seniors over 80.
Stone drafted the Senate bill after requests from constituents. Disabled veterans and their spouses already are exempt from the registration fee, he said. Other seniors should be, too.
“It’s a modest effort on behalf of the senior citizens of the state,” he said. The bill is awaiting a vote from a committee.
Glassman said seniors deserve a discount.
“We’re giving tax credits to high-tech companies, I was just trying to give our senior citizens a break,” he said. “It’s not that much, but when everybody else is getting a break, this is a small thing we can do for them.”
Glassman’s bill is similar to one introduced by Sen. J. Robert Hooper, R- Harford, that failed. To avoid the problems Hooper’s bill hit, Glassman said he increased the age limit from 70 to 80 to decrease the fiscal impact and included the fee for emergency services in the reduced amount.
Although his bill failed, Hooper said he supports the other bills because they will help seniors who are struggling. He agreed with Glassman that because most seniors have been paying to register their cars for as long as 50 years they deserve a discount.
“Many of my seniors are making the decision of whether to buy food or medicine,” he said. “They are on fixed incomes. We should try to help these people out.”